There were no great shocks in the 2014 Oscars, and most people would agree that the awards went to worthy winners in most categories. Many critics were disappointed that the movie Gravity denied American Hustle a win in so many categories, but this is what happens when the standards are so high.
The host, Ellen DeGeneres, wasn’t a hit with all Oscar ceremony viewers, but there have certainly been worse shows in the past. Winners in the key categories were as follows.
1. Best Actor – Mathew McConaughey
Leonardo DiCaprio was tipped by many to win this award, but Matthew McConaughey was certainly a hit with the critics for his performance in Dallas Buyers Club. Based on a true story, McConaughey plays the role of a terminally ill HIV patient in the movie. The role is one that truly tests an actor’s range, and McConaughey delivered the performance of his career as the character Ron Woodroof.
It’s interesting to look at McConaughey’s career progression as an actor, and he’s not someone you would have tipped to win the coveted Best Actor Oscar a few years ago.
Recent roles in Killer Joe (2011), Magic Mike (2012) and Mud (2012) are where you really see his development as an actor. McConaughey lost forty pounds to play the lead role in Dallas Buyers Club, and the commitment he put into the movie is remarkable.
The subject matter demands an actor capable of serious drama, but there are also moments of comedy. The Oscar win will open many opportunities over the coming years, and it will be very interesting to see how McConaughley develops as an actor.
2. Best Actress – Cate Blanchett
Blanchett was the runaway favourite for the 2014 Best Actress Oscar, so it was no surprise when she beat Amy Adams and Sandra Bullock to take the award. She previously won an Oscar for her role in The Aviator in 2005 as Best Supporting Actress.
Controversial subjects were a theme of the Oscars in 2014, with slavery, terminal illness and drug addiction the backdrops to some of the winning movies. Blue Jasmine was an equally challenging subject for Blanchett. Charting the fall from grace of a New York socialite, Blue Jasmine tackles depression, class, addiction and social issues.
Blanchett made reference to the lack of strong lead roles for women in today’s movies in her acceptance speech, and thanked Woody Allen for casting her. She paid tribute to each of her fellow nominees individually, and recognised their achievements in the film industry.
3. Best Picture – 12 Years a Slave
Competition was very strong in the Best Picture category this year, with many predicting American Hustle, Gravity or The Wolf of Wall Street would win the award. There was certainly no disappointment when it was confirmed 12 Years a Slave followed its Bafta success with the Best Picture award.
A cast of top names including Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt and Benedict Cumberbatch meant the movie was always going to be a hit with critics, but it was the direction by Steve McQueen that makes it one of the best movies of all time.
Lupita Nyong took the Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, and 12 Years a Slave also won the Best Writing from an Adapted Screenplay award.
American slavery has been tackled by many great movies in the past, but 12 Years a Slave is now widely regarded as the best on the subject.
Steve McQueen’s adaptation of the memoirs of Solomon Northrup explores territory movies like Gone With the Wind haven’t ventured into. The searing tale of a free man sold into slavery could be the start of a more honest examination of America’s history.