It’s All Over But The Hangovers–A Look at Oscar’s Hits and Misses

All pizza party stunts and star-studded selfies aside, the 86th Annual Academy Awards will go down in the record books as the first time that a black director helmed the winner of the year’s best picture. And literally jumped for joy.

“12 Years a Slave” was certainly not a lock to win, as host Ellen DeGeneres noted succinctly at the very top of the telecast, but vaulted over the popular blockbuster “Gravity” with a savvy last-minute campaign with the admonition “it’s time.” (Post-Oscars, for the full-page ads, it’s now become “…for all time.”)

That could be interpreted several ways – that it was time to actually watch the film, which many Academy members had put off doing for fear that it would be too upsetting, or that it was time to recognize a film that brought to life the darkest chapter in American history.

Although there have been many other acclaimed films about slavery, the last being Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained,” “12 Years” was unique in that it was based upon a book written by a free Northerner who was kidnapped and enslaved in the South. Solomon Northup’s book had long since fallen into obscurity before it was apparently rediscovered by British director Steve McQueen’s wife. Now, the book is guaranteed bestseller status.

But back to the show, which featured a number of uplifting moments that almost erased the rancid memories of last year’s Seth McFarlane-sanctioned “We Saw Your Boobs.”

Here are some of our favorites:

  • Lupita Nyong’o, crowned, as expected, with the best supporting actress award, gave a moving speech in which she acknowledged that portraying another person’s deep pain became the source of great joy for her. “No matter where you’re from,” the Kenyan-born Nyong’o said, “your dreams are valid.”
  • Jared Leto, as well the anticipated winner of best supporting actor, also continued on the high road he’s taken during the entire season with a heartfelt and dignified acknowledgment of his mother, coupled with a shout-out to the people of Venezuela and Ukraine and also recognizing millions of those who have suffered and died from HIV/AIDS.
  • U2’s toned-down, acoustic performance of “Ordinary Love,’ which was our favorite to win over the original song from “Frozen.” But poor Idina Menzel, with her name butchered by John Travolta. It isn’t that hard.
  • A resplendent Cate Blanchett, who achieved the perfect note in thanking the controversy-plagued Woody Allen for casting her in “Blue Jasmine” while making the point that films about women are not niche, but mainstream – and most importantly to Hollywood, make money.
  • Outside of the original song categories, the performances by Bette Midler and Pink– although we do wish it would have been Liza Minnelli performing “Over the Rainbow,’ she must’ve turned down the opportunity that was part of the “Wizard of Oz” tribute.
  • Alfonso Cuarón, charming with both of his acceptance speeches for best editing of “Gravity” and best director, becoming the first Latino to achieve that honor. Because he himself makes fun of how he speaks English. we can say that we kept hearing his version of “wise guys,” referencing the people he worked with at Warner Bros. as “white guys.” Then we heard him change it to, um, “white people.” Even more endearingly, we heard secondhand that he left his Oscars in the car for one of the after parties and was asked to pose with someone else’s– and hesitated because he thought it was unethical because it didn’t belong to him. Team Alfonso!
  • “20 Feet From Stardom’s” win as best documentary–and not only because we personally know some of the key players. Darlene Love, one of the back-up singers chronicled in the film whose career has re-surged because if it,  firmly took center stage when she began to sing “His Eye On The Sparrow” mid-speech.

Not so favorite moments:

  • The aforementioned Travolta botching of the not-that-hard name to pronounce, Idina Menzel.
  • The “In Memoriam” section for which we thought Midler should have sang over, instead of after, but more importantly for the omission of names including Jonathan Winters, Dennis Farina and Ed Lauter, to name a few. We had a feeling that the list would culminate with Philip Seymour Hoffman. It was almost a cliché and for those especially affected by the way that he died, left a bittersweet taste.
  • Matthew McConaughey’s acceptance speech, true to his past form in accepting a slew of awards, was rambling – and repetitive. We didn’t quite get the concept of continually being your own hero, but as yourself 10 years into the future. Perhaps for him, that’s aspirational, or inspirational. But compared to the other truly inspirational speeches given by fellow actors it fell short – unless you count the all right, all right, all right part.

–Hillary Atkin

 

 

 

Like a Candle in the Wind: Sir Elton’s Fabulous Oscar Party

The Elton John AIDS Foundation Oscar party is always a fabulous affair but this year’s edition, the 22nd annual, was truly spectacular. It raised more than $5 million for AIDS research.

One particularly magic moment came about an hour after the viewing party ended, when Sir Elton took the stage with the night’s special performer, Ed Shearan, for a duet of Elton’s classic song, “Candle in the Wind.”

“Ed did a wonderful version of this song so we’re going to duet for the first time since the Grammys,” Elton said, referring to the 2013 Grammys, before they launched into the performance, which awed the capacity crowd. After an ovation, Sheeran continued a lengthy set that kept the audience on its feet for the duration.

The gala, which for the second year was set up in a tent at West Hollywood Park across from the Pacific Design Center was cosponsored by Chopard, Neuro Drinks and Wells Fargo.

One skilled Oscar prognosticator who got the most answers right on the Oscar ballot handed out to all the banquet guests was awarded a $30,000 Chopard watch– and given a big hug and a kiss by Elton himself.

It was an affair filled with stars from the worlds of music, screen and stage. Spotted on the white carpet and in the crowd were Alex Pettyfer, Ann & Nancy Wilson, Anna Paquin & Stephen Moyer, Bernie Taupin, Britney Spears, Carmen Electra, Chace Crawford, Cheryl Burke, Cheyenne Jackson, Chris Colfer, Christina Hendricks, David Burtka & Neil Patrick Harris, Donatella Versace, Dwight Yoakam, Ellen Pompeo, Eric McCormack, Gordon Ramsay, Heidi Klum, Jane Fonda, Jane Seymour, Joe Jonas, John Waters, Johnny Weir, Jonathan Groff, Josh Groban, Karina Smirnoff, Karolina Kurkova, Kellan Lutz, Kelly Osbourne, Kelly Rowland, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, Khloé Kardashian, Kim Kardashian, Kourtney Kardashian, Kris Jenner, Kristin Cavallari, Lady Gaga, Lance Bass,  Mel B, Nikki Reed, Ozzy & Sharon Osbourne, Paz Vega, Paulina Rubio, Petra Nemcova, Quincy Jones, Robert De Niro & Grace Hightower, Sam Trammell, Sheryl Crow, Steven Tyler, Tara Lipinski, Taylor Swift, Tim & Jane Allen, Tommy & Dee Hilfiger, Tony Goldwyn, Vanessa Hudgens and Whoopi Goldberg,

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay prepared the exquisite five course meal that was served while chef Wayne Elias created the passed hors d’oeuvres and late-night comfort food served at the afterparty, which raged– as usual – late into the night. The bar was drank dry of Veuve Clicquot, but there was more than enough Patron to go around, and the coffee flavored version of the premier tequila was a major hit.

The auction is always a big part of the event and this year the sought-after items included tickets to the Broadway performance of “Hedwig and the Angry Itch,” with a backstage tour and drinks with the show’s star Neil Patrick Harris, a 1974 print of Elton John and John Lennon and signed by the photographer Bob Gruen, a portrait sitting with renowned photographer Catherine Opie, five days at Steven Tyler’s Hawaiian retreat and tickets to the 2014 Vanity Fair Oscar Party. The piece de resistance: a piano signed by Elton John and Bernie Taupin.

New this year was an audience participation feature that enabled guests to make donations to the Foundation through their cell phones. Throughout the evening ,video messages from long-time EJAF supporters Ellen DeGeneres and Anderson Cooper, as well as live messages from EJAF friends Heidi Klum and Eric McCormack encouraged people to text in pledges in support of the Foundation’s urgent mission.

Even though it’s considered one of the year’s most fun and exclusive parties, the serious message of fundraising was underscored by Sir Elton.

“This is the kind of generosity that will help us change the course of this epidemic,” he said. “We begin to end AIDS when we get homeless teens off the streets and into shelters and job training and healthcare.  We begin to end AIDS when we offer addicts a clean needle and a helping hand into drug rehabilitation.  We begin to end AIDS when we help HIV-positive ex-prisoners find housing and jobs and a way to stay on their medications.  We begin to end AIDS when we make sure EVERY person living with HIV has a ride to the doctor and access to healthcare and treatment.”

–Hillary Atkin

 

 

 

Oscar Countdown: Best Actor, McCon vs. Conman

Could this year have been any better for Matthew McConaughey? His on screen transformation from stoner dude and rom-com hottie dude to serious actor became a fait accompli with his role in “Dallas Buyers Club.”

Just yesterday, McConaughey racked up yet another trophy for his gritty portrayal of Ron Woodruff at the Independent Spirit awards – adding to his treasure chest from the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild, the Critics Choice Awards and other honors that add up to a long list that is almost unprecedented in its unanimity of honoring a singular performance.

So if McConaughey does not win the Oscar– and by the way, it is his first nomination – it will be huge upset.

In the unlikely event of that scenario, who would be next in line for the 8 1/2 pound gold man but Leonardo DiCaprio, who had two showy roles this past year but was lauded much more for his vivid portrayal of Jordan Belfort in Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” than for his role in “The Great Gatsby.”

Oscar historians and fans alike still find it hard to believe that it was only with 2006’s “The Departed,” in which DiCaprio also starred, that Scorsese won his first Academy Award as a director, although he had numerous nominations. It’s the same story with Leo – many nominations, but not a win.

No matter what happens, it all kind of comes together filmically in the scene that DiCaprio shares with McConaughey in “Wolf,” at an alcohol and cocaine fueled lunch with a lot of chest thumping.

TAR’s Take: It’ll be alright, alright, alright for McConaughey tonight.

–Hillary Atkin

 

 

Oscar Countdown: Best Actress is Cate’s to Lose (Not Gonna Happen)

It’s hard to remember a year when the winner of the best actress category felt so pre-ordained. But then Woody Allen’s stepdaughter stepped up with renewed allegations of child molestation against the noted director. Whether this influenced Oscar voters one way or another regarding Cate Blanchett’s riveting turn in “Blue Jasmine, we will find out Sunday night.

The actress herself made one brief comment about the controversy, in Woody’s support naturally, and then went on record saying she wouldn’t discuss it further. Nor should she – it has nothing to do with her performance, which is widely guarded as one of the best of her stellar career.

The rest of the field is a who’s who of Hollywood leading ladies and amongst them is Oscar record-holder Meryl Streep, up for “August: Osage County,” which is not considered one of her finer roles. Streep’s Oscar history goes back to 1979 for “The Deer Hunter.” The following year, Streep took home the first of her three Academy Awards, for “Kramer vs. Kramer.” Her other statuettes are for “Sophie’s Choice” and “The Iron Lady.”

Judi Dench is another powerful force with a resonant depiction of the real-life Philomena Lee, who was forced by the Catholic Church to give up her out of wedlock toddler. Her search for the boy decades later – with the journalist fascinated by her story – is the staff of heartbreak, inspiration artbreak and internal fortitude. It hasn’t hurt that the real Philomena has been out on the campaign trail bestowing her blessings upon the film and the woman who plays her.

And then there is the beautiful and talented Sandra Bullock, whose career path reached the stratosphere when she won the Oscar for “The Blind Side.” Think back, and you’ll remember she publicly thanked the husband who later dumped her for another woman. Bullock had always been considered America’s sweetheart but the public humiliation and later adoption of a little boy made her even more relatable as an Everywoman. As an astronaut fighting for survival, “Gravity” underscores her resilience.

Amy Adams– and her 70s cleavage– have been everywhere promoting “American Hustle,” another David O. Russell film in which heretofore unrevealed elements of her character and talent take center stage. The first time with him was her memorable role

Oscar Countdown: The Trophy for Best Director Goes To…

If you could cast the nominees for best director as character types, Alfonso Cuarón could be the charming foreigner who laughs at his less-than-perfect command of the English language, Steve McQueen would be the erudite Brit who revels in tough subject matter, Alexander Payne would be the indie type whose films have achieved mainstream success, David O. Russell would be the charismatic auteur who is on a huge roll and Martin Scorsese would be, well, the legendary director Martin Scorsese.

The question is whether Oscar voters will follow the lead of the Directors Guild of America– and the Critics’ Choice and Golden Globes– and anoint Cuarón for his “Gravity,” which would certainly be a popular choice. In addition to directing the Sandra Bullock-starrer, Cuarón was the producer, editor and co-writer of the space saga, with his son—and has two other Oscar nods for best picture and editing of the film, making up three of his total six Oscar nominations since 2003.

In three of the past four years, Russell has been Oscar-nominated as best director, for 2011’s “The Fighter” and last year’s “Silver Linings Playbook.” The best tribute to his directing style this year for “American Hustle” may be that all four of his leading and supporting actors are nominated for Oscars—an accomplishment that is now two years running–with Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence repeating that feat from last year’s playbook.

Steve McQueen didn’t hit the campaign trail as hard as Russell, but his work is much admired going back to “Shame” (2011) and “Hunger” (2008). Much like Cooper, Lawrence and Christian Bale are to Russell, Michael Fassbender is McQueen’s muse—and Lupita Nyong’o may be his new one after all the acclaim she’s receiving for “12 Years a Slave.” McQueen reportedly auditioned 1,000 actresses for the role of Patsey before giving the career making gig to her. McQueen would be the first black director ever to win the Academy Award.

Payne is also a critics’ darling, but somehow has never been an Oscar favorite in the directing category, although he has two statuettes, both for writing or cowriting the adapted screenplays for “The Descendants” and “Sideways.” His first Oscar nomination came in 2000, also for writing the indie hit “Election.” Interesting that he did not write “Nebraska,” but that its scribe, Bob Nelson, is up for an Oscar.

Scorsese, hard as though it is to believe, has only won one Oscar, for directing 2006’s “The Departed.” His first directing nod came in 1981 for “Raging Bull.” Yet since “Gangs of New York,” four of his last five films have received Best Picture nominations, including this year’s “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Scorsese doesn’t “need” an Oscar to boost his already legendary status as one of the world’s most respected directors, it’s just hard to fathom why he doesn’t have more on his mantel.

TAR’s Take: If Cuarón doesn’t take the trophy, it will be a huge upset. We are actually rooting for Scorsese, because we got on board the “Wolf” train very early and enjoyed the wild ride with him at the helm.

–Hillary Atkin

 

 

The Suite Part of Oscar Week in LA

Part of the annual rite of awards season is the suites that set up shop at hotels and venues around town before the Academy Awards. For invited guests, they are places to get beauty services like manicures, spray tans and hairstyling. But the biggest attraction is the variety of vendors– from jewelry to clothing, handbags, shoes and cosmetics, artisanal chocolates and fine liquors that take part and gift their products.

The rain may have put a damper on some of the events that set up both outdoors and indoors, but there was still a well-dressed parade of participants that took part.

At the Taglyan Center in Hollywood, Kathy Duliakas hosted her 6th Annual Celebrity Oscar Suite and Party in honor of the Oscars. In addition to nominees, former Oscar winners, presenters, stylists and industry VIPs were invited to the day-long event, held in a beautiful ballroom and co-hosted by Maleku Jewelry and presented by Zensation.

Before entering the ballroom, guests were treated to a catered lunch with a Mediterranean-inspired menu  including avocado salad, classic Greek salad, quinoa salad, chicken breast stuffed with wild rice and feta cheese, grilled prime beef carpaccio, grilled chicken breast with apricot ginger glaze, tuna tartar topped with Brazilian mango and crab cakes drizzled with wasabi cilantro aioli.

The real treats were yet to come: a diverse array of stunning jewelry, fashion, handbags, rejuvenation technology, the finest in skin, body and hair care, LED-lit eyewear, delectable sweets and exotic cocktails.

Among those making the rounds were Oscar nominees Kelsey Scott (12 Years a Slave), Ashley Dyke (12 Years a Slave), Emily Bergl (Blue Jasmine), Dustin Kerns (The Wolf of Wall Street), Craig Borten (Dallas Buyers Club), Crispin Struthers (American Hustle) and Helen Hong (Inside Llewyn Davis).

Getting rave reviews were Single dresses by Galina Sobelev– we found a gorgeous black satin number with lime green accents that was quite the cocktail party hit –BAM Bags, with trendy zipped bags, Herban bath and body products scented with natural ingredients like lemongrass and lavender, colorful patterned flat irons from ISO Beauty– perfect for smoothing out tresses from the humid weather, deliciously scented oils and lotions from Kama Sutra, silk clothing from New Orleans-based Prêt à Porter Designs, haircare from Yuki Sharoni Beauty, tops from Wear Luck, fashion-forward jewelry from Twisted Silver and beautiful designs from Maleku Jewelry.

“It’s incredible going to gifting suites like this because I get turned on to different products that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise,” says actress Tia Carrere. “Prêt à Porter has beautiful stuff, I had never heard of them before. I didn’t know that Skinnygirl made non-alcoholic beverages. I tasted amazing Zing red velvet vodka. This is a great way for celebrities to interface with brands but also for people to discover new brands that they then going forward will purchase, like me.”

A new element was the Live Social Media Lounge which enabled the entire event to be Tweeted, InstaGrammed and Facebooked live with the hashtags #KathySuite and #1MGoodNights, the call to action for event beneficiary Pajama Program (www.pajamaprogram.org) an organization which provides needy children with sleepwear in an ongoing campaign.

At the penthouse of the Luxe Hotel on Rodeo Drive, Roger Neal held a three-day extravaganza, the 18th Annual Style Hollywood Beauty and Couture Academy Award Suite.

The exclusive event benefited the late Paul Walker’s charity, ROWW, which helps provide relief efforts in disaster stricken areas worldwide. Roger Neal Style Hollywood made a donation to the charity every time a male Oscar nominee wore a specially designed Gris Gris Factory bracelet on the Oscar red carpet. Other charity beneficiaries were Beyond Christmas, the Andy Transplant Foundation and Heifer International.

And have you ever seen Sandra Bullock made of chocolate? A replica of the “Gravity” actress made by chocolatier Niagra’s Honeymoon Sweets was on display.

Among the guests were Oscar nominees June Squibb, Bob Nelson, Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee, Robert and Kristen Lopez– who won for their original song from the animated film “Frozen,” Alexandre Desplat, Thomas Newman, Melisa Wallack, Craig Borten, Helen Hong and John Ridley, who won the Academy Award for his adapted screenplay of “12 Years a Slave.”

Guests were treated to libations from the Medea Vodka Oscar Bar and Lorimar Vineyard and Winery as they hobnobbed in the penthouse and checked out vendors including G.M. Collin skincare, Persole umbrellas, Timmy Woods Beverly Hills handbags, Barbara Lazaroff Fire of Life dinnerware and couture gowns by Addy Van Den Krommenacker, Marshmallow Couture Gowns and SISA Designs.

The event also featured spray tanning by Tan This LA, manicures by Shelly Hill and eyelash applications by Daniel Dinh of Long Mi Lashes.

The rainy weather forced a venue change for Debbie Durkin’s Eco Oscars event scheduled poolside at the Beverly Hilton’s Circa 55. The festivities had to move elsewhere on the property, to Bar 210, where all the festivities took place with nary a care about the downpours.

Durkin is LA’s leading sustainable product placement producer. For her 7th annual Oscar event, she partnered with ENCORE I Leslie Kaplan Event Design and eco-conscious lighting designer David Trubridge for this year’s edition.

The two-day event featured an array of brands, from one-of-a-kind jewelry and leather goods to designer gowns and luxury vacations. Guests also enjoyed light fare and signature cocktails, to the beat of DJ Marshall Raymond, the mood also enhanced by beautiful florals from our favorite florist, the Empty Vase.

The guest list included 28 Oscar nominees–12 of whom ended up winning the golden guy, perhaps most notably Robert Lopez, co-writer with his wife Karen of the best original song “Frozen,” and now one of the world’s few EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) winners, a feat achieved in just ten years.

 

Lopez was joined by fellow nominees Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, David Shirk and Neil Corbould (Best Visual Effects-Gravity);  Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead and Chris Munro (Sound Mixing-Gravity);  Robin Matthews (Makeup & Hairstyling-Dallas Buyers Club); Steven Price (Original Score-Gravity); Mark Sanger (Film Editing-Gravity) and Kim Magnusson (Short Film Live Action-Helium).

Also spotted: Penny Marshall, celebrity fitness trainer Grace Lazenby and reality stars Tom Schwartz and Katie Maloney.

 

Vendors taking part included Marisa Kenson Collections with gowns and jewelry for the red carpet, MK Collaborative toxic-free makeup and jewelry, Caribbean Living Magazine, The Hard Rock Hotel, Bula Life, Herbalosophy, Glacier Under Canvas, Canine Caviar, L’Arganium 100% Organic Argan Oil, LA + Jo Parisian Designer Joseph Agi, Will Leather Goods, Ofrenda Maya Tequila, and 7Eye High Performance Sunglasses, (www.panoptx.com) which feature a unique wrap-around design perfect for extreme sports, or just keeping the wind out of delicate peepers.  Some of the glasses include the Airshield foam series, which literally seal the eyes from the elements, the next generation of ski/motorcycle goggles.

 

And who would want tears in their eyes when there’s so much to enjoy during Oscar week, thanks in part to these great hospitality and gifting suites.

Enter Our Oscar Contest and Win Terry’s Toffee Academy Awards Mix

The Atkin Report congratulates Terry’s Toffee, one of Chicago’s finest confectioners, on its 10th year backstage at the Academy Awards, supplying nominees, performers and presenters with a delicious selection of artisanal toffee created from a recipe by Terry’s grandmother.

Enter our contest to win a one-pound box of Terry’s Academy Awards mix featuring four award-winning flavors: McCall’s Classic, Hazelicious, Chai-cago Spice, Lemon Paradise.

Copy and paste your picks for these categories and post on The Atkin Report Facebook page under this entry,  and please “like” the page as well:

Best Picture:

Best Director:

Best Actor:

Best Actress:

Here are the contest rules: one entry per person which must be received by 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET March 2—the start of the Oscar telecast. Winner will be randomly drawn from entries that choose the correct Oscar winners in these categories and must have a mailing address in the continental United States for the prize to be shipped.

Good luck!

Oscar Countdown: Writing the Script for Winning Original and Adapted Screenplays

Although those they honor are considered below the line, make no mistake about it. The Oscars for both adapted and original screenplay are marquee trophies that can fast-track the career course of their recipients into Hollywood’s highest echelons, if they aren’t already there. Just think back to when an impossibly young Matt Damon and Ben Affleck won for ”Good Will Hunting.”

Let’s take a look first at the adapted screenplay nominees:

“Before Midnight” by Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke

“Captain Phillips” by Billy Ray

“Philomena” by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope

“12 Years a Slave” by John Ridley

“The Wolf of Wall Street” by Terence Winter

When the Writers Guild of America handed out its trophy in this category earlier this month, it went to Billy Ray for the real-life story of the captain of the Maersk Alabama hijacked by Somali pirates before being rescued by the US military on the high seas in a saga that captured the world’s attention in 2009.

“I owe quite a debt to Captain Richard Phillips, who survived something I know would’ve killed me,” Ray said in his WGA acceptance speech about the ordeal the hijacked captain endured. “It was Captain Phillips who wrote this movie. I just wrote it down.”

Program note: Tracy Letts’ “August: Osage County” and Peter Berg’s “Lone Survivor” were also WGA-nominees, but didn’t make the Oscar list.

TAR’s Take: “12 Years a Slave” will add another Oscar to its trophy case in this category

For original screenplay, Oscar voters considered the following scripts:

“American Hustle” by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell

“Blue Jasmine” by Woody Allen

“Dallas Buyers Club” by Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack

“Her” by Spike Jonze

“Nebraska” by Bob Nelson

Again, looking to the Writers Guild, we see that the exact same list was in contention and that Jonze took the trophy for his thought-provoking story set slightly into the future of a man who falls in love with his computer’s operating system.

“Her” was still considered an underdog, but the WGA win gave it added momentum– especially since the field is identical, which is a bit unusual.

TAR’s Take: “Blue Jasmine” and “Dallas Buyers Club” will almost certainly receive acting prizes, so this may be a place to reward “Hustle” for its artistry, although “Her” still holds a strong position.

–Hillary Atkin

 

 

Oscar Countdown: Original Song

U2, one of the world’s greatest bands, is rarely if ever on the losing end of any proposition. But even Bono admitted– on the first night of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” that an animated character was likely to take the Oscar in the category of Original Song.

That would be one big golden trophy for the ultra-catchy “Let it Go” from Disney’s “Frozen,” with music and lyrics by Kristin Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez and performed by Idina Menzel.

But don’t count out the power of U2’s anthemic song, “Ordinary Love” from “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” with music by Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen to rouse AMPAS voters more. “Ordinary Love” also brings the imprimatur of its Golden Globe award from last month into the competition.

Whichever tune takes the title, just being nominated is a major coup for Pharrell Williams, up for the song “Happy” from “Despicable Me 2.” It’s the first nomination for the producer/performer and he’s been promoting it like crazy, just recently performing it at the NBA All-Star game and the Brit Awards in London. Meanwhile, the gospel funk number is currently No. 2 on Billboard’s Hot 100 List.

The other candidate is “The Moon Song” from “Her,” with music by Karen O. and lyrics by Ms. O and the film’s director, Spike Jonze.

But wait a second, wasn’t there another nominee? Yes, in one of those rare Oscar campaign scandals, it was kicked to the curb when it was discovered that emails were sent out to the Academy’s music branch asking them to take a listen to “Alone Yet Not Alone,” a song from a little-seen film that somehow beat out music from the likes of Taylor Swift, Celine Dion and Coldplay.

All four of the contenders will be performed live at the Oscars on March 2.

TAR’s Take: We’re going to go with the luck of the Irish and wager that the Academy will resonate more to music that accompanied depiction of the late, great Nelson Mandela.

–Hillary Atkin

Oscar Countdown: The Supporting Actresses

There are just 10 days to go before the Academy Awards are handed out in this awards season bifurcated by the Olympics. We will be taking a look at all the top categories as the last-minute campaigning goes down to the finish line for moviedom’s most coveted honor.

For supporting actress, the contenders’ characters range from a blue-collar single mom to a feisty, bitter older daughter and an elderly yet extremely outspoken wife and mother, not to mention a con artist’s stay-at-home wife and slave who is brutally abused by a plantation owner.

Lupita Nyong’o’s role as Patsey in “12 Years a Slave” has already been recognized with trophies from the Critics’ Choice Awards and the Screen Actors Guild Awards– as well as garnering a slew of other nominations.

Her competition: Sally Hawkins for “Blue Jasmine,” Jennifer Lawrence for “American Hustle,” Julia Roberts for “August: Osage County” and June Squibb for “Nebraska.”

The range of not only the characters but of the actors is remarkable with the youngest, Lawrence, coming off of last year’s win in another David O Russell film, “Silver Linings Playbook.”

Squibb meanwhile, is just now getting major recognition in a career that spans more than five decades, while a mid-career Roberts never struggles to gain attention.

For Hawkins, a Brit who has been recognized for her roles in smaller films over the last few years including “Happy Go Lucky” and “Made in Dagenham,” playing Cate Blanchett’s younger, poorer, less educated San Francisco sister has been a huge career boost.

TAR’s Take: It’s Lupita’s! AMPAS voters will be unlikely to recognize Lawrence two years in a row (last year, she won lead actress) and Nyong’o has comported herself the entire season with dignity and grace befitting her role. As a newcomer, she’s quickly made herself into a style icon on the red carpet, appearing in a stunning array of jewel-toned gowns that have anointed her the belle of the ball.

–Hillary Atkin