Special Report: The 84th Annual Academy Awards

Kodak Theatre, Hollywood, CA, March 5, 2014 -- Drum roll, please. Mere minutes ago, the fateful envelopes were shred. The stars were studded, the gala splendiferous, the suspense: deadly. The 84th Annual Academy Awards here at the Kodak Theatre on Hollywood & Highland rolled out the famed red carpet for an unprecedented audience of the well-known, the less well-known, and the surgically notorious, and in the flash of flash bulbs and the clash of cymbals the fate of Hollywood's finest and sublimest slipped like bounding balloons from a ceiling net, bounced off the inert foreheads of a picture-perfect audience, and ricocheted into any of a hundred HDTV lenses. History, for the 84th consecutive year, was made.

Surprises, however, were few and far between, but only because the quality of the favored nominees so fantastically outstripped the competition. The Academy's decisions could only be said to be the epitomes of fairness, impartiality, and good taste. The underdogs were dogged, the frontrunners led the pack, and All was Right with the Universe this beautiful March evening, the ambiance so thick you could taste it.

But enough poetry, let's get to the winners!


The coveted 2014 Academy Award for Best Picture went, to universal acclaim, to the moving Lexus Memories, starring Brad Pitt and Jessica Simpson, an epic drama depicting the struggles of a middle-aged suburban Protestant struggling to find peace and fulfilment in the dog-eat-dog world of corporate finance. Pitt's impassioned performance could have earned him an Oscar for Best Actor, and if you read on, you'll see that impression confirmed. His character's emotional depth is perhaps best reflected in the memorable monologue that launches act three of the two-hour, twenty-two minute production:

Harvey Miller (played by Brad Pitt): "I like to talk to myself when I drive, you know, have a monologue like I'm doing now. It puts me in touch with myself, with my thoughts. With the depths of my emotions. And I can think of no place quieter to do that in than the luxuriously appointed, plush leather cabin of an all-new 2015 Lexus LX4. Ah. If I were real, not just a character in a movie, I'd probably run out and buy one now…. Damn! That bastard cut me off. If you can't change lanes, stay the hell off the Saw Mill, fuckwit. Thank God I'm in a Lexus, which with its side-impact protection and reinforced chassis will keep me safe and sound in the event of a collision."

Moving words, brilliantly delivered. Bravo, Brad.

Director: Kyle Proffitt. Producer: Ogilvy and Mather.


As we hinted above, the prized Best Actor award went to Pitt for Lexus Memories, and didn't he deserve it! A performance this dazzling doesn't come along more than half a dozen times a season, at most.


The Academy Award for Best Actress went to the woman who warmed all our hearts this season with her wrenching portrayal of a drug-addled Las Vegas prostitute who attempts to have an illegal abortion performed following a gang rape, nearly dies of internal hemorrhaging, and is spiritually redeemed moments before her execution on fetal murder charges by a kindly televangelist (played by Tom Berenger). We're talking, of course, about Bob and Chandra, a story that will live forever, and our darling new Empress of Bathos, Patricia Heaton. Kudos, Patricia!

Director: Mel Gibson. Producer: Bob Jones University.


The "Booby Prize" for Best Supporting Actor went this year to Ben Affleck for his role as Sparky in the action-musical UPS Two Pound Pack. Affleck plays the moderately challenged but lovable mail-room attendant responsible for ensuring that UPS packages, once delivered rapidly and securely to his office building, are passed along to their respective addressees, dispensing worldly wisdom and family-friendly humor all the while. Affleck spent over four months in Milan perfecting his tonal range, and carried off his solo in the musical's delightful "Absolutely, Positively" number with flair, panache, and near-perfect pitch. Bravo, Ben!

Director: Ernesto Mountebank. Producer: Leo Burnett


…goes, of course, to Britney Spears for her role as Brenda in Marty and the Maytag. Britney performs dazzlingly as Brenda, the cheerful homemaker who makes certain her terrorist-sniffing rhesus monkey and leading man Marty is rendered spic, span and ready for action after his daring missions, using her deluxe Maytag Monkey-Friendly Washer-Dryer. Despite Britney's pert performance, Marty was the real show-stealer, and who will ever forget the heart-stopping moment when Marty, precariously balanced on a 45th story window ledge, laser-guided the Patriot missile straight into the bombers' electronic nerve center. Great show, Marty, and cheers, Britney.

Director: Nike Swoosh. Producer: Young & Rubicam


Last, but not least, the heavyweight title of this year's Oscars, the Academy Award for Best Directing, goes to repeat winner Martin Scorcese for the nerve-jangling drama-thriller, The Buffalo Hunter. Scorcese's directing places the viewer deep inside the demented psyche of the film's protagonist, serial killer Cameron Sponge, straps him down to a metaphysical gurney and applies electric shocks to the testicles of his suspense until the S.W.A.T. team of the closing credits storms the upstate New York shack of the film and sends him stumbling to the oasis of a multiplex parking lot. Well done, Martin, well done.

That's all from us for this year's gala, except for stating that we're waiting on tenterhooks for the next one, which promises to be even more riveting than the last. Less than one year to go, thank God!

For the complete list of this year's winners, visit oscarsgala2014.com.

By Ion Zwitter, Avant News Editor

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