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Oscars: best picture and final notes

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 3, 2014

As you know by now, "12 Years a Slave" won best picture, and that was what I was rooting for. (I would have posted sooner but had to do some video for WEWS, which you can see on the early news in a few hours.)

I had also put in my pitch for Blanchett, Nyong'o and Leto, so I can't complain there. I had McConaughey winning best actor, but was wishing for a tie with Chiewetel Ejiofor, which did not happen. And I would have given Steve McQueen best director, although I completely understand that, when it comes to technical achievement, Alfonso Cuaron was going to be the favorite (and "Gravity" racked up a ton of technical awards to underscore that). But I have had years when I was much grumpier than this one.

About the awards, I mean. As for the show, Ellen DeGeneres was an uneven host, and pushed the pizza bit way too hard. While she showed some bite occasionally (including in a white-Hollywood joke at the end of her monologue), other sections were bland.

At 3 1/2 hours, the telecast was still too long, and you could see on Twitter people's complaints about the montages, and the way "heroes" was defined as meaning far more men than women. I love a lot of the movies in those montages, but in a show that always needs tightening, they could have dispensed with one of them, at least.

Harrison Ford, wheezy grouch. John Travolta, mushmouth. Kim Novak, sad. (She's known for staying away from such things, so I don't really fault herfor  problems. And McConaughey was quite the gentleman with her.)

Thumbs up to acceptance speeches by all four acting winners, but Blanchett, all fire about her co-stars and movies about women, and not shying away from Woody Allen, was probably the best

Applause to Jim Carrey, whose humor was laced with clear anger. To Bill Murray, for acknowledging Harold Ramis. Bette Midler, who still knows how to sell "Wind Beneath My Wings." (Go on, you song haters. I love every sentimental bar of it.) DARLENE LOVE. Would that U2 had asked her to sing their song.

More negatives: anything and everything in the red carpet shows I watched on E! and ABC, with the exception of some stars. But the occasion turns every "interviewer" and "host" into a fawning oaf.

And I am off to bed.

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