There was a time when the Best Picture and Best Director awards went hand in glove, but for the second year in a row, it was a split. Alfonso Cuaron won Best Director for his existential space drama Gravity, and Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave won Best Picture for his unflinching and spartan look at slavery in the American south.
I didn't see all this uear's nominees, but I was glad not to be an Academy member; having to choose between the two films mentioned above or the brilliant performances in American Hustle and Dallas Buyer's Club would have been a hard choice, but is think in the end, Gravity would have won me over. The paradox that a movie so grand in scale that a number of new technologies had to be created to accurately capture the isolation and desperation of life in space can also contain such an internalized and personal story that it could almost be done on stage is still something I find remarkable. I am certainly not disappointed with 12 Years winning, and not just because I don't want Ellen Degeneres thinking I'm a racist!
Ellen did a great job as host, keeping things moving except when she was bringing in some hapless delivery boy to serve pizza to some of the biggest movie stars in the world ("I lied, we're not going backstage..."), or breaking Twitter with one of the most star-studded selfies ever. It's one of the toughest gigs in the world, and she did it with considerable aplomb.
There seemed to be much fewer laundry list acceptance speeches this year (Cate Blanchett, please work on this!), but I was especially touched by the sincerity of Matthew McConaughey's speech. The humble and honest manner in which he acknowledged the hand of God for the many blessings in his life without ever becoming jingoistic or proselytizing was impressive, as was the bit where he spoke about his hero being himself (ten years from now). The rhyming couplets of the two co-directors of Disney's Frozen was also a delight.
James won the Oscar prediction contest (for what I believe to be the third year running!) with an astonishing 19 correct, with only Bruce, the 2011 victor, even coming close with 18. Next year I intend to move towards a raffle system or something similar to introduce some randomness and even out the playing field a little. The temptation to use sites like Gold Derby takes a bit of the fun out of it. Maybe we will also have a 'heart vs head' ballot, to compare the movies you expect to win with the ones you want to win. Well, I've got a year to figure out an alternative...
In other news, Pete and I topped the March of the Dead this year with 6 shots apiece.
Best of all though, was the food and fellowship throughout the night! Pulled BBQ beef, chicken cheese dip, Hoisin meat balls, stuffed portobello mushrooms, cheesy potatoes, and caramel apple Rice Krispie treats on a stick made sure no one left hungry.