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Criticwire Survey: Oscar Moments

We pick the outstanding moments from the 2014 Academy Awards
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Lupita

Every week, the Criticwire Survey asks film and TV critics two questions and publishes the results on Monday morning. (The answer to the second, "What is the best film in theaters right now?" can be found at the end of this post.) Send suggestions for future questions to sam at indiewire dot com.

Q: What was the most memorable moment from the 2014 Academy Awards?

Josh Spiegel, Sound on Sight

I say this primarily because I wound up only following along with the ceremony via Twitter, so I've yet to see such moments as Lupita Nyong'o's acceptance speech or Bill Murray's quick remembrance of Harold Ramis, both of which have been praised almost universally online. Instead, and let's just put this under the "otherwise noteworthy" category, I'm going to highlight the moment in which John Travolta introduced a live performance of the Best Original Song Oscar winner "Let It Go," by Idina Menzel. Or, in his words, "Adele Dazeem." I gather, from a few tweets throughout the evening, that there were a number of technical flubs with the teleprompter, so maybe that's what happened. Or maybe John Travolta just didn't rehearse. Or…I don't know, maybe something got in his eye. All I know is, I've watched the Vine of him saying "…Adele Dazeem" far too many times since last night, and it's still making me laugh. So, in the words of the inevitable parody account inspired by the flub, thank you, Jorn Tromolto.

Joanna Langfield, The Movie Minute

Can't someone take a second and coach presenters (and red carpet hosts, cough cough) so they can pronounce the stars names correctly? Please?

James Poniewozik, Time

The most memorable moment created by second-time Oscar host Ellen DeGeneres was not a joke, a sketch, or an introduction: it was her gathering a dozen-odd celebrities on the floor for an impromptu selfie. (OK, I don't know how impromptu it was. Maybe it was entirely promptu.) The shot couldn't have better captured the spirit of DeGeneres' hosting, the spirit of this awards ceremony, and the spirit of the age. Ellen, the consummate gatekeeper between celeb-world and our world, was gathering folks together to have a playful, unscripted second of fun. The selfie gave the stars in it the chance to present their own paparazzi shot, unmediated, while seeming Just Like Us but in better clothes. It involved the audience in the goal of making it the most retweeted photo of all time -- it was, easily -- elevating the social-media share as an accomplishment in itself. And it was all centered on a Galaxy smartphone from Samsung, a major sponsor of the Academy Awards, which are after all in the business of selling stuff. Seth MacFarlane may have seen your boobs, Hollywood; Ellen let you be seen as you want to be seen.

Peter Keough, Boston Globe, criticsagogo

Ellen Degeneres ordered pizza at the same time I ordered pizza. I'll never forget that. And John Travolta's hair never fails to surprise me. But really, nothing stands out. Very tame and surprisingly predictable.

Edwin ArnaudinAshvegas, Asheville Citizen-Times

Pharrell's performance of "Happy," with its bonus Meryl Streep boogie, still has me smiling. If only the rest of the show had followed the lead of this energetic start.

Gary M Kramer, Gay City News, Philadelphia Gay News

Sandra Bullock on the red carpet was certainly a highlight. Ellen's calling Liza a man in drag was pretty fabulous. La Streep shimmying with Pharrell was cringe-inducing. Harrison Ford's stoned performance was scary. Zac Efron aspirating was inspiring in all the wrong ways. And I loved the Pepsi Mini ad. Jaime Foxx was great and Alfonso Cuaron's speech. And my friend Suzanne who hosted my Oscar party crying at the "Let It Go" speech.

Jordan Hoffman, New York Daily News, ScreenCrush

I liked when the Hollywood stars were literally treating $20 and $100 bills like gag props and throwing 'em around in Pharrell's hat. When the revolution comes...

John DeCarli, Film Capsule

Matthew McConaughey's description of his Dad shufflin' and drinking beer in heaven.

Mike McGranaghan, The Aisle Seat, Film Racket

This is really a three-way tie for me. I'm glad that they didn't play off the major winners. Listening to the stars speak is a big part of the appeal of watching the Oscars, so it was nice to give them more than 45 seconds. I was also quite pleased to see Roger Ebert included in the memorial segment. He absolutely deserved to be there. On a less pleasant note, it was shocking to discover that Goldie Hawn is apparently getting surgery to look like Joan Rivers.

John Keefer, 51 Deep

Kim Novak...oh Kim, what are you doing? No, please don't talk anymore. Oh no she's talking more. Oh God have some dignity woman, you were in "Vertigo"! Remember when you said you felt like you had been raped when they used that song from "Vertigo" in "The Artist"? Little much don't you think? Bit of hyperbole there, huh? 30 Seconds to Mars sucks. I want to go on record with that. Darlene Love gets a long overdue Oscar for her role as Trish Murtaugh in the "Lethal Weapon" series. McConaughey McConaughey'ed harder than I've ever seen him McConaughey, harder even than when he was shown Matt Damon's impression of him on the Today show. Did you see that? It was weird. That "Frozen" song sucks but not as much as 30 Seconds to Mars. And what was with all the standing ovations? Not everything needs a standing ovation. They lose their meaning if you just hand them out to things like that "Frozen" song. Rule of thumb, when Bill Murray stands, you stand. Other than that sit your butt in that chair. I was, however, deeply moved by the Academy's tribute to great heroes like the men of MiB and Spider-Man. They're who we do this for, right? The first time where they had a montage of films based on real people, while still self-serving and ridiculous, at least had some wiggle room for me. The second time where it was Batman and Indiana Jones? Are they out of their minds? I wonder what the Oscars would be like if, before the telecast, they got a normal person and ran all the ideas for the show by them before airing. Maybe then we could get the running time down. Way, way down. Ellen was, as always, wonderful in every way.

Kiva Reardon, cléo

The best moment of last night didn't happen during the broadcast, but on Twitter: David Zirin's takedown of all the snarking that was going on regarding Kim Novak's appearance. Don't hate the person, hate the game. 

Ethan Alter, Television Without Pity

The sappy, manipulative "Helium" picking up the Live Action Short Film trophy over the tremendously assured and affecting "Just Before Losing Everything" -- which was better than some of the feature-length Best Picture nominees -- was probably the biggest blow of the night. (It hurt to watch Jared Leto win as well, but at least I was well-prepared for that one.) On the opposite end of the spectrum, I was most heartened by the quick shot of David O. Russell congratulating John Ridley on his Best Adapted Screenplay win for "12 Years a Slave." The duo famously feuded over "Three Kings," which Ridley originally wrote and then Russell came along and heavily revised. I think the resulting movie is terrific -- it's both Russell's best movie and one of the great late-'90s studio pictures -- but it sounds like Ridley had legitimate gripes about the way he was treated and it was a classy move on Russell's part to literally reach across the aisle and offer up a congratulatory handshake. If those two can patch things up, maybe there's still a chance that Russell and George Clooney can put their on-set brawl in the past and team up again one day.

Carrie Rickey, Philadelphia Inquirer

Lupita N'yongo's humble and moving acceptance, Cate Blanchett chastising Hollywood producers for considering woman-centered movies as niche, filmmakers of color winning best director and best pic, Ellen DeGeneres' puckish hosting… I was moved.

Kenji Fujishima, Slant Magazine, In Review Online

Lupita Nyong'o's touching acceptance speech all the way. If nothing else, she did a far more intelligent and graceful job addressing the wider concerns of the world than Jared Leto did in his speech.

Jason Osder, "Let the Fire Burn," George Washington University

Lupita!

Tony Dayoub, Press Play, The House Next Door

William Bibbiani, CraveOnline, The B-Movies Podcast

The first black person to win Best Actor takes the stage with Angelina Jolie, the wife of the man who produced "12 Years a Slave." The producers set the stage perfectly for a historic moment, when the Academy would finally present the Best Director prize to a black person. Then, it goes to Alfonso Cuaron -- the first Latin American man to win the award, granted, but hardly the moment the producers were clearly engineering. Especially since Jolie turned down the lead role in "Gravity." Ha! Good but bad but awesome but lame, everything you could possibly want in an Oscar moment. 

Danny Bowes, RogerEbert.com

I would rant about Jared Leto and his blithely obtuse transphobia, but after about twenty years of being the most embarrassing Oscar winner in the history of the awards in a society that long since progressed past such hideous contempt for LGBT people as his work displayed, and with no subsequent work of even remotely equivalent merit to his name, it'll be possible to feel (slightly....*very* slightly) sorry for him. Instead I'd like to salute "12 Years a Slave"'s John Ridley, Lupita Nyong'o, and Steve McQueen, who made a great movie that will live far longer and in far greater esteem. May their reward (and the reward of all their collaborators, especially Chiwetel Ejiofor) for shining a light on such excruciating horrors be lifetimes of triumph.

Richard Brody, New Yorker

The Cadillac commercial about garages: it was the company's second Wright Brothers reference of the night, and, though I admire and honor the inventive and entrepreneurial spirit (which, after all, is the root of the cinema), the commercial gave rise to the best line of the night -- in my living room, when my older daughter, hearing the litany of solemnly intoned homegrown success stories ("the Wright Brothers started in a garage"), added, "Aerotyne started in a garage." Beside being a spontaneously cautionary word about the track record of garage businesses, it was a welcome "Wolf of Wall Street" nod from a young woman who has said of it, "I think this will be my new 'Mean Girls.'"

Scott RenshawSalt Lake City Weekly

The "In Memoriam" montage is always one of the Oscar broadcast's trickiest bits; the only thing people tend to remember is which people were inexcusably omitted. But to have the entire montage completed, and *then* drag Bette Midlet out to do "Wind Beneath My Wings"? Yes yes, the lyrics fit the whole "hero" motif, but come on: She can sing while a montage plays, and then we're not another 4 minutes longer into an interminable broadcast.

Pat Padua,DCist, Spectrum Culture

Most Outstanding Performance by a Body Part Pretending to Be A Bird goes to Bette Midler's right hand.

Joey Magidson, The Awards Circuit, First Showing

I'll get a little bit inside baseball here and say that what surprised me was how much this year's results bucked statistical trends. You rarely get a Best Picture winner that loses in the Best Director and Best Film Editing categories for example. It completely screwed up my predictions, but hey... it was interesting.

Marc V. Ciafardini, Go See Talk

With most of the best/supporting nominees being too close to call, "Dallas Buyers Club," to me at least, seemed to be a big surprise taking both the male acting categories. However the bigger shocker was that "American Hustle," a film that was far less than the sum of its spectacular parts, took home zero awards after being nominated in 10 categories. Not one at all... that hurts. Sure it was a very competitive year but it looks like the bubble finally burst on Russell's "Hustle." Now I love his work but the man had to hit a wall eventually right? Still a pity. Also, two of our personal favorites, "Philomena" and "The Wolf of Wall Street," were completely shut out which is also a notable shame.

Anne-Katrin Titze, Eye for Film

"American Hustle" out-hustled in the 10 categories it was nominated for and not even being nominated in the Best Makeup and Hairstyling category where it clearly would have won makes me want to ride through the desert on a horse with no name this morning.

Adam Batty, Hope Lies at 24 Frames Per Second 

For the fifth consecutive year Twitter has proven to be the most interesting element of the Academy Awards. A very modern kind of Oscar party, especially for those of us whose social circles span several timezones, the shared communal experience that is Twitter on Oscar night once again outshined the events played out by the great and powerful. It's at times of great woe and great celebration that Twitter really comes in to its own. Be it revolution in the Middle East, streets of feces swamping South London or the Super Bowl, the ability to interact with others and share real-time information on a subject reinforces the experience at hand, whatever the shape or mood, be it world-shifting political event or big-scale sports show. 

Back in the days before social media went straight, before our mothers had Facebook accounts and the idea of communicating with a person you'd never met in the real world was deemed geeky at best and creepy at worst, a forum I used to frequent would host a chat room for one night only to mark the Oscars. Coupled with the scramble for a live feed (not always legit), it became an unlikely annual tradition. Eventually Twitter superseded forums and chatrooms, and the tradition migrated with it. The increasing availability of social media was an important part of my burgeoning cinephilia and especially serves to underline the importance of the jnternet in my development as a voice on film (coming from a small town, the idea of taking in such an event with other people never really crossed my mind growing up). Social media ubiquity can be a hindrance, especially when it comes to non-factual entertainment, but were it not for the ability to throw out and receive witty asides, bitchy comments and the occasional piece of genuine insight, my Oscar experience would be far less enjoyable. 

LEGO

Q: What is the best movie in theaters?

A: "The LEGO Movie"

Other movies receiving multiple mentions: "Her," "The Wind Rises"

This article is related to: Criticwire Survey


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