The 2014 Oscars Made History by Breaking Records and Barriers (and Twitter)

3 years ago

The 86th Academy Awards broke a number of records and wrapped up a compelling year in movies on a high note. You never know what awards shows will offer, and that's why I love them. I'll take the bad with the good and take biased industry elitism with a grain of salt in exchange for the trendcasting and highlighted moments that come with live awards shows.

This year's theme ending up being "breaking," which was a thrilling break from some outdated patterns-- and thanks to host Ellen DeGeneres, a massive improvement over last year. If television last year was all about Breaking Bad, maybe movies were about Breaking Good and we're on an upward trend.

Breaking Social Media Records: Go Ellen!

Ellen was a fairly low key, starting the night with a monologue and then weaving short bits, and a few wardrobe changes, throughout the night. I liked her tone, because she allowed acceptance speeches to be the centerpiece of the show, and many of them were phenomenal. One of her big bits ended up stalling Twitter with a selfie gambit to break a retweeting record. She also brought in pizza for hungry celebs (and collected cash and Lupita's lip gloss in Pharrell's famous hat to pay the bill) and appeared in a Good Witch Glenda costume in short bits that lent themselves to gifs. Smart player, that Ellen, and she wants to play with us.

The selfie (JULIA! MERYL! J-LAW!) was on point with the role social media plays in industry promotion and audience engagement. Ellen's tweet ultimately broke the record previously held by President Obama. My retweet is in there; how about yours?

Breaking Barriers #1: Alfonso Cuarón, First Latino Director to Win an Academy Award for Best Direction

Gravity was one of the night's big winners, pulling in seven awards, and Alfonso Cuarón broke an important barrier when he nabbed the Best Director award. I loved his acceptance speech, especially when he addressed Sandra Bullock as his "collaborator."

Breaking Barriers #2: 12 Years a Slave Wins and Is First Movie by a Black Director to Win Best Picture

What an amazing moment when 12 Years a Slave made history by winning the Best Picture award! What an amazing film! British director Steve McQueen's masterpiece also won two other Oscars in addition to the top prize, including Best Supporting Actress for Lupita Nyong'o and Best Adapted Screenplay for John Ridley based on the memoir of Solomon Northup.

Breaking into the EGOT Club: Bobby Lopez

It was a night for brilliant acceptance speeches, not the least of which was given by writers Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Bobby Lopez who won the Best Song award for Frozen's "Let It Go." The win gave Bobby Lopez the rare and coveted EGOT designation for winning an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony. Try to control your tears when Kristen speaks to her daughter in their energized acceptance speech.

Breaking Silences: Lupita Nyong'o Wins Best Supporting Actress

Lupita Nyong'o
© Yang Lei/Xinhua/

What was perhaps the finest moment of the night came early, when the stunning Lupita Nyong'o was recognized for her work in 12 Years a Slave. She raised up the name of Patsey when saluting her spirit in her eloquent and memorable acceptance speech. Flawless, moving and memorable, it was a singular moment.

Breaking the Tension: Best Comedic and Most Entertaining Moments

What's a live awards show without memorable moments of unexpected fun?

My favorite: Pharrell + Meryl.

One of the only flubs of the night belonged to John Travolta. Oh, Danny.

I will always love U2. Gen X runs deep. Can't help it. They performed "Ordinary Love."

Pink was phenomenal and received a standing ovation.

Stars. They're just like us.

Jared loves his mom.

Cate Blanchett used most of her stage time to highlight the need for equity in opportunities for women, along with a thank-you to Woody Allen.

In general, the night was low on snark and high on celebration, affirmation and hope. What were your favorite moments?

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