Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Whiplash were the big winners at the 87th annual Academy Awards. Collectively, they took home almost half of the 24 awards up for grabs.
Birdman’s Alejandro G. Inarritu ended up personally collecting three of the four gongs his universally praised film won in the three-and-a-half hour ceremony. Besides snapping up the expected Best Director trophy, he shared the Best Original Screenplay award with three other screenwriters as Birdman also went on to unseat early frontrunner Boyhood for Best Picture. The film also won for its cinematography.
Also winning four Oscars was Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel which took golden dust collectors for Best Costume Design, Best Make-Up & Hairstyling, Best Production Design and Best Original Score.
As expected, Farmers Insurance pitchman J.K. Simmons won Best Supporting Actor in the event’s first presentation for his much praised performance in the sleeper film Whiplash which surprisingly won additional honours for Best Sound Mixing and Best Film Editing.
Other surefire winners included Citizenfour which was named Best Documentary Feature, the Polish Holocaust-themed Ida which grabbed the Best Foreign Language Film trinket, writer Graham Moore whose penning of The Imitation Game was named Best Adapted Screenplay, Julianne Moore who, after four previously failed attempts at winning an Academy Award, finally won Best Actress for playing a woman with Alzheimer’s in Still Alice, and John Legend & Common whose original song Glory was Selma’s only triumph. Their live performance was the only one of the nominated songs to receive a standing ovation. The film’s overlooked lead, British actor David Oyelowo who played MLK, was moved to tears.
Despite the number of predictable winners, there were some surprises. Big Hero 6 upset How To Train Your Dragon 2 for Best Animated Feature and a clearly tickled Eddie Redmayne wrestled Best Actor away from Birdman’s Michael Keaton for his portrayal of legendary scientist Stephen Hawking in The Theory Of Everything.
In the end, each of the eight nominated Best Pictures got at least one trophy. Patricia Arquette ended up getting the only one for Richard Linklater’s experimental epic Boyhood. She was named Best Supporting Actress. (The complete list of winners is at the bottom of this piece.)
As for the Oscar telecast itself, a special request to the Academy. Don’t ask Neil Patrick Harris to host again. Most of his one-liners were turkeys, his opening song with an unfunny Jack Black and surprisingly tuneful Anna Kendrick was more hit than miss (the background visuals were cool, though), his interaction with seat fillers was time-filling pointlessness, his specially protected predictions bit was nothing more than a lame way to recap highlights of the show, and his quip after Citizenfour’s triumph was despicable, outrageous and deeply offensive. Edward Snowden isn’t a “traitor”, asshole. The tasteless line took some luster away from Oscar-winner Laura Poitras’ greatest professional moment. Fuck you for saying it. In fact, you should apologize for doing so.
Families became a recurring theme of the acceptance speeches after Whiplash star J.K. Simmons sweetly thanked his wife and “above average” kids. Another welcome thread was politics. Citizenfour director Laura Poitras noted the dangers of mass surveillance while rightly thanking NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and truth tellers just like him for exposing criminal wrongdoing. (What a shame that journalist Glenn Greenwald, who held Poitras’ Oscar while she spoke, didn’t get to layeth the smackethdown on the candy asses of the Obama Administration. Like the live performance of that Lego Movie song, that would’ve been awesome.)
Despite having a cheat sheet, Boyhood’s Patricia Arquette got a rousing response when she ended her speech with a plea for equal pay and rights for women. Charming Imitation Game screenwriter Graham Moore revealed he attempted suicide when he was just a teenager and urged those who feel different to “stay weird”. A deeply poignant moment that was only eclipsed by the powerful comments both Common and John Legend made about mass incarceration and the continuing struggle for black equality.
Despite being a terrible host, Neil Patrick Harris did have some funny moments. His opening line about the Oscars being the “whitest” was welcome as was his failed attempt to get Robert Duvall’s attention. But without question, the funniest part of the program was all the Travolta material. The former Sweathog was a pretty good sport about his famous mistake butchering Frozen singer Idina Mitzel’s name last year. But he got a little too handsy with her face when they presented an award together. (At least he got it right this time.) Thankfully, Harris got an additional laugh out of that. Also amusing was Alejandro Inarritu’s claim during one of his numerous acceptance speeches that he was wearing Michael Keaton’s tighty whities for good luck. During one of his more serious moments, he pleaded for more respect for Mexican-American immigrants and especially for his fellow countrymen back home.
As for my predictions scorecard, I went a disappointing 12 for 24. Had I gone with Big Hero 6 (my initial guess for Best Animated Feature) before ultimately settling on How To Train Your Dragon 2 and Birdman for Best Picture (instead of Boyhood, although I did say Birdman was in the running), had I taken a chance on Eddie Redmayne (who, to be fair, I did say was a potential spoiler) and had I not picked Interstellar for so many technical wins (it only took Best Visual Effects), I would’ve had a better evening.
The complete list of winners:
BEST PICTURE – BIRDMAN
BEST DIRECTOR – Alejandro G. Inarritu (BIRDMAN)
BEST ACTRESS – Julianne Moore (STILL ALICE)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – Patricia Arquette (BOYHOOD)
BEST ACTOR – Eddie Redmayne (THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – J.K. Simmons (WHIPLASH)
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY – Alejandro G. Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris Jr. & Armando Bo (BIRDMAN)
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY – Graham Moore (THE IMITATION GAME)
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE – CITIZENFOUR
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM – IDA
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE – BIG HERO 6
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS – INTERSTELLAR
BEST COSTUME DESIGN – THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY – BIRDMAN
BEST MAKE-UP & HAIRSTYLING – THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
BEST FILM EDITING – WHIPLASH
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE – Alexandre Desplat (THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL)
BEST ORIGINAL SONG – Glory (SELMA)
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN – THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
BEST SOUND MIXING – WHIPLASH
BEST SOUND EDITING – AMERICAN SNIPER
BEST ANIMATED SHORT – FEAST
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT – CRISIS HOTLINE: VETERANS PRESS 1
BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT – THE PHONE CALL
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, February 23, 2015