THE MOVIE DIARY
Starry, Starry Night
By Dom Cioffi
This past weekend saw the conclusion of Hollywood's never-ending
awards season with the broadcast of the 86th Academy Awards show,
affectionally known as the Oscars.
The party included several memorable moments, a cavalcade of the
rich and famous, and over 43 million viewers, the telecast's best
showing in over a decade (the viewership record for the Oscars was
set in 1998 when 55.3 million people watched the blockbuster
"Titanic" run away with 11 Oscars, including Best Picture).
The festivities had it all, including a late night munchie call
from host Ellen Degeneres' to Los Angeles-based Big Mama's &
Papa's Pizzeria for an order of pies (talk about publicity that
will never stop paying off!)
While it initially seemed like nothing more than a funny riff about
the irony of ordering pizza at such a grand event, the gag was
taken up a notch when a real-life pizza delivery guy showed up on
stage 15 minutes later carrying a stack of pies.
Ellen then proceeded to hand out slices to Tinsel Town's elite,
including Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep,
Martin Scorsese, Jennifer Lawrence and Christian Bale
(incidentally, Leonardo DiCaprio declined.)
Other highlights included a moving rendition of "Wind Beneath My
Wings" by classic songstress Bette Midler to commemorate the
passing of some of Hollywood's most notable actors, including James
Gandolfini, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Peter O'Toole, Paul Walker and
most recently, Shirley Temple.
One unique record that was broken took place mid-way through the
telecast when Ellen tweeted a "selfie" of her and several
A-listers. The photo generated 2.7 million retweets, sending the
host into the social media record books while also generating an
epic marketing coup for Samsung, a major sponsor to the show.
Google the words "Oscars" and "selfie" and you can see the photo
for yourself (and then stew about how damn perfect these stars
Overall, the show was a big success and surprisingly pleasant to
watch. Many of the speeches were warm and heartfelt, especially
Jared Leto's and Matthew McConaughy's. Meanwhile, Degeneres'
low-key manner kept the party light and upbeat.
I was fairly successful on my Oscar picks, picking all four of the
acting categories correctly, although I was shocked that "American
Hustle" walked away empty handed.
My biggest problem with the Oscars, however, had nothing to
do with the show. It was the campy pre-show regalia that really
Now, granted, I am not a fashionista, and I fully admit that I am
completely inept when it comes to judging quality craftsmanship in
clothing. But this pre-show cat-walk stuff seems a bit
over-the-top. And without getting too personal with character
attacks, all I can say is that the folks doing the judging seemed
more interested in saying the right thing than really giving an
educated overview of fashion design.
But more importantly, I never really get the sense that the stars
are all that comfortable with the process anyway.
However, I have to give credit to Ryan Seacrest. Standing live on
camera while Hollywood's latest and greatest flow by you in a
constant stream must be exhausting. And yet this guy has the knack
to put everyone at ease while coaxing out a tidbit or two of
interesting information about the star's lives or the films that
they are connected with.
Whatever that guy makes, he's worth every penny.
In the end (literally), the night comes down to which film wins the
coveted Best Picture Oscar. This year the award went to "12 Years a
Slave," and while my vote may have leaned toward another selection,
I must admit that this picture was riveting and ultimately a
"12 Years a Slave" is the true story of Solomon Northup, a New York
State-born free African American man who was kidnapped in
Washington, D.C., in 1841 and illegally sold into slavery. The film
is based on his 1853 memoir.
I caught this picture just prior to Sunday night's telecast and was
well aware of the success it had already garnered in previous
award's shows. There's no doubt that it contains all the elements
needed for a masterpiece of film: a great story, a well-written
script, many intense performances, and top notch production.
Admittedly, this is not an easy film to watch as it focuses on a
radical injustice thrust upon an innocent man during a very
contentious period in American history. However, the story is an
important one and worthy of being watched.
I encourage anyone who hasn't seen this film to check it out as
soon as possible - whether it be in a theater or on DVD since it is
now available for home viewing. Just be prepared for an
overwhelmingly heart-wrenching story.
An indentured "A-" for "12 Years a Slave."
Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at