The big winners at last night’s 16-hour Oscar ceremony: Dreams. Inspiration. Heroes. So live the impossible, because that’s what Jared Leto’s mom would want. Just keep livin’, because no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid and your magic is real. Hey, movie stars, we get it — nobody’s against dreams, right? We are all, as Fred Durst would put it, in agreeance here? But like Matthew McConaughey says, “We all need somebody to look up to, somebody to look down on, somebody to chase, somebody to love, somebody to cream on and where am I again?”
This was the most chaotic Oscar bash of recent years, with the laid-back Ellen DeGeneres leading the way. It was a slog, wasting way too much time on stupid can-you-not montages about heroes, inspirations and wizards. But if you happen to enjoy pointless award shows, a mellow, sloppy, just-keep-livin’ Oscars is more fun than a stiff, uptight, punch-the-clock Oscars. Ellen kept the mood light with her pizza, her selfies, her jokes about Jonah Hill’s nudity. (“You showed me something in that film that I have not seen for a very long time.”) She made Tina and Amy seem like Statler and Waldorf. She also made the excellent decision to go New Romantic, dressing up as Adam Ant in the “Stand and Deliver” video.
The stars were tragically well-behaved. Nobody dressed slutty or fell over drunk. People brought their moms and talked about their dreams. Jacqueline Bisset didn’t show. Even Angelina didn’t unleash the thigh. (But she doesn’t have to—by now, Angie has become the thigh.) When Cate Blanchett won Best Actress and told Julia Roberts to “hashtag #suckit,” it was a welcome taste of Hollywood bitchcraft that was over way too soon. Ego, people. An Oscar Night without ego is like Harrison Ford without a goatee. Every time Channing Tatum keeps his clothes on, the angels cry.
Jared Leto gave a sensitive and touching speech about his mom. For those of us who enjoy making fun of him, this speech was a bitter disappointment, especially since his hair was made of magic rainbow sparkles and his blue eyes danced with the mermaids. Then Leto kept talking and talking, and that’s when we started to notice his needy camera-hog brother with the neck tattoo (and bandmate in the really-didn’t-need-to-be-mentioned 30 Seconds to Mars). But this was still Leto’s least douchey moment since his Catalano days. Don’t make a habit of this, Leetz—we all love hating you way too much.
McConaughey talked a bunch about God, which isn’t really the kind of subject where you’d consult McConaughey, and lemon meringue pie, which is. He revealed that his whole life, his hero has been himself in ten years. Most of us would agree that our hero is McConaughey 15 years ago, around the time of his epic 1999 nude-bongos bust, but he went Wooderson at the end of his speech, throwing in a truly inspiring “All right, all right, all right” with a chaser of “just keep livin’!” And all this just a week after he flashed his ass on True Detective. Well played!
Karen O stole the show with “The Moon Song” — a great moment for arty punk rock girls everywhere. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ rock goddess sang her doo-wop Bowie ballad, dressed in Old Hollywood glam, with Ezra Koenig very Kermit on guitar. It might have been the coolest Best Song performance since Isaac Hayes did “Shaft.” She got introduced by Zac Efron, because. . . well, no idea, but always nice to see Zac show up anywhere. Pharrell turned “Happy” into a Kids Incorporated dance-off with Meryl Streep. But the Best Song award went to “Let It Go,” performed by Idina Menzel. Whose name isn’t that hard to pronounce, John Travolta.
Darlene Love celebrated 20 Feet From Stardom by singing a McConaughey-worthy hymn to the Man Upstairs, which brought Bill Murray to his feet. U2 gave her a shout-out later by slipping her name into “Ordinary Love.” It was the least Bono could do, since Darlene Love did the original “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).” (They both kicked ass on the anti-apartheid single “Sun City” back in 1985, when Mandela was still in jail and the American president was still calling him a terrorist.)
Harrison Ford managed to come across as the baked-est-looking dude in the room. (And he was in the same room as McConaughey.) Bill Murray gave an ad-lib tribute to his Stripes army buddy Harold Ramis. Lupita Nyong’o knows how to give a speech, as did the French guys who won Best Live Short. Kim Novak and Liza Minnelli repped the old school — when Lupita won, Liza leaped up to tackle her with the night’s scariest hug. I don’t know about you, but I love the blue streak in Liza’s hair — I’ve been a fan of Liza’s new wave mode ever since she made that album with the Pet Shop Boys.
Speaking of Liza, they brought in Pink to sing “Over the Rainbow” as a tribute to The Wizard of Oz — why exactly? I would much rather hear McConaughey sing “If I Only Had a Brain.” And why did they ruin the In Memoriam montage by censoring the Applause-o-Meter and then bringing in Bette Midler to sing “Wind Beneath My Wings” with a little flapping-gull arm action? Sure, competitive applause for dead movie stars is tacky and tasteless, but that’s why it’s a great Hollywood tradition that should be preserved.
The orchestra deserves props for knocking it off with that rude habit of interrupting the speeches — maybe by now, the Oscars have figured out that the speeches are the whole reason we watch. The orchestra also did a great job with WTF song selections all night — anybody know why they introduced Kate Hudson and Jason Sudeikis with “Feels Like The First Time”?
The E! red carpet show, a low-budget mess as always, got even trashier this year with the addition of Laguna Beach bunny Kristin Cavallari, whose awesomely inane blather kept making Kelly Osbourne bristle with rage. Apparently the only fashion experts in E!’s price range are refugees from MTV reality shows. Maybe next year they can bring in Wee-Man and Justin Bobby? Over on the ABC red carpet show we got Tyson Beckford, who rates about a zero for fashion expertise but a ten for looking hot while calling Julia Roberts “Jessica.”
One of the night’s emotional highlights: Spike Jonze won a well-deserved Best Screenplay award for Her. Somewhere, the late great Nathaniel Hornblower was so proud of Spike.