The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Awards, or simply the Academy Awards; known better by their common name, THE OSCARS, are back.It is the most prestigious film award in the entire world’s film calendar. For all practitioners of any of the arts encompassed within film, an Oscar is the icing on the cake, the cherry on top of the pie, the Holy Grail, the Crème de la Crème, the…(I’ve run out of ways of describing how cool an Oscar is). It is the highlight of the entire entertainment industry. And this year, all the glitz and glamour of this worldwide frenzy we call the Oscars did not disappoint as the who’s who trod down the massive 500ft (150m) long and 33ft (9.9m) wide red carpet.

This has got to be the biggest annual advertisement in the world reaching a target of 40 million Americans streaming live on ABC Networkand around 1.2 billion people worldwide across 60 countries. This year, a 30 second ad spot is said tohave gone for $1.8 million and rightly so considering the events appeal and reach. Coupling the number of stars converged in one place and the allure of the countless designer dresses and outfits lining the red carpet, the Oscars are the greatest TV special drawing the greatest viewership of affluent women.Last year the viewership was 62% female. Speaking of women, Lupita Nyong’o: The award ceremonies’ ‘it girl’ at the moment has dazzled and dominated magazine covers and fashion spreads all over the world.

And to crown this, the 86th annual Academy Awards at The 3,400-seater Dolby Theatre along Hollywood Boulevard, saw her nab the Oscar for the role of best supporting actress for her international debut acting role as Patsey in Steve McQueen’s adapted drama, 12 Years a Slave, she has become both the first Kenyan to be nominated for an Oscar and to win one.

‘Thank you to the Academy for this incredible recognition. It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so my joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else’s. And so I want to salute the spirit of Patsey for her guidance. And Solomon, thank you for telling her story and your own…

…When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every little child that no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.’ These were Lupita Nyong’o’s emotionally charged words as she accepted her gold plated statue. And what a speech! That last part really raised my hairs as I watched it in a crammed cyber in the mid afternoon Nairobi heat. For Kenyans here at home and all over the world, this is a moment of victory for Lupita Nyong’o and for anyone else. Our very own darling actress has opened the doors of Hollywood wide open by scooping this coveted award.

However, the Oscars ceremony did not start or end with Lupita; it was a night full of wins for some films and the opposite for others. And to make it wholesome, Jennifer Lawrence, everyone’s best friend, tripped on an orange cone which blended with her red dress. (Huhh???). Guiding the entire night was Ellen DeGeneres, coming back to host after 7 years, so soon. (Her words). Her 10 or so minutes introduction saw her crack jokes at the expense of the excited crowd. Ellen masterfully worked Hollywood’s elite from Meryl Streep’s record 18 nominations, June Squibb’s advanced age (84), Jared Leto’s looks (the prettiest person there) and my personal favourite Jonah Hill’s performance in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’. He showed her something she hadn’t seen in years… (Get it?). If you don’t, you either didn’t watch the movie or you don’t know Ellen. Or maybe you’re just dumb, which isn’t anyone’s fault.

Aside from the other Oscar happenings, the actual awards were dished out as follows:

(Award winners in bold against the other nominees.)

Best Picture

12 years a Slave”, “The Wolf of Wall Street”, “Captain Phillips”, “Her”, “American Hustle”, “Gravity”, “Dallas Buyers Club”, “Nebraska”, “Philomena”.

Best Director

“Steve McQueen — 12 Years a Slave”, “David O. Russell — American Hustle”, “Alfonso Cuaron — Gravity”, “Alexander Payne — Nebraska”, “Martin Scorsese — The Wolf of Wall Street”.

Best Actor

“Bruce Dern — Nebraska”, “Chiwetel Ejiofor — 12 Years a Slave”, “Matthew McConaughey — Dallas Buyers Club”, “Leonardo DiCaprio — The Wolf of Wall Street”, “Christian Bale — American Hustle”.

Best Actress

“Amy Adams — American Hustle”, “Cate Blanchett — Blue Jasmine”, “Judi Dench — Philomena”, “Sandra Bullock — Gravity”, “Meryl Streep – August: Osage County”.

Best Supporting Actor

“Barkad Abdi — Captain Phillips”, “Bradley Cooper — American Hustle”, “Jonah Hill — The Wolf of Wall Street”, “Jared Leto — Dallas Buyers Club”, “Michael Fassbender — 12 Years a Slave”.

Best Supporting Actress

“Jennifer Lawrence — American Hustle”, “Lupita Nyong’o — 12 Years a Slave”, “June Squibb — Nebraska”, “Julia Roberts — August: Osage County”, “Sally Hawkins — Blue Jasmine”.

Best Original Screenplay

“American Hustle — David O. Russell and Eric Warren Singer”, “Blue Jasmine — Woody Allen”, “Her –Spike Jonze”, “Nebraska — Bob Nelson”, “Dallas Buyers Club — Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack”.

Best Adapted Screenplay

12 Years a Slave — John Ridley”, “Before Midnight — Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke and Richard Linklater”, “The Wolf of Wall Street — Terence Winter”, “Captain Phillips — Billy Ray”, “Philomena –Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope”.

Best Animated Feature

“The Wind Rises”, “Frozen”, “Despicable Me 2”, “Ernest and Celestine”, “The Croods”.

Best Foreign Feature

“The Hunt (Denmark)”, “The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium)”, “The Great Beauty (Italy)”, “Oman (Palestinian territories)”, “The Missing Picture (Cambodia)”.

Best music (original song)

“Frozen” Let It Go — Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez;

“Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” Ordinary Love — U2, Paul Hewson;

“Her” The Moon Song — Karen O, Spike Jonze;

“Despicable Me 2” Happy — Pharrell Williams;

“Alone Yet Not Alone” Alone Yet Not Alone — Bruce Broughton, Dennis Spiegel;

Best music (original score)

Gravity — Steven Price”, “Philomena Alexandre Desplat”, “The Book Thief — John Williams”, “Saving Mr. Banks — Thomas Newman”, “Her William Butler and Owen Pallett”.

Best Cinematography

Gravity — Emmanuel Lubezki”, “Inside Llewyn Davis — Bruno Delbonnel”, “Nebraska — Phedon Papamichael”, “Prisoners — Roger Deakins”, “The Grandmaster — Phillippe Le Sourd”.

Best Costume design

The Great Gatsby — Catherine Martin”, “12 Years a Slave — Patricia Norris”, “The Grandmaster — William Chang Suk Ping”, “American Hustle –Michael Wilkinson”, “The Invisible Woman — Michael O’Conner”.

Best documentary feature

“The Act of Killing”, “20 Feet from Stardom”, “The Square”, “Cutie and the Boxer”, “Dirty Wars”.

Best Film editing

“Gravity — Alfonso Cuaron, Mark Sanger”,

“12 Years a Slave — Joe Walker”,

“Captain Phillips — Christopher Rouse”,

“American Hustle — Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers and Alan Baumgarten”,

“Dallas Buyers Club — John Mac McMurphy and Martin Pensa”.

Best makeup and hairstyling

“The lone Ranger — Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua-Casny”,

“Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa — Stephen Prouty”,

“Dallas Buyers Club — Adruitha Lee and Robin Matthews”,

Best Production Design

“12 Years a Slave — Adam Stockhausen and Alice Baker”,

“The Great Gatsby — Catherine Martin and Beverly Dunn”,

“American Hustle — Judy Becker and Heather Loeffler”,

“Gravity — Andy Nicholson, Rosie Goodwin and Joanne Woollard”,

“Her — K.K. Barrett and Gene Serdena”.

Best visual effects

Gravity”, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”, “Star Trek: Into the Darkness”, “Iron Man 3”, “The Lone Ranger”.

Best sound mixing

Gravity”, “Captain Phillips”, “Lone Survivor”, “Inside Llewyn Davis”, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”.

Best sound editing

Gravity”, “All is Lost”, “Captain Phillips”, “Lone Survivor”, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”.

Best short film, live action

“Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasnt Me)”, “Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything)”, “Helium”, “PitaakoMunKaikkiHoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)”, “The Voorman Problem”.

Best short film, animated

“Feral”, “Get a Horse!”, “Mr. Hublot”, “Possessions”, “Room on the Broom”.

Best documentary short

“Cave Digger”, “Facing Fear”, “Karama Has No Walls”, “The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life”, “Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Prisoner Jack Hall”.

The movies tipped to face off were Gravity, American Hustle with 10 nominations each and 12 Years a Slave with 9 nominations. The biggest winner of the day was definitely Alfonso Cuaron’s space survival drama,Gravity, taking home a whooping 7 Oscars mostly on the creative technical categories but unfortunately despite being the first Latino director to win the best director Oscar, Gravity lost out in the coveted prize of best picture. This went to the other big winner Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave following the tale of Solomon Northup, a free man kidnapped and sold as a slave to face the harsh life of slavery for a gruelling 12 Years. Steve McQueen’s film was also highly acclaimed considering its heavy subject matter and the moving performances by the cast; he was also on course to make history by being the first black man to win the best director Oscar but that stands to be broken another year.

The biggest loser was definitely American Hustle with 10 nominations and not a single Oscar clinched. The master supporting actress Amy Adams who was up for best actress for American Hustle this time lost out to Cate Blanchett in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine despite her stellar performance with her very convincing British accent. I had my money on her, but I guess the 6000 members of the Academy saw different.Martin Scorcese’s dark comedy The Wolf of Wall Street with its 522 Fbombs must have been the biggest loser of the entire award season with only a single award won in the Golden Globes: DiCaprio’s best actor in a musical or comedy, despite the countless nominations, which compounds Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscar drought. He continues to seek the elusive Oscar and considering his filmography you would wonder what it would take for him to get an Oscar.

Dallas Buyers Club, the tale of Ron Woodroof, a HIV infected cowboy in Dallas up against Big Pharmaceutical in his quest to find alternative medication that will prolong his life and others like him and still make money off it, is the film that finally credited Matthew McConaughey his first Oscar. He went on to give his sort of narcissist speech where he acknowledged himself as his own role model. That the person he chases is himself, 10 years in the future; a stark contrast to Lupita’s humble and thoughtful speech. Jared Leto also got an Oscar nod for supporting actor in the same film as he portrayed a HIV infected gay man cross dressing as a woman for almost the entire film.

The Oscars are something we will always look forward to not only because of the glamour and the stars but for the business minded it is quite a sweet deal if you’re looking to make some money and still be in close proximity to your favourite stars. I’m sure you didn’t know that seat fillers at the Oscars are actually paid $125 for their services. Sweet deal, right? That’s something above Ksh 10,000, but don’t get your hopes up so much I’m sure the waiting list is the length of the Great Wall of China. Anyway, if you call yourself a film lover or have at one point or the other been termed so, you must watch all the films nominated in all the categories at The Oscars, who knows, it could be a step on your journey to the Oscars, a long one though it may be and when you find Ellen DeGeneres there let’s hope she’s generous with compliments.

@Kimani Wandaka

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