Academy Awards Wrap Up

The 86th Academy Awards is in the books! I've included some notes about the ceremony at the bottom of this post (after the full list of winners), but first, as always, the fashion.

Let's begin with some ladies who looked great. From left, we have nominee Meryl Streep; her Into the Woods costar, Anna Kendrick in J. Mendel; and nominee Sandra Bullock in Alexander McQueen. What impressed me about Streep's look is that it shows some effort and an attempt at glamour. She's known for eschewing aesthetics and can sometimes look dowdy on the red carpet, but this year, she looks simply elegant. Kendrick bucks the trends (which we'll get to in a moment) and opts for a funky (for the red carpet) black frock, with an asymmetrical hemline, structural detail in the back and a cut out at mid-waist with red accents. It's a terrific young, sexy but still classy look for the young, sexy and classy actress. And Bullock looks stunning in the understated navy McQueen gown. The structure is fantastic—look at the way the material gathers and expands, giving a flattering flow to the dress.

Next, how about some dapper dudes? The Wolf of Wall Street men, all nominated, look just right on the red carpet. Leonardo DiCaprio looks perfect in his deep navy tux. During the pre-show, you could see that he added a little pizazz to the look in the form of jeweled buttons; plus, he's sporting a pocket square. Nice touch. His director, Martin Scorsese, goes for a classic tuxedo (he should have buttoned his jacket on the red carpet, though). And Jonah Hill also goes classic for his second time as an Oscar nominee. (Did you see him on the pre-show? He brought his mom, who seemed so excited to be there. It was pretty cute.)

Trending this year were white/nude/silver gowns, all with sparkle and ornamentation. Some trendy ladies got it right; others did not. Above, from left, are Naomi Watts, in Calvin Klein Collection, who opts for white and more texture than sparkle; Kate Hudson, looking as ravishing as ever; and Jennifer Garner, who channels her inner flapper in her sparkly, silver Oscar de la Renta dress. Below are three ladies who went for the nude, sparkle and ornamentation trifecta. Oscar winner Cate Blanchett looks light (and possibly like she's being attacked by butterflies) in her Armani gown. 12 Years a Slave's Sarah Paulson looks a little lifeless in her Elie Saab dress. For all the sparkle on the gown, nothing really popped. And Blanchett's Blue Jasmine co-star and fellow nominee Sally Hawkins appears to have been swallowed by her Valentino (gaudy bridal?) gown.

Decidedly not on trend were the quartet of ladies above. Bette Midler went for a red floral Reem Acra dress. Let me tell you what I liked about this. The Divine Ms. M. is a women of a certain age, and such women are often told to cover up and hide their arms. Midler went her own way, showing off her decolletage and opting for a simple cap sleeve. Top right is presenter Gabourey Sidibe in a fuchsia Theia gown. The jeweled sash above the waist is a nice touch, giving the dress a little shape. Bottom right is Liza with a Z—and with blue hair! Minnelli accents her blue silk pajamas look with a streak of blue hair, prompting musical theatre nerds to dub her look "wonderful, super, fantastic, coolness, remarkable." (Don't know what I'm talking about? Listen to the Joe Iconis song, "Blue Hair.") And bottom left is nominee June Squibb, who looks pretty in her green Tadashi Shoji dress and jacket.

Not so colorful were two ladies in black. Nominee Julia Roberts wears a Givenchy sleeveless, black lace dress with a peplum detail. It's nice, but it looks too similar to the Dolce and Gabbana dress Leslie Mann wore to the Golden Globes. Meanwhile, nominee Karen O looks sleek and sophisticated in Camilla Staerk and Brandy St. John. I like that with the plunging neckline (punctuated by a bit of bling), she kept everything else simple. Good look.

More men, you say? How about these supporting actor nominees? Clockwise from top left, we have Jared Leto in Saint Laurent. The white jacket makes him stand out, as does the burgundy bow tie. (Also his flowing locks and ridiculously mesmerizing blue eyes. And his general sexiness.) Barkhad Abdi looks good in his Calvin Klein suit. The best looking man anywhere, Michael Fassbender, accessorizes his Tom Ford tuxedo with his mother, Adele. And Bradley Cooper, also in Tom Ford, sticks with what works, and looks good doing it.

There were several fashionable couples on the red carpet. First are nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor, looking flawless in Rake, and his lady, Sari Mercer. Next we have Brad Pitt, in Tom Ford, and Angelina Jolie, who, despite wearing long sleeves and a high neck, manages to look sexy and not matronly in her Elie Saab dress. Then it's on to Matthew McConaughey, in Dolce and Gabbana, and his wife, Camilla Alves. Like his Dallas Buyers Club co-star, McConaughey chooses a white jacket, except this looks yellowed and he looks like maybe he should be helping Mr. Carson serve the main course. Our last couple is Dax Shepard, in a gray John Varvatos tux, and Kristen Bell, in Roberto Cavalli. Bell is on trend with her blush dress (which seems a little tame for Cavalli, though I like the look).

How about some women who were almost the best dressed? Top left is Jennifer Lawrence, who looks stunning in this red Dior column dress. This isn't the first time the young starlet stunned in a red dress. She was va-va-voom sexy in a form-fitting red number the first time she was nominated, in 2011 for Winter's Bone. And it's also not the first time she wore a necklace draped down her back. She did the same thing last year. Wearing a red dress again doesn't bother me, especially because this is such a different look. But repeating her necklace draping a year later keeps her from being a best dressed pick. And Broadway favorite Idina Menzel, top right, looks like the diva that she is in her Vera Wang hunter green gown, complete with a dazzling bracelet-necklace set. However, the bottom of the dress looks like it got wrinkled in the car or simply wasn't properly steamed in the first place. It's a small quibble, but, nevertheless, it keeps her from being a best dressed pick. (Her voice, on the other hand: flawless.) At right, Lupita Nyong'o looks ethereal, like a Grecian goddess in her flowing Prada gown. What's my problem with this look? Nyong'o has been nailing the red carpet this whole season by choosing looks that, while not out-of-this-world risky, were definitely not safe or for the fashion averse. This look (while fun to twirl in) strikes me as safe and rather humdrum for such an effervescent and talented rising star. She looks gorgeous, but it left a little something to be desired.

Here are three more men, presenters all, who rocked the red carpet. Michael B. Jordan (who should have been nominated for Fruitvale Station), looks almost perfect in Tom Ford. The suit is slim and fresh looking and he even has accents on his collar. But there are also accents of some sort on his shoes. Maybe the silver space rings just don't photograph well; other than that, he's aces. Joseph Gordon-Levitt looks perfectly classic in Calvin Klein Collection, accenting his lapel, as he typically does, with his red Hit Record button. And House of Cards star Kevin Spacey stands out from the pack in his blue Burberry tuxedo. Claire Underwood would be proud.

And now we come to the worst dressed. My pick is Wednesday Addams. I mean The Wolf of Wall Street's Margot Robbie, in Saint Laurent. The boring black dress does nothing to show off her figure. And throughout the season, she's made fashion choices that seemed to say she liked fashion. Her blonde hair is now jet black, which, in and of itself is not a crime, but with the matching jet black eyebrows, it looks too severe. And she pairs the severe tresses with dark, matte lips. That would be fine if she were 14 and it was 1995 and she was in a goth phase. But in 2014, she just looks washed out.

For best dressed, I have two picks. Above is the luminescent Amy Adams, who looks absolutely stunning in her navy Gucci dress. The turned-down lapel up top and the winged flaps at the hips add structural and visual details to this simple classic look, which fits her perfectly. Adams keeps her hair off her face and the jewelry understated, letting the beautiful dress on the beautiful actress speak for itself. At right is Charlize Theron, stealing the show and looking drop-dead gorgeous in Dior. The way the top seems to stay put by way of some sort of magic; the way the neckline plunges just enough to be enticing but not too much so as to border on trashy; the way the dress hugs her hips and then the overlay flows out... just off the charts smoking hot. Bravo.

And now, without any further ado, here are the winners, notated in boldface type and with an asterisk:

Best Picture
Yes. This was absolutely the right choice. Bravo, and congratulations to everyone involved in making this important film.

Actor in a Leading Role
I still think Ejiofor should have won, but there was no stopping Matthew and his McConaussiance.

Actress in a Leading Role
  • Amy Adams, American Hustle
  • Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine*
  • Sandra Bullock, Gravity
  • Judi Dench, Philomena
  • Meryl Streep, August: Osage County
Duh! Blanchett was ridiculously good. She gave the kind of performance that awards were made for. Also, great speech, recognizing that female-led films can be great, successful films. And nice shout out to the Sydney Theatre Company. (Blanchett will be in NY this summer with the STC for the Lincoln Center Festival.)

Actor in a Supporting Role
No surprise here. It's well deserved (even if Leto wasn't my pick). He gave a nice, if long, speech, recognizing the support of his mother, and those like his character, Rayon, who struggle each day.

Actress in a Supporting Role
Hooray!!!!! Believe it or not, this wasn't a lock. In the end, the Academy got it right. Congratulations to Ms. Nyong'o, who said in her speech, "No matter where you're from, your dreams are valid." Beautiful sentiment from a beautiful actress, winning for a beautiful performance.

Well, I'm not surprised. Everything I've heard about this film has to do with how groundbreaking the actually film-making process was, which was all under the guidance of the director. I still would have voted for Steve McQueen, but this was expected.

Adapted Screenplay
  • Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, Before Midnight
  • Billy Ray, Captain Phillips
  • Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope, Philomena
  • John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave*
  • Terence Winter, The Wolf of Wall Street
Excellent choice.

Original Screenplay 
Absolutely the right choice, particularly because it's actually original. (American Hustle is loosely based on real-life events; Dallas Buyers Club is not so loosely based on real-life events; Blue Jasmine is arguably an homage to Streetcar.) Her is truly original and of its time. It's provocative, funny, poignant, romantic and an instant classic. Bravo, Spike!

Original Score
  • John Williams, The Book Thief
  • Steven Price, Gravity*
  • William Butler and Owen Pallett,  Her
  • Alexandre Desplat, Philomena
  • Thomas Newman, Saving Mr. Banks
Original Song
  • "Happy," music and lyrics by Pharrell Williams, from Dispicable Me 2
  • "Let It Go," music and lyrics by Kristen Anderson Lopez and Robert Lopez, from Frozen*
  • "The Moon Song," music by Karen O., lyrics by Karen O. and Spike Jonze, from Her
  • "Ordinary Love," music by u2, lyrics by Bono, from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
OK. First of all, what the ... did John Travolta call Idina Menzel? Second, Idina killed it. What a talent. (And she's back on Broadway in the original If/Then.) Third, woohoo, for Kristen and Bobby! This win makes Bobby Lopez the 12th EGOT winner! Hell to the yeah!
Animated Feature Film
  • The Croods
  • Despicable Me 2
  • Ernest and Celestine
  • Frozen*
  • The Wind Rises
  • Philippe Le Sourd, The Grandmaster
  • Emmanuel Lubezki, Gravity*
  • Bruno Delbonnel, Inside Llewyn Davis
  • Phedon Papamichael, Nebraska
  • Roger A. Deakins, Prisoners
Costume Design
I think the only competition here was American Hustle, but this is well deserved. The costumes in Gatsby were terrific.

Documentary (Feature)
  • The Act of Killings
  • Cutie and the Boxer
  • Dirty Wars
  • The Square
  • 20 Feet From Stardom*
I haven't seen any of the other docs, but I loved 20 Feet and those amazing singers.
Documentary (Short Subject)
  • CaveDigger
  • Facing Fear
  • Karama Has No Walls
  • The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life*
  • Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall
Film Editing
Foreign Language Film
  • The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium)
  • The Great Beauty (Italy)*
  • The Hunt (Denmark)
  • The Missing Picture (Cambodia)
  • Omar (Palestine)
Makeup and Hairstyling
  • Adruitha Lee and Robin Matthews, Dallas Buyers Club*
  • Stephen Prouty, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
  • Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua-Casny, The Lone Ranger
Let's just acknowledge how ridiculous it was that American Hustle wasn't even nominated. In any case, congratulations to the winners.
Production Design
  • Judy Becker (production design) and Heather Loeffier (set decoration), American Hustle
  • Andy Nicholson (production design) and Rosie Goodwin and Joanne Woollard (set decoration), Gravity
  • Catherine Martin (production design) and Beverley Dunn (set decoration), The Great Gatsby*
  • K.K. Barrett (production design) and Gene Serdena (set decoration), Her
  • Adam Stockhausenb (production design) and Alice Baker (set decoration), 12 Years a Slave 
Short Film (Animated)
  • Feral
  • Get a Horse!
  • Mr. Hublot*
  • Possessions
  • Room on the Broom
Short Film (Live Action)
  • Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn't Me)
  • Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything)
  • Helium*
  • Pitaako Mun Kaikki Hoitaa (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)
  • The Voorman Problem
Sound Editing
  • Steve Boeddeker and Richard Hymns, All is Lost
  • Oliver Tarney, Captain Phillips
  • Glenn Freemantle, Gravity*
  • Brent Burge, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  • Wylie Stateman, Lone Survivor
Sound Mixing
  • Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith and Chris Munro, Captain Phillips
  • Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead and Chris Munro, Gravity*
  • Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, Michael Semanick and Tony Johnson, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  • Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland, Inside Llewyn Davis
  • Andy Koyama, Beau Borders and David Brownlow, Lone Survivor
Visual Effects
  • Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk and Neil Corbould, Gravity*
  • Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and Eric Reynolds, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  • Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash and Dan Sudick, Iron Man 3
  • Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams and John Frazier, The Lone Ranger
  • Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossman and Burt Dalton, Star Trek Into Darkness

And there they are: the winners for the 86th Academy Awards. If you'll indulge me, a few thoughts about the broadcast:
  • These things always run long. This year's ran over by about thirty minutes. If the ceremony had started at 8 instead of 8:30, even if everything still took as long, the broadcast would have ended at 11:30. There was absolutely no reason ABC's red carpet coverage needed to be ninety minutes. (Did you really need to hear Tyson Beckford's fashion analysis, which consisted of, "There's a pretty lady in a pink dress"?)
  • Cut the montages and themed stuff. Absolutely no one tunes in because of the theme. Cutting all the hero tributes would have shaved off about seven minutes. Not a lot, but when the show's running over, seven minutes is an eon.
  • Cut the adverts/bits. Ellen DeGeneres is funny, and her opening monologue was great. But all the bits in between - the pizza, the selfies, the pizza again - it all took up precious time. Cut those and you'd have another seven minutes back. Now we're down to ending at 11:15.
  • Why does the In Memoriam piece always have to be a thing? Can't we just say, these people were part of our community and they passed. Let us honor them. No production number, no song after the clips roll. I like Bette Midler just as much as the next guy, but couldn't she at least have sung while the montage was running, like in past years? 
  • The Wizard of Oz tribute was really out of left field. I understand that it was included under the auspices of it being the film's anniversary, but there was no connection made when it was presented. And Pink? What the...?
OK. End rant.

Head over to my Academy Awards Pinterest board for photos. I'll continue adding to it throughout the day.