Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

The Best & Worst Moments Of The 2014 Oscars

by Oliver Lyttelton
March 3, 2014 1:03 PM
  • |

The Worst Moments

The whole thing was almost too laid-back and low-energy
Like we said, we enjoyed the casual vibe of the show, but only up to a point. Despite (and sometimes because of: the pizza bit was fun, but went on for nearly fifteen minutes on and off) Ellen's efforts, the show was very saggy and even subdued — some presenters, naming no names HARRISON FORD, had very odd energy, to the extent that we worried that there might be a gas leak in the building. And, like an awards show version of "This Is 40," skits and bits seemed to go on way past the natural end point, and the editing and cues of the show itself seemed a bit slack (there was quite a lot of time spent just watching presenters, Ellen included, making their way up to the podium). It felt like this could have been a lot tighter when all was said and done.

Endless montages
Someone at the Academy is very keen on them, but we are still completely baffled by the insistence of including montages that have very little to do with anything. Themed this year, particularly tenuously, around "Heroes," we had three separate clip packages, none of which were much better put together than the sort of thing you can watch (or, ideally, ignore) online, and none of which added anything to the evening other than the chance to check Twitter without missing anything good. We know the Academy and ABC are constantly chasing the younger demographic, but the chance to see two seconds of "Iron Man 3" are not going to make any more kids tune in.

Matthew McConaughey's speech
Honestly, nothing last night came close to being as disappointing as Matthew McConaughey's speech. Not that his win wasn't deserved — it's a great performance. And McConaughey seemed to do everything right on the night, being gentlemanly while presenting with Kim Novak, and passionately kissing his wife when he won, then graciously thanking his fellow nominees. But then he kept going, and the speech got worse and worse as it went on. If God's important in your life, that's great, but McConaughey thanking the almighty felt more like a preachy door-to-door bible salesman than a sincere gesture, while his conversations with his past/future selves was both a bit self-involved and kind of incoherent. Maybe we just wanted more of a Rust Cohle-vibe to the whole thing, but it was a bit of a bum note on which to end the first act of the McConaissance.

Still basically ignoring the Honorary Awards
All the digressions and gags and montages and musical numbers are all well and good, but it sometimes feels like it's coming at the expense of the really good stuff. Despite the Honorary Awards having provided some of the most powerful and moving moments in Oscar history, they've been downgraded to also-ran status in recent years, and this time around, we only got brief clips from the Governor's Awards, without the recipients even being in the house. Is there anyone alive who'd rather have seen Pink singing "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" rather than see Angela Lansbury or Steve Martin give a speech honoring their careers? We feel like we complain about it every year, but each time around, it feels like the Honorary Awards are treated more and more shoddily.

Jim Carrey
There's always a big comedy name popping up to present something, and this year, it was the somewhat faded A-lister Jim Carrey (whose last two movies, "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" and "Kick Ass 2," both tanked). Coming very early in the show, Carrey proceeded to pretty much let all the air out of the room immediately, with a misjudged and awkward "Don't patronize me" response to Ellen's introduction of him as the star of "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective," before launching into a Bruce Dern impression, which was admittedly pretty good, but just continued to feel a bit awkward. Closing on a rather tired LSD gag, it was a pretty disappointing appearance from someone who'd done a good job at the Golden Globes recently.

As U2 were introduced to perform their Best Original Song nominee "Ordinary Love," you could practically hear 800 million people going for a toilet/cigarette break. Even fans of the band who are stuck around must have acknowledged that the performance was far from their finest hour. The song is firmly B-side material, and despite a stripped-down acoustic arrangement, it still felt bombastic and self-important, which is an impressive achievement. Bono getting in on the audience-interaction game by serenading the front row didn't help all that much either.

Pink & Bette Midler
As the show drags on, it's easy to feel more and more negative about the less necessary digressions, and a couple arrived in musical performances from Pink and Bette Midler. The latter was at least accompanying the In Memoriam reel, but it felt strangely tasteless to be singing "Wind Beneath My Wings," and the pace of the thing wasn't helped by Midler singing after the reel finished, slowing the whole thing to a halt. Can we not just make In Memoriam about the people it's honoring, rather than about what ever tear-jerking song accompanies it? Pink's version of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" felt even less essential. Sure, it's the 75th anniversary of the movie, but it's the 75th anniversary of a lot of movies ("Gone With The Wind," "Stagecoach," "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington," among many others), and even so, we're not sure that the makers of the film would have felt particularly honored by Pink's technically impeccable, but very "American Idol"-y performance of a song everyone's heard a million times before.

Adele Tazim
Given that he's been stuck mostly in straight-to-VOD fare of late, it felt a bit odd for John Travolta to be introducing "Frozen," but we suppose appearing in "Grease" will always get you the chance to do something like that. Probably not any longer: Travolta hilariously/mortifyingly botched his introduction of singer Idina Menzel, calling her something "Adele Tazim." Whether it was an autocue malfunction (it did seem to be playing up a bit last night), or some kind of weird Scientology-induced disconnect, it was one of the more baffling Oscar-related moments we can remember.

Free Indie Movies and Documentaries    


  • snehal | March 15, 2014 7:48 AMReply

    Does someone know what song was played when jared leto won the supporting actor award?

  • Kerry | March 6, 2014 5:18 PMReply

    haha- your review of Matthew Maconaheyhey's speech is EXACTLY why people HATE Hollywood- seriously? He was Humble, adorable and True to himself. #hater

  • Brett | March 11, 2014 5:23 PM

    I agree, McConaughey gave a great speech

  • ryan | March 6, 2014 3:57 PMReply

    Anne Hathaway's beautifully and gracefully delivered speech to the Supporting Actors , was the best Oscar presentation to the nominees ( and she was one of the few who didn't flub her lines ) . Plus , she did it with unbelievable star power and a great stage presence ( On the opposite spectrum , Jennifer Lawrence was awkward on stage with no presence and no star power . ) Charmer Jared Leto's speech was glorious . Karen O. and Pharrell performances soared .

  • sylvain | March 6, 2014 8:29 AMReply

    Someone once said that MMC was arrogant and pretentious...
    Didn't understand why... until his despicable speech.

  • Moses | March 12, 2014 8:08 PM

    How was his speech despicable??

    It was honest and genuine. i thought it was Great

  • Mabs | March 5, 2014 3:07 PMReply

    You're critiquing others while lobbing this sentence at us, "She's did a decent enough job seven years ago..." Shameful really. That negated anything I read before or skimmed after.

  • David | March 5, 2014 11:14 AMReply

    Jim Carrey was funny and Matts speech was great

  • RobD381 | March 4, 2014 10:17 PMReply

    I only disagree with two of your 'worst' moments (I too thought Harrison Ford was odd - maybe having a stroke?). I liked Bette Midler's song, and its placement (it cut down on the inappropriate clapping of American actors at the Oscars In Memoriam presentation like it was a horse race to see who was missed the most) -- my problem was that her sparkling eyes were closed during most of the song - surgery? Not good. Secondly, I completely disagree with your assessment of Matthew McConaughey's acceptance speech (and your dismissal of Jared Leto's moving acceptance speech too). I certainly had no problem understanding what he was saying and what he meant. I have heard many seemingly insincere references to God and thanking Him (most of which are sports-related) and I am skeptical of any Oscar acceptance speeches where everyone but the movie goer (the money maker) is thanked, but Matthew's talking was different. He can be slick in the movies, and very snake-oil salesmany, but this was different, and it was coherent. He was thanking Above, Around Him, and Chasing. I am assuming the Chasing was what bothered you, but how wonderful would it be if we all wanted to be our own Hero, and chased that idea 10 years at a time, never attaining that goal but always chasing it. This is an idea that could change the world, to be a better You every 10 years or so. He seemed perfectly sincere thanking a God that was within him, and, as he said, in YOU, and thanking his small circle of loved ones and family that were around him. Alright, alright, alright Matthew. Great speech!

  • Aurora | March 4, 2014 3:07 PMReply

    This is the best one of these lists I have seen and I have seen a few. I agree with pretty much everything. So happy btw you included Kevin Spacey, he was definitely a highlight for me and they really need to let him host something! I've a feeling he could be the best host in a looong time if they gave him a chance.

  • Joseph Byrne | March 4, 2014 11:20 AMReply

    Though not a believer, I had no problems with McConaughey thanking God in his speech. It was what came after that was problematic. Claiming he was his own hero came off as narcissistic, and it was not really in accord with the humility we might expect from a devout Christian.

  • - | March 9, 2014 2:20 PM

    "Claiming he was his own hero"
    What exactly is wrong with what he said apart from the phrasing? He flat out said something like "I know I'm never gonna be my own hero", so if you actually look at what he said there's nothing objectionable in it. You either didn't watch the speech or you're just going off your kneejerk reaction to it.

  • RobD381 | March 4, 2014 10:22 PM

    He never claimed to be a devout Christian, and what he said went against what the worst of church-associated religion thinks: that God is within YOU. The hero part wasn't NOW, it was what he was chasing, 10 years at a time. How wonderful to be chasing, to be always trying to be a better you and strive to be your own Hero (never quite attaining it).

  • Sean | March 3, 2014 8:45 PMReply

    Yea I agree with most other the McConaghey bit you guys are saying as "worst" uh absolutely not. The guy can talk about his faith or whatever the hell wants for that matter. I dont believe he was rambling & his speech was brilliant & even a great lesson for those watching.

    Travolta your an idiot. We know your dyslexic sure. But why not practice your line before hand? Ya know like you do the shitty movies you play in...

    U2 wasnt nearly as bad as you may have thought!

    While Pink on the other hand thumbs down...

    Spike Jonze huge surprise. And you are a gem & a brilliant talent to film & culture. Thank You! :)

    I HAVE BEEN SAYING IT EVER SINCE THE SHOW ENDED! KEVIN SPACEY FOR 2015!!! Can we make or some1 please make a banner or a poster or somethin! Spacey 2015! He would be marvelous!

  • RobD381 | March 4, 2014 10:24 PM

    Bono for official Peace Ambassador of the World - anything to get U2 to disband. Reminded me of a bunch of boys playing in a garage....

  • murphious | March 3, 2014 7:51 PMReply

    Hey, Mr. Travolta. Next time you have a job to present or introduce a person, don't just show up that evening and expect to be able to do everything perfectly---get their name on a slip of paper and practice saying it first.
    Besides, with all those weird Scientology names of aliens and their planets you would think Idina Menzel would be an easy one!

  • Chris138 | March 3, 2014 6:48 PMReply

    I agree that McConaughey's speech was largely disappointing, but not because of him mentioning God or his faith in it. It was a slight step up from the truly rambling speech he gave at the Independent Spirit Awards, but it still was all over the place and came off a bit unendearing overall. I don't know why it's such a big deal that he mentioned his own faith. Denzel Washington mentioned God in his acceptance speech when he won for Training Day, and I don't recall anyone making a big deal out of that.

  • Jack Reacharound | March 3, 2014 7:07 PM

    Yeah what does the man thanking God have to do with anything. If God is his inspiration, then God is who helped him make it to that stage. I didn't find his speech rambling at all. He thanked everyone from the cast and crew he needed to thank and then gave us an insight into who he is as a person. It made me see him as more deserving of that award than anything.

  • Brian Miller | March 3, 2014 6:35 PMReply

    All of the music except for Karen O's bit was horrible. I wasn't a big fan of MM mentioning God either, but it really sounded more political than anything, as if to say to the mainstream: I'm not the nihilist you see on True Detective. I still love the man.

  • kerry | March 6, 2014 5:20 PM

    Why on earth do YOU care if he mentioned God? are you serious????

  • Jamie | March 4, 2014 3:47 PM

    I don't see how you got anything "political" out of MM's speech. There is nothing wrong with him mentioning God, he didn't tell everyone "Now,let's all pray" and he certainly didn't mention any political issues or make any stands for or against anything. I think you read way too much into a man being happy that his hard work was recognized and telling a story about how he intends to keep reaching for perfection.Also,if you think Idina Menzel's performance was horrible( especially after hearing her name butchered by Travolta) or Pharrell Williams' joyous and obviously crowd pleasing performance was horrible,then you must just be a person that can't stand other people's joy.

  • Keith | March 3, 2014 5:23 PMReply

    If you think McConaughey's mention of HIS faith and HIS belief in God was preachy then you obviously has some pretty strong hate towards that. Whether you're religious or not there is no way those brief opening comments were too much or excessive. Give me a break.

  • RobD381 | March 4, 2014 10:27 PM

    BossAirplane, I'm sure he capitalized HIS to show emphasis, as in HIS remarks rather than YOUR remarks. There's not an option for underlining or italicizing remarks in Comments.

  • BossAirplane | March 3, 2014 9:41 PM

    "His" is not capitalized. In this context, you were referring to Matthew McConaughey, not God.

  • sati | March 3, 2014 5:09 PMReply

    My God what is your people problem with Matthew? Are you a bunch of Leonardo fanbots? Each article I see here on Oscar season criticizes him.

  • Jake Mason | May 29, 2014 3:32 AM

    Because he is a pretentious D-bag that's why.

  • Dan | March 3, 2014 5:07 PMReply

    Only because you don't believe in God doesn't mean you give it a worse because someone does. Is just your opinion anyways, I liked his speech.

  • let it be | March 3, 2014 2:57 PMReply

    That Carrey LSD bit was fun. Keep fantasizing about Chris Hemsworth cheating on his pregnant wife with Charlize Theron.

  • Jorge Clooneigh | March 7, 2014 7:06 AM

    I am glad someone else pointed that out - a little crass to "hope" that married man cheats on his expecting wife with another woman just because she looked amazing. Way to make Charlize feel cheap too.

  • black stars | March 3, 2014 2:54 PMReply

    McConaughey should've quoted some Ligotti instead of that God nonsense.

  • Ugh | March 4, 2014 2:10 PM

    Because only what you and people like you think is right, right?

  • Lauren S | March 3, 2014 2:44 PMReply

    I couldn't disagree more about your feelings on Pink's performance of "Over the Rainbow". To me it was the highlight of the night. That movie is forever cemented in the hearts and minds of children/adults of any age and deserved every second of that tribute. And to say Pink sounded like she was on "American Idol" is insulting on so many levels. I can't think of ANY professional singer today (okay maybe Jennifer Hudson, only) who would've given a better live performance of that song.

  • RobD | March 4, 2014 10:30 PM

    Lauren S I completely agree. It was a beautiful rendition of the song, without any affectation usually seen in these situations or in "covers." Pink has a beautiful voice. I was impressed.

  • DG | March 3, 2014 2:06 PMReply

    I thought Mcconaugheys speech was fine

  • Kerry | March 6, 2014 5:24 PM

    it was great, the opinions on this are why the world is the way it is today- seriously

  • Murphy | March 3, 2014 2:32 PM

    Best of the night

  • az | March 3, 2014 1:52 PMReply

    Your Cabaret fact, drove me to wiki - I'd always thought it won best picture - Amazed to see what a rocking year 1973 was (Deliverance, Fat City, Sounder) And doubly amazed to see that Coppola didn't win best director for The Godfather. The Godfather only won three, wow.

Email Updates