The Academy Awards telecast might be best remembered as a collection of moments — Jared Leto's acceptance speech, Lupita Nyong'o's acceptance speech, host Ellen DeGeneres' organizing A-listers for Twitter-crashing selfies. Yet on the red carpet, inside the Dolby Theatre and backstage in the press room Sunday night, there were other special moments as well.
For starters? You could have heard a pin drop in the Dolby when Nyong'o won for supporting actress for her turn in “12 Years a Slave.” The entire VIP enclave went up in screams and applause for the only time during the whole evening. There was a genuine sense of a new talent being anointed. Read on for more.
Selfie with Oscar, anyone?
Shortly after winning an Oscar for his portrayal of a transgender AIDS victim in “Dallas Buyers Club,” Jared Leto addressed reporters backstage, asking whether anyone wanted to try his Oscar “out for size. If you want to take a selfie with it, go for it.”
Leto, 42, was as relaxed and carefree backstage as his much-talked about mane. “I'm going to be celebrating to the break of dawn,” he said, passing off his statuette to the other side of the room. “Trust me.”
No stranger to performing in front of an audience, the 30 Seconds to Mars frontman said it was still a surreal experience to take the stage Sunday. “It was really fun to look down and see Leo and Meryl Streep,” Leto said. “At one point, I found myself talking to [Robert] DeNiro — as if the room wasn't intimidating enough!”
Then a beat.
“Anyone else want to take a fondle?” he asked, ready to pass around his Oscar again.
Getting movie crowd going
On the same day “Frozen” crossed the $1-billion mark at the global box office, the film was crowned best animated feature and won in the original song category for the triumphant, soaring number “Let It Go.”
Before it had claimed either prize, though, Disney/Pixar animation chief John Lasseter took a moment on the red carpet to describe his recent trip to a Sonoma, Calif., movie theater with his wife, Nancy, for a singalong edition of the popular film, with snacks in tow.
“Not only did we sing, but I brought carrots to throw out like it was the ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show,'” he said.
“I had mini-chocolates and a beach ball to throw around, too,” Nancy added.
Moments later, Broadway vet Menzel made her own red carpet confession — she was trembling in her heels. “Once I'm on the stage, it'll all click,” she said. “But ... it's a little overwhelming.”
The singer said she's been starting each day with email about her “Frozen” performance. “I get a lot of videos of little kids singing the song,” she said with a laugh.
Backstage clutching his Oscar, Chris Buck, co-director of “Frozen,” said he had had no inkling the Nordic fairy tale of blizzards, magic and sisterly love would resonate across the world.
Finally in the spotlight
“Twenty Feet From Stardom” follows a group of backup singers who make a living staying out of the spotlight. But after the documentary was named the year's best, director Morgan Neville said he might have to retitle the movie.
“We're gonna have to change the name of the movie to ‘Stardom,'” the filmmaker joked backstage. “It's amazing to make a film about people who have so much talent but have been overlooked … and all of this is the best reward we all could have gotten.”
Neville recalled the film's premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013, when all of the picture's subjects traveled to Park City, Utah, for the movie's unveiling. Initially, he said, they were hesitant to attend a festival they'd never heard of in a snowy mountain town.
“I said, ‘Trust me. It'll be worth it.' ... And it was a night that changed all of our lives.”
Second only to the pope
Philomena Lee, the 80-year-old whose life inspired Stephen Frears' drama “Philomena,” strolled into the Dolby Theatre, propped up by her daughter Jane Libberton. Asked how she was taking in the spectacle, the retired psychiatric nurse was unreserved in her enthusiasm. “It's overwhelming!” Lee said. “After meeting the pope, this is the most amazing thing that's happened.”
Although the film didn't win any prizes, attending the Oscars remained a memorable event for the Brit, who planned to have a gin and tonic after the ceremony.
“Going home is going to be a real anti-climax.”
Chris Lee contributed to this report.