Academy Awards shock and entertain viewers

By Maddie Stagnaro – Staff Writer – mstagnar@unca.edu

While films such as Gravity, 12 Years a Slave and American Hustle all raced for Oscars gold at the 86th Annual Academy Awards last Sunday, only one could take home the grand prize.

“I was happy that Jared Leto got best supporting actor,” said Erik Montoya, 25, of the Asheville Film Society. “His performance shocked us in Dallas Buyers Club and deserved a lot of recognition.”

Montoya said he watched all the movies that scored nominations except for Nebraska. He also said he didn’t expect much from Nebraska and he was right. Although acknowledged several times, Alexander Payne received little recognition for his work. Payne’s cast, Bruce Dern and June Squibb were paid more attention, yet the film received no awards.

“I thought it was really stupid that Gravity was winning award after award but didn’t get the big one. I would’ve liked to have seen some of the other movies like Bad Grandpa, Lone Ranger and Inside Llewyn Davis get more recognition for the less important categories.”

Gravity conquered the stage last night winning in seven different categories including best original score, best cinematography and best director, yet 12 Years a Slave walked away with the best motion picture award.

“I’m glad 12 Years a Slave got best picture.  I’m glad serious treatments of serious topics can be recognized and rewarded in their own right at least as much as other years’ celebrations of lighter and less taxing entertainment,” said Ann Weber, retired professor of psychology at UNCA.

Jenna Parker, 46, of the Asheville Film Society, said she was overjoyed to hear Lupita Nyong’o won best supporting actress.

“This is her first film, straight out of school as I recall, and it was really cool that she got an Oscar for it. Her role in 12 Years was phenomenal and absolutely full of talent. She deserved it so much and I think everyone is happy for her. I think the supporting actor awards went to the most deserving people. I love Jared Leto,” Parker said.

Cate Blanchett and Matthew McConaughey won best actress and actor for their roles in Blue Jasmine and Dallas Buyers Club respectively.

“I didn’t even think Dallas Buyers Club was going to get nominated when it first came out and when it was nominated I had to go see it. That’s when I understood why. McConaughey blew me away. I loved how he changed his body for the role, it made it more believable and I think it helped him re-create his character so fluidly and realistically,” Parker said.

Montoya took a different view on the outcome.

“I think American Hustle was robbed. I kind of knew it didn’t stand a chance against Gravity and 12 Years, but it should have gotten something. Best costume design, best cinematography or Christian Bale should have gotten best actor at least,” Montoya said.

“I’m sorry Sandra Bullock didn’t win for best actress for her amazing work in Gravity.  She basically carried the entire story; all the action, maintaining suspense and engagement, and revealing an enormous range of action and reaction, emotion and thought,” Weber said.

Ellen Degeneres hosted the ceremony. She ordered pizza in the audience, and the owner of Mama’s and Papa’s Pizzeria in Los Angeles distributed the pizza among the celebrities in the front few rows. Degeneres also crashed Twitter with her celebrity selfie and broke a world record for the most retweets of a picture, garnering almost 3 million within 24 hours.

“She was entertaining to say the least,” Montoya said. “She did a good job the last time she hosted, but I think this time she really brought the stars out of their shells and we got to see them as real people rather than as celebrities. The selfie was too fun to watch. Overall it was a really fun night and another great year of filmmaking.”

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