Academy Awards were a ‘mixed bag’ this year

Column by Ned Leebrick-Stryker

Ned Leebrick-stryker-w2000-h2000Ladies and gentleman, I am well aware of the relevance of my article by the time you read this.

The tweets have been tweeted and the memes have been created, but that won’t stop me from talking about the Oscars one more time.

If you read my column last week, give me a pat on the back the next time you see me.

In all the major categories, my predictions were correct, and that made me very happy.

The awards were handed out to the right people. Those who deserved a win that night more or less got one.

Yet, as the credits rolled and another Academy Awards came to a close, not only did I realize there was a politics quiz I had forgotten to study for, I also felt strangely unsatisfied with what I had just seen.

It certainly was not the recipients of the awards. In fact, I strongly feel this was one of the first times the academy got it right.

But something still felt off. It took some reflection, note-taking and avoiding my studying, but I came to a conclusion: There must have been an incredibly low budget this year.

Think about it: There are usually large dance numbers, intricate opening monologues and comedy sketches. With the exception of the underwhelming performances from U2, Idina Menzel and even Pharrell Williams (Although did like Karen O’s understated performance of “The Moon Song”), these were all absent.

No Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis to annoy Brad Pitt and no gay men’s choir to sing “We Saw Your Boobs.”

Ellen Degeneres was our only window into comedy or pure entertainment, but she, too, was lacking.

Her opening monologue seemed littered with recycled and tired jokes including shots at actors and actresses with old age, which made me roll my eyes.

Her jest about Jennifer Lawrence’s embarrassing trip on her way up to the stage to grab her Oscar the previous year lasted uncomfortably long, far after I was done laughing.

The only true guffaw that I produced came from Ellen’s topical quip about how the night could go:  “Possibility number one: ‘12 Years a Slave’ wins Best Picture, possibility number two, you’re all racists.”

In addition, it seemed Ellen, and most presenters during the night, were incredibly unprepared for what they had to do.

Actors appeared to not have read their scripts before coming out to talk to the audience.

There were stumbles and stutters every five minutes. No better example can be cited than with John Travolta. “Please welcome the wickedly talented, one and only, Adele Dazeem.”

Even I was confused. Had I been pronouncing Idina Menzel’s name wrong this whole time? Is my life a lie?

It was a messy production. It felt as though nothing had been rehearsed.

Yet, as much as I have been complaining, I would like to end my column on a positive note, and there were still some shining moments in lackluster telecast.

Bill Murray’s impromptu shout-out to the recently deceased Harold Ramis was genuinely moving.

Ellen walking through the audience felt long, but her selfie taking followed by instant posts to Twitter was a lot of fun.

Her pizza ordering wasn’t that entertaining of a joke until the reveal that she had actually done it.

It also warmed my heart when Jared Leto took a piece and handed it to his mother, something some people may have missed, but it was a sweet moment.

Leto’s acceptance speech was humble and touching, speaking about his mother, brother and individuals with AIDS across the world.

Conversely, his co-star Matthew, was anything but humble. Still, his “all right, all right, all right” made me grin.

I was happy to see Lupita Nyong’o snag an award as well. I don’t generally participate in “best dressed” conversations, but if I were to, she’d take home more than an Oscar.

Her movie, “12 Years a Slave,” winning Best Picture made me extremely excited. I have ranted in the past about the Academy’s fear of films that aren’t particularly uplifting or “feel good,” but I am starting to see a shift in a different direction.

Disappointing though not terrible by any stretch of the imagination, the Oscars were ultimately a mixed bag.

That means award season is over.

So now, I ask, where do I go from here? What should I write about?

I am not sure, dear reader. I may have to pay for movies again, to have something to talk about.

Television could be the way to go. Perhaps rants on “Batman Vs. Superman” or geeky news about the next “Avengers” flick would do me well?

My column is open canvas, and I am ready to paint. Until next week reader!

Leebrick-Stryker is a first-year broadcast news major and can be reached at


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