Beastly Reviews: The 2014 Academy Awards

Bradley Cooper was so sexy last night. Brutally, smolderingly sexy.
But let’s see, other things happened too. Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity rose to the top. Bafflingly, this film (entirely created with CGI magic) was given the Oscar for Best Cinematography. What “cinematography” was actually in the film is a question future cinematographers will ask in film classes. Or they won’t.

This New York Times article explains how the breathtaking film was made. Similar to Avatar a few years ago, the creative team had to invent a new form of filmmaking. This seems to be a growing trend, since Best Cinematography awards have gone to CGI-heavy films in recent years.

Sanda Bullock's performance in Gravity is one of the best of her career.

Joaquin Phoenix won nothing for his career-defining performance in Her, even though he delivered, in my humble opinion, this year’s most emotionally complex performance. Her did win Best Original Screenplay.

When I saw Dallas Buyers Club its opening week, I thought, “This film is so hard to market that it’s going to get ignored.” I was thankfully very wrong.

Matthew McConaughey seemed a little out of place in the main role, but he delivered the performance of his career. McConaughey started changing audience expectations in 2012 with dark indies like Mud, Killer Joe, and Lee Daniels’ The Paperboy. I saw all of them, watched the evolution happen, and still felt McConaughey was an odd choice for a role that could easily be hated by queer people. But maybe that’s why it was given to him: The actor gives the persistent aura of a red-blooded Texas conservative, someone out of place among AIDS-addled drag queens and activist homos during the height of the epidemic.

And if queer people feel offended that Dallas erases us from our own tragedy, commits pinkface with the invention of Jared Leto’s “Rayon” character, and awards a hero’s medal to the lone hetero savior, McConaughey is the casting choice that permits us to say, “The director knew we’d see the clear problems in the story, and he picked the most ill-suited man to play a problematic role.” It works because McConaughey is legitimately good and delivers a good performance, and because his character — a straight, antigay, womanizing Ron Woodroof — was really a homophobic asshole before he became our unlikely ally, and fought for us when we needed someone to.

Jared Leto took home the award for Best Supporting Actor for his turn as Dallas trans woman Rayon. The role has caused some controversy.

Yes, there are trans actresses that could have played the role. But before the part became political, it was a job for Leto, and one he did well. He delivered a powerful and stirring performance. It would be more precise to take issue with the casting director or the screenwriter responsible for the off-color trans jokes in the film.


oscars 2014 2

Now, about the looks.

Guys in suits generally get overlooked by gown-clad starlets, so I’ll simply mention a few passing remarks over the dreadful white dinner jacket thing that invaded this year’s red carpet.

Along with McConaughey, Jared Leto and Ryan Seacrest also wore white jackets. Thespians: white jackets still belong to jackasses on prom night, the guys who show up in fedoras and walking canes, who perform senior pranks and get DUIs the year they go to college. Let’s not make this a thing.

white jacket

Pharrell Williams wore a Lanvin jacket and shorts. Yes, shorts. I loved the look. Bradley Cooper rocked a simple black bowtie and some dashing scruff, proving that a gentleman doesn’t have to go for flash.

After starring in two films that rocked the Oscars (Silver Linings Playbook last year and this year’s American Hustle) I wish Bradley would win something. Ellen, thanks for the legendary selfie. You bless us.


The night was hot with tension and social politics, but overall we left feeling rewarded, if not a little unmoved, at this year’s winners.

Bradley, keep smiling in the tunnels of my heart.

— Beastly 

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