Sunday, August 2, 2015

Oscars make history - but will we remember 'Slave' or selfie?

`12 Years a Slave' won the best picture prize at the 86th Academy Awards, making its producer and director, Steve McQueen, the first black to accept the top Oscar, and Alfonso Cuaron became the first Latino to win the best directing prize. But Ellen DeGeneres' super-selfie made a different kind of history.

Oscars make history – but will we remember 'Slave’ or selfie?

Steve McQueen holds his Best Picture Oscar aloft. Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images
Steve McQueen holds his Best Picture Oscar aloft. Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

The 86th Academy Awards made history Sunday night: Steve McQueen became the first black person to win the best picture prize, accepting the golden statuette as producer of the harrowing true-life story, 12 Years a Slave. McQueen lost the directing Oscar to Alfonso Cuaron, but the Gravity man’s win was historic, too: the Mexican-born Cuaron became the first Latino to win the Academy’s best director prize.

But will we remember any of that when people look back on the ceremonies celebrating 2013’s best? Or will they just talk about how host Ellen DeGeneres "broke” Twitter with her star-studded selfie – Bradley Cooper, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence,  Kevin Spacey, Lupita Nyong’o and her brother mugging with Degeneres as she wielded her Samsung down in the front rows, breaking the record for the most retweets (1.7 million)  in less than an hour? DeGeneres had trouble getting her lines out when she was up on the Dolby Theatre stage presiding over the evening’s long, lumbering show. But the comedian displayed way more skill – and enthusiasm – in her role as social media diva, beaming as she showed off her super-selfies and boasting to a worldwide TV audience that she had brought Twitter crashing down, all thanks to her stiff-arming, smart-phoning, hashtagging prowess.

Talk about swimming in the lake of me. DeGeneres celebrates her Twitter might, while McQueen breaks a Hollywood color barrier – with a film  that powerfully and provocatively explores America’s troubled past and the seeds of racism sown centuries ago. Retweet that, why dontcha?   

Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic
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About this blog

Steven Rea has been an Inquirer movie critic since 1992. He was born in London, raised in New York City, and has lived in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Iowa City, Iowa. His column, "On Movies," appears Sundays in Arts & Entertainment, his reviews appear in the Weekend section on Fridays. He is a member of the National Society of Film Critics.

Read his most recent columns and reviews, here. He is the author of the book “Hollywood Rides a Bike,” and also curates the movie stars and bicycling photo blog, Rides A Bike.

Reach Steven at

Steven Rea Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic
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