The Oscars (2014) - Plot Summary Poster

(2014 TV Special)


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  • The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences celebrates the year's achievements in film.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Please welcome your host.... Ellen DeGeneres.

    Ellen strolls out onto a stage of dozens of translucent Oscar statues surrounding her like a silent chorus.

    We begin. "Welcome to the Oscars. For those of you watching from around the world, it has been a tough couple of days here.... It has been raining. We're fine, thank you for your prayers."

    "I'm happy to be back, I hosted seven years ago and I'm so honored and flattered that they had me back so quickly." (The applause welcoming her drowns out her punch line.)

    She points out how much has changed. Last time Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep and Leonardo DiCaprio were all nominated... so different. (All are nominated tonight.)

    As for first time nominees, there's June Squibb, for "Nebraska." At 84, she's the oldest nominee. "She was wonderful in Nebraska."

    Ellen pauses, and repeats herself, loudly, for Squibb's (comedic) benefit.

    Barkhad Abdi is from Somali, which makes him a "Somali-et, which means he knows a lot about wine." (A sommelier joke, anyone?)

    The real Captain Phillips and the real Philomena are here tonight and "one of the most amazing Liza Minnelli impersonators I have ever seen in my life."

    Cut to actual Liza Minnelli in the audience.

    "Good job, sir."

    The theme for the evening is "Heroes in Hollywood," which is important because movies inspire us. "I'm not saying movies are the most important thing in the world, because we all know the most important thing is youth."

    She tells everyone to think of themselves as winners. "Well, not all of you. But the people who have won before. And I know what you're thinking, Ellen, that's easy for you to say but you've been chosen to host and that's sort of the highest award there is. Thank you."

    She did a little math and between all the nominees they've made 1,400 movies... and six years of college. Kids, stay in school.

    She checks with Amy Adams. Nope, no college, but she's in two nominated films. "That is so, what is the word for it? Selfish."

    On to Meryl Streep, who has been nominated 18 times. But between all the dresses and hair and makeup, that's hundreds of thousands of dollars, so Meryl simply cannot afford to be nominated again.

    She encourages everyone not to to think of it as a competition. "Although who are we kidding? It's the Hunger Games. There are cameras everywhere, you're starving, Jennifer Lawrence won last year...."

    She addresses Jennifer in the audience, and promises not to bring up what happened last year. (She pantomimes tripping.) "It's ridiculous. Something like that happens and it's embarrassing and it's just, you know....For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, when Jennifer won last year she fell on the way up. Tripped. Ugh. I don't know if she got caught on the dress. Let's show the clip. I'm kidding.... And you know that thing where you fell out of the car tonight? No one needs to know that. I'm not going to mention that. She fell, on the way out of the car.... If you win tonight, I think we should bring you the Oscar."

    She compliments the beautiful women in the audience, but promises not to say who's the most beautiful, "but it's Jared Leto."

    "Dallas Buyer's Club' deals with the serious issue of people who have sex at rodeos.... speaking of sex at the rodeo, Bruce Dern is here tonight."

    Bruce Dern's grandfather was the governor of Utah, his great-uncle was a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and his godmother was Eleanor Roosevelt. "And here you are among us tonight. (Pause.) What went wrong?"

    On to Jonah Hill for "Wolf of Wall Street" ....

    "I have to say you showed me something in that film that I have not see for a very, very long time," she says. (Hint: man parts.)

    There are several possibilities for the evening. The first is that "12 Years a Slave" wins Best Picture. "Possibility No. 2: You're all racists. And now, please welcome our first white presenter....Anne Hathaway."

    Anne comes out to "I Dreamed a Dream" (naturally). She names the nominees for Best Supporting Actor's character's. (The clips are longer than in past years and there's a pause after each for applause, this bloat turns out to be foreshadowing.)

    And the Oscar goes to... Jared Leto for "Dallas Buyer's Club."

    "Ellen, I love you. To my fellow nominees, I'm so proud to share this journey with you. I'm in awe and have so much respect for you all....In 1971, Bossier City, Lousiana, there was a teenage girl who was pregnant with her second child. She was a high school drop out and a single mom, but somehow she managed to make a better life for herself and her children. She encouraged her kids to be creative, to work hard, to do something special. That girl is my mother, and she's here tonight and I just want to say, I love you mom, thank you for teaching me to dream."

    He also thanks his brother and band mate Shannon.

    "To all the dreamers around the world watching this tonight in places like the Ukraine and Venezuela, I want to say: We are here, and as you struggle to make your dreams happen, to live the impossible, I want to say we are thinking of you tonight."

    Then he gets down to thanking industry folk, finally to the 36 million people who have lost the battle to AIDS. He wraps up with more words of encouragement. (Despite the length of his speech, he doesn't get played off, more ominous foreshadowing.)

    Ellen comes out and mentions she's tweeting. She wants to take a picture of herself looking at the audience.

    Then: "Citizen Kane, Lawrence of Arabia, Ace Ventura. Our next presenter was in one of those. Please welcome, Jim Carrey."

    Jim Carrey opens with: "Don't patronize me!" He mentions how excited he is that one of his idols, Bruce Dern, is nominated. He does his best Dern. "You can't keep a good man down, can you Bruce?"

    On to the category. "For decades, Hollywood has relied on a special kind of magic to conjure movie heroes of all shapes and sizes. From genies, ogres, talking toys and flying elephants and dancing penguins. Of course, this magic I'm referring to is LSD. (Pause.) I might be reading that wrong. (He takes out his glasses.) It's animation. I was way off."

    Roll clips of animated heroes, from Mr. Incredible, Wall-E, Shrek, Ariel, Mickey, Peter Pan, Buzz Lightyear, Dumbo, Roger Rabbit.

    Back to Ellen. "Anyone else feel that was a little light on 'Finding Nemo?'"

    A very pregnant Kerry Washington is out next to introduce Pharrell Williams singing "Happy" from "Despicable Me 2."

    Dozens of dancers join him on stage, including adorable peppy children. He goes out into the audience and seat boogies with very game Lupita Nyong'o, Meryl Streep and Amy Adams.

    He encourages everyone to get up and dance and it seems like some people actually do.

    Up next, Samuel L. Jackson and Naomi Watts to present Achievement in Costume Design. The Oscar goes to Catherine Martin for "The Great Gatsby."

    "I do have a few words tucked into my bra. It's a very Australian thing to do...." she says. She acknowledges her team of seamstress sewing for a show right now and her "incomparable husband, Baz Luhrmann."

    On to Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling. The Oscar goes to "Dallas Buyer's Club," robbing the world of seeing what would happen if the nominated "Jackass" team won an Academy Award. Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews win.

    "You all fought for the hair and makeup in this film," they tell the Academy, and it's hard not to wonder what that looked like.

    Out next, Harrison Ford to the theme from "Indiana Jones."

    He's presenting Best Picture Nominees "American Hustle", "Dallas Buyer's Club", and "Wolf of Wall Street." (Clips roll.)

    Then, Channing Tatum to introduce the six winners of a contest about the future of movies.

    Out in the audience, Ellen explains she doesn't want anyone to go home empty-handed, so she gives Bradley Cooper scratch-off lottery tickets.

    Out next Kim Novak with Matthew McConaughey to present Best Animated Short Film. (Kim goes off script to say how happy she is to be there and they awkwardly talk over each other in introducing the nominees, but she's a legend, so who cares?)

    The Oscar goes to "Mr. Hublot." Directors Laurent Witz and Alexandre Espigares are very nervous and very French.

    Then Best Animated Feature Film goes to "Frozen", Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee and Peter Del Vecho. (Kim adds to the suspense by saying "are you ready?" before announcing the winner.)

    They thank Disney, their families and Chris Buck's son, their guardian angel, Ryder. (An L.A. musician, 23, who was killed when he was hit by a car.)

    Ellen comes back out and barely stands in the frame, opening by saying one of the most important things in film is to always hit your mark. She introduces Sally Field, who talks about ordinary acts of heroism that are made into films. "Stories that illuminate and remind us what it is to be human, and that we're all connected. Here's to the ordinary, extraordinary, everyday heroes," she says.

    Clips roll: Jackie Robinson from "42," Sean Penn from "Milk," "All The President's Men," "The Untouchables," "Zero Dark Thirty," "Argo," Sally in "Norma Rae," Gregory Peck in "To Kill a Mockingbird," Sidney Poitier in "In the Heat of the Night," "Braveheart," "Apollo 13," "Lawrence of Arabia," "Dallas Buyer's Club."

    Then next, Emma Watson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt to present award for Best Achievement in Visual Effects The Oscar goes to 'Gravity' for its stunning visual effects.

    From the audience, Ellen introduces Zac Efron. He's there to introduce Karen O, singing "The Moon Song" from "Her." She sings, seated on stairs on the stage in front of a glowing moon, cooing to her accompanying guitarist.

    Kate Hudson and Jason Sudeikis are out next to present best short film. He says the nominees "prove the wisdom in the old adage: I would have made it shorter, if I'd only had the time."

    The Oscar goes to "Helium", Anders Walter, Kim Magnusson. Anders thanks the Academy for keeping the category in the show and says it's a great showcase.

    On to Best Documentary Short, which goes to "The Lady in No. 6: Music Saved My Life." Malcolm Clarke and Nicholas Reede. Their subject, Alice Sommer, died one week ago today. She was 110. "See the film, she'll help you, I think, lead a much happier life," he says.

    Ellen wanders the audience, saying hello to everyone. She has this crazy idea to order pizza. Pregnant Kerry Washington is in.

    Up next, Scratch-It winner Bradley Cooper. He introduces Best Documentary Feature. The Oscar goes to "20 Feet from Stardom."

    Morgan Neville acknowledges his co-producer Gil Friesen, who passed away before the movie premiere. Then, after thanking his family, he steps aside and lets one of the film's subjects blow the roof off the place. Darlene Love belts out a few lines of "His Eye Is On the Sparrow."

    Kevin Spacey comes out in character as Frank Underwood, then segues into recapping the Governors Awards, which honored Angela Lansbury, Steve Martin, Piero Tossi. The Humanitarian Award went to Angelina Jolie.

    From the show, Tom Hanks salutes Steve Martin. Geoffrey Rush calls Lansbury "the living definition of range." George Lucas honors Angelina Jolie, who references her late mother, who taught her the power of film for good.

    Ewan McGregor and Viola Davis are next to present Best Foreign Language Film, which goes to "The Great Beauty" from Italy. The director thanks his sources of inspiration, including Frederico Fellini, Martin Scorsese and (soccer star) Diego Maradona.

    Tyler Perry follows to introduce Best Picture nominees "Nebraska," "Her," and "Gravity."

    Ellen returns following a costume change (now in a white tux and sneakers) to introduce Brad Pitt, introducing U2 performing "Ordinary Love" from "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom." They go for the spare approach, just four dudes on a stage in front of images of Mandela.

    When we return, Ellen is posing for a selfie with Liza Minell and her blue streak of hair.

    Then, following up Meryl Streep's breaking the record for nominations, Ellen decides she wants to try to break the record for most retweets of a picture. Meryl, Jennifer Lawrence, Channing Tatum, Kevin Spacey, Julia Roberts, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Bradley Cooper, Lupita N'yongo (and her brother Junior) all cram in for the ultimate wattage selfie.

    Then she snaps Chiwetel Ejiofor and gets photobombed by Brad Pitt.

    Michael B. Jordan and Kristen Bell are out next to recap the Scientific and Technical Awards, which honored inventions of hover cameras and a safe air-powered way to flip a car. The honors went to companies and individuals who have revolutionized the ways of film making.

    Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron are out next to present Achievement in Sound Mixing. Charlize does not appear to be aware she is on stage until she botches a line and snaps to reality. The Oscar goes to "Gravity."

    The team thanks director Alfonso Cuaron for his vision and patience.

    Then Achievement in Sound Editing goes to "Gravity." Glenn Freemantle also thanks Alfonso, who pushed them late into the night and sometimes longer.

    Then last year's Best Supporting Actor winner Christoph Waltz to introduce Best Supporting Actress. The Oscar goes to Lupita Nyong'o. She gets an instant standing ovation and hug from Liza Minnelli.

    "It doesn't escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else's, and so I want to salute the spirit of Patsy," she says.

    "Steve McQueen, you charge everything you fashion with the breath of your own spirit. Thank you so much for putting me in this position, this has been the joy of my life."

    She thanks her costars, including "her rock" Michael Fassbender. "When I look down on this golden statue may it remind me and every little child that no matter where you're from, your dreams are valid."

    Ellen comes back out with a pizza guy with three pizzas and distributes them. Chiwetel, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts dig in.

    Kevin Spacey takes one and starts distributing, Brad Pitt hands out plates. She makes sure pregnant Kerry and Oscar winner Jared Leto get some. Harrison Ford helps himself.

    "And then I don't have any money, who has some? Where's Harvey Weinstein?" she says.

    She introduces the new president of the Academy Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who grinds the show to a halt explaining the mission of the Academy.

    Jennifer Lawrence eats pizza.

    Amy Adams and Bill Murray saunter out. "Baby, you look like $146 million domestic," he tells her. "Thanks, the folks over at Sony think so, too."

    They're presenting Best Cinematography. They list the nominees, and Bill interrupts: "Oh, we forgot one. Harold Ramis for Caddyshack, Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day."

    The Oscar goes to Emmanuel Lubezki for "Gravity."

    Anna Kendrick and Gabourey Sidibe present Achievement in Film Editing, which goes to "Gravity."

    Mark Sanger thanks a bunch of people and says there's no greater accolade than to be recognized by people who inspire you. Fellow winner (and the film's director) Alfonso Cuaron gets played off before he can speak, the only time all night that happens.

    Whoopi Goldberg comes out and talks about "The Wizard of Oz," revealing her striped tights and red ruby slippers. To commemorate the anniversary of the movie, Judy Garland's children are there. Ah, this explains Liza Minnelli, joined with her siblings Lorna and Joey Luft.

    Whoopi introduces Pink, singing a long version of "Over the Rainbow" in front of a montage from the movie.

    Ellen comes back after another costume change: a Glinda the Good Witch dress and wand.

    Jennifer Garner and Benedict Cumberbatch present Achievement in Production Design to "The Great Gatsby."

    Clearly, someone got tired of writing intros at this point, the announcer welcomes "the talented Chris Evans." He introduces "our most popular heroes."

    Clips from The Hobbit, Star Trek, Jaws, Iron Man, The Hunger Games, Spider Man, Harry Potter, The Karate Kid (new and old versions), The Avengers, Ghostbusters, Robin Hood, Indiana Jones, Alien, Back to the Future, Terminator, Avatar, Footloose, Top Gun, etc.

    Glenn Close is out next for the In Memoriam segment. "We love you, we honor you, we miss you, but most of all, we thank you."

    James Gandolfini, Karen Black, Hal Needham, Eileen Brennan, Paul Walker, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and many, many more.

    Bette Midler wraps it up with "Did You Ever Know that You're My Hero."

    Ellen is back out and announces they got an email that they just broke Twitter and set the record for most retweets ever, so they're really all winners. (It's true, they did, with over one million before the show was even over.)

    Goldie Hawn is out next to introduce Best Picture nominees "Philomena," "Captain Phillips," and "12 Years a Slave."

    Clips roll.

    And then, John Travolta to introduce "Let It Go" as sung by Idina Menzel (although it comes out as something entirely different the way Travolta butchers it, Adele Nazeem?).

    Ellen pronounces it several times after her performance and then introduces the band playing from another building.

    Jamie Foxx and Jessica Biel are up to present Best Original Score. Jamie lays a back track of the theme from "Chariots of Fire" as Jessica reads her intro, which he really should have been doing for every flat introduction.

    Award for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score goes to Steven Price for 'Gravity'.

    Next, Best Original Song goes to "Let it Go" from "Frozen." The announcer informs us that one of the writers, Robert Lopez, has also won an Emmy, Grammy and Tony, "which is known as an EGOT" (at least according to "30 Rock").

    "Thank you to the Academy. And to our fellow nominees: You are all rock stars - literally."

    The husband and wife winners wrote a speech that, appropriately enough, rhymes. And to John Lasseter: "Happy Oscars to you/Let's Do 'Frozen 2.'"

    "To our girls, Katie and Annie, this song is inspired by our love for you and the hope that you never let fear or shame keep you from celebrating the unique people that you are."

    Back from the commercial, Ellen passes a hat to collect for the pizza, starting with $200 from Harvey Weinstein.

    Robert De Niro and Penelope Cruz are up next for the writing categories. Best Adapted Screenplay goes to John Ridley for "12 Years A Slave."

    He mentions he started in sitcoms and a woman he worked with would review everything he wrote and put a smiling face at the end when it was ready. He thanks the crew and cast.

    Original Screenplay goes to Spike Jonze for "Her," who gets a standing ovation. He thanks his team, saying they're on stage with him.

    (And at this time is where the show was supposed to end. We're going way long, folks.)

    Angelina Jolie is out next to celebrate the historic 50th anniversary of Sidney Poitier's win for best actor, with him. They introduce the nominees for best director.

    The Oscar goes to Alfonso Cuaron for "Gravity." (Angelina graciously and gracefully steps in when Mr. Poitier opens the envelope, sees the foreign name and pauses, asking him: "Do I get this one?")

    Cuaron talks about "Gravity" being a transformative experience, for many people the transformation was wisdom, for him it was the color of his hair. He singles out Sandra Bullock as the heart of the film calling her a wonderful collaborator. He thanks "the wise guys at Warner Brothers [correcting himself quickly] the wise people."

    He thanks his wife and dedicates his award to her.

    Daniel Day-Lewis, last year's Best Actor, is out for Best Actress. The Oscar goes to Cate Blanchett, who gets a standing ovation.

    "Sit down, you're too old to be standing... Thank you to the Academy, as random and subjective as this is, it means a great deal....Amy Adams, everything you do with your performance in 'American Hustle' blew my mind. Meryl, what can I say? Sandra, I can watch that performance til the end of time, and I sort of felt like I had. Julia (hashtag) suck it! And Judi Dench, she's not here tonight because her film was so successful that at the age of 79 she's in India doing a sequel. What a career!"

    She thanks Woody Allen for the role.

    "Perhaps those of us in the industry who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films with women at the center are niche experiences, they are not. Audiences want to see them and, in fact, they earn money. The world is round people," she says.

    She thanks everyone she can think of by name and the people of the Sydney Theater Company. The music lets her finish.

    Jennifer Lawrence is out next. "Why are you laughing? Is this funny?" she says to someone in the audience before going into the rote introduction of Best Actor nominees.

    The Oscar goes to Matthew McConaughey. He gets a standing ovation. He thanks the director and costars. He gives credit to God and acknowledges his father, saying he's probably sitting next to a big pot of gumbo and lemon meringue pie and dancing in his underwear. He acknowledges his mom for teaching him to respect himself.

    "Whatever it is we look up to, whatever we look forward to and whatever it is we're chasing, to that I say 'Amen.' To that I say 'Alright, alright, alright.' To that I say: Just keep livin'."

    Ellen comes out, promising not to make us wait any longer. Then tries to make the joke work by making us wait. We continue waiting.

    Finally, Will Smith is out to present Best Picture. He charges ahead with the saccharine introduction then it's time:

    The Oscar for Best Picture goes to... "12 Years A Slave."

    Producer Brad Pitt speaks first, introducing Director Steve McQueen. McQueen brought a speech. He reads a bunch of names, apologizing as he drones and loses the ability to enunciate.

    He thanks his mother seated in what appears to be the last row of the theater.

    "Everyone deserves not just to survive, but to live," he says, dedicating the award to everyone who endured slavery and those who do today.

    Then, so as not to end on that dark note, he jumps up and down like a little kid.

    So ends the 86th Annual Academy Awards.

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