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An Anton Ali Pop-Ed: My Academy Awards Highlights

The airing of the Academy Awards this past Sunday was a little bit of a farewell to the movies we loved over the course of the last year. There weren't a great deal of surprises in terms of the awards that were given out, but this year's telecast was still interesting to watch.

This was Ellen DeGeneres's second time hosting, and it was far better than the first one. The producers of the event have tried over the years to rejuvenate viewership by bringing on younger hosts. In 2011, they brought on James Franco and Anne Hathaway. It didn't work. Hathaway did all the work and Franco appeared to be high most of the time. Trying to make a quick recovery, they brought back Billy Crystal the next year. He's hosted nine times, so I'm sure his latest hosting gig was almost second nature to him. His relevance today, however, is questionable. Crystal is somewhat synonymous with the Oscars, but he hasn't really done much else lately.

Taking another chance on Ellen from when she hosted in 2007 seemed to pay off. For a show that always seems to drag on past 11 p.m., she was able to keep the show funny most of the time. Ordering pizza during the show? Claiming the most retweeted picture in the history of Twitter? It was good to hear people talk about other things instead of how boring the show was. Anyway, along with the positive review for Ellen's second time hosting the Oscars, here's what I thought was most interesting about this past year's talent pool in general:

Jonah Hill now sits behind Leonardo DiCaprio at the Oscars. I've said this before in one of my previous Pop-Eds, but Hill has certainly come a long way from trying to clean his blood soaked pants in Superbad. I still don't know how he did it. With that said, his performance in The Wolf of Wall Street was impressive and deserving of a nomination. Let's hope he doesn't win one before ...

... Leonardo DiCaprio, who walked away empty handed once again. Here's a guy that's managed to get nominated five times, but hasn't won once. I thought DiCaprio was overrated for quite some time, but then I saw Blood Diamond and The Departed. Both performances swayed my opinion of him as an actor.

Barkhad Abdi got nominated for the first time he's ever acted in anything. He attended an open casting call for a Somalian pirate and ended up stealing Tom Hanks' spotlight (and boat). For someone who literally lists this movie as his only acting performance on IMDb, it's a pretty amazing feat to have this kind of recognition right off the bat. It begs the question as to whether or not this will be the last we see of him for a while, but I'm sure he'll have at least one more chance to show the world this nomination of his wasn't a fluke. What's even more interesting is that Abdi was only paid $65K for starring in Captain Phillips. After he shot the movie, he went to work at his relative's cellphone store. He doesn't appear to have a permanent residence and all of the clothes he wore during awards season was borrowed. Time will tell as to whether Abdi can make this a long-term career. But, hey, Jonah Hill did it, right?

Jared Leto wins Best Supporting Actor for Dallas Buyer's Club. Leto didn't really seem to care about acting for a long time. His focus was really steered towards Thirty Seconds to Mars, his band that he started with his brother, Shannon. I was more a fan of his band than I ever was of him as an actor. The performance that sticks out in my mind prior to Dallas Buyer's Club was Requiem of a Dream, where he played a heroin addict. His physical transformation in Dallas Buyer's Club was deserving of a win and it actually appeared to be the biggest locks for a win going in to Oscar night. What will happen to Thirty Seconds to Mars now that he has an Oscar under his belt?

And so the awards season comes to a close. With last year's movies behind us, we have some major summer tentpole movies to look forward to. As always, we'll be paying close attention to some early Oscar contenders that will be intermingled with these big box office draws.
An Anton Ali Pop-Ed: My Academy Awards Highlights Reviewed by Anton Ali on 3/05/2014 Rating: 5

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