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Voters go with the ‘important’ contender on a night full of lovely moments

This is 86th Academy Awards.

This is the 86th Academy Awards.

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Updated: March 3, 2014 10:39AM



Technically speaking, it was “Gravity’s” night at the Oscars.

Emotionally speaking, there was something for everyone.

It was an evening for some lovely touches, from the beautiful, eloquent acceptance speeches by Jared Leto and Lupita Nyong’o to the inclusion of our friend Roger Ebert “In Memoriam” with all those wonderful filmmakers and actors, to Bill Murray’s mention of Harold Ramis to the regal appearance of the great Sidney Poitier with the beautiful Angelina Jolie on his arm.

Ellen DeGeneres started off at a jogging pace, delivering a monologue devoid of surprises with only a few jokes outside her comfort zone — but in a nearly unprecedented development, we saw an Oscar host’s performance actually improve as the show dragged on.

Her selfie with some of the most famous faces in the world (and Nyong’o’s brother) became the most retweeted photo in the long, long — OK, not that long — history of Twitter.

Although there was some late momentum for “Gravity” to pull off the upset to win best picture, in the end, enough Academy voters went with the more “important” film — the kind of movie that historically wins Oscar. Not that “12 Years a Slave” didn’t deserve the victory. It was one of the most unforgettable movies about slavery ever made.

With her expected win for “Blue Jasmine,” Cate Blanchett becomes the latest in an impressive line of actresses to thank Woody Allen for writing a role that led to an Oscar. It was a foregone conclusion Blanchett would win, but it got me thinking: yes, Meryl Streep is the most-nominated actor of all time, and she does have the three Oscars, but doesn’t she have the most “They didn’t call my name” moments of any actor in history as well?

Over all, the telecast was too long. We say that every year because it’s true every year. Some day, some day, the Academy will figure out the (relatively simple) formula for making the TV show more interesting, more exciting and less boring.

Matthew McConaughey’s win for “Dallas Buyers Club” was another foregone conclusion, but it might have come as a surprise to some when McConaughey gave such a spiritual, faith-based acceptance speech in which he thanked God, paid tribute to his late father, expressed his love for his wife and children — and then, granted, he entered the “all right all right all right” zone by saying his hero will always be the him of 10 years from now. Fire up the DeLorean, Doc Brown!

Leto and Nyong’o were expected to win, they deserved to win and they gave two of the most well-timed and well-received Oscar acceptance speeches in recent Academy Awards history.

Leto’s been a familiar face since his teen idol days on “My So-Called Life.” He’s done some terrific film work, most notably in “Requiem For a Dream,” “Panic Room” and “Chapter 27,” and he’s been a subject of tabloid scrutinization for his sometimes bizarre off-camera behavior. In “Dallas Buyers Club,” he was back to being an actor — losing himself in a part and delivering the most memorable work of his career.

Nyong’o came to “12 Years a Slave” as an unknown and emerged a star on the rise. It was an intense, moving performance in a film that was almost impossible to watch at times.

Other observations:

† Jim Carrey is a huge talent, but his impersonation of Bruce Dern was one of those impersonations where if he didn’t tell you whom he was impersonating, you wouldn’t be sure who he was impersonating.

† Pharrell Williams’ musical number was suitably zany. “The Moon Song” from “Her” was, um, kinda sweet, right? At least now a bunch of people have heard “The Moon Song” from “Her.”

† “Baby, you look like $146 million domestic.” Bill Murray, giving Amy Adams the once-over.

† Just before announcing the winner for best cinematography, Murray paused and said, “Oh, we forgot one. Harold Ramis for ‘Caddyshack,’ ‘Ghostbusters’ and ‘Groundhog Day.’ ”

Well played.



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