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Oscars 2015 Roundup
February 25, 2015
It was only a matter of time before Neil Patrick Harris, star of How I Met Your Mother and multiple host of the Emmys and the Tonys, finally hosted the Oscars. But who’d have thought he would be this lacklustre? When he’s working with good material, he’s fantastic (the Birdman–Whiplash gag was a highlight). Unfortunately, many of the jokes were pretty poor.
Six minutes in and the show was off to a bad start. The Broadway-style opening number was a classic example of the Academy’s cringe-inducing self-congratulation, saved only by the presence of Jack Black, who stole it right from under Harris’ nose – and received louder applause.
The performances of the Best Song nominees began with a frankly awesome rendition of “Everything is Awesome” from The LEGO Movie and ended with a stirring performance of “Glory” from Selma. (One can’t help but wonder how the sweet weirdness of “I Love You All” from Frank would have looked amidst all the glamour.) When Selma won, John Legend and Common gave inevitably political but heartfelt speeches which honoured all those who face discrimination.
Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs (who should not speak in public as anyone who saw the nominations announcement will know) turned up to talk about freedom of expression, which seemed to be the overarching theme of the night. It’s an important topic, and was raised in reference to the Charlie Hebdo massacre and Citizenfour, the Edward Snowden documentary which also went home with a trophy.
Elsewhere, there were more individual expressions of feeling. Graham Moore, for example, winner of Best Adapted Screenplay for The Imitation Game, bravely admitted he attempted to commit suicide when he was 16, before reassuring everyone struggling to find their identity that “you do [belong], I promise you do … Stay weird, stay different.” Make no mistake, Moore should not have won for his clunky script, but his acceptance speech was arguably the best of the night.
In an evening unusually full of politics (Best Supporting Actress Patricia Arquette spoke about equal pay, while Best Director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu talked of Mexican democracy and immigration) it was touching that Moore chose to divulge such a personal experience. Ironically, his speech felt more authentic and honest than The Imitation Game itself.
The In Memoriam section is always a moving part of the ceremony, and this year was no exception; in 2014, we lost the likes of Robin Williams, Alain Resnais and Mike Nichols. But I, personally, would like to mention Malik Bendjelloul, who won an Oscar in 2013 for his beautiful, life-affirming documentary Searching for Sugar Man.
Of course, the big winner of the night was Birdman, with four Oscars in total (tying with The Grand Budapest Hotel). This was slightly embarrassing for me, since I predicted that Boyhood would take the top prizes. I had reservations about both films, and arguably enjoyed Birdman more, but seeing Iñárritu and the cast up on stage seemed wrong. In terms of production, Boyhood is monumental, and an Oscar would have been a wonderful way to round off 12 years of hard work. It feels more important than Birdman, both in terms of cinematic achievement and independent filmmaking.
But then, I really should have seen it coming, just like there were no surprises in any of the acting categories. Birdman was highly rewarded by the Directors and Producers Guilds of America (both largely consisting of Academy voters) and the Academy rarely appreciate subtlety and restraint. Perhaps most importantly, Birdman is about things the Academy knows and loves: show business and – crucially – actors. Never has Ricky Gervais’ sarcastic quip, “They’re the most important ones”, seemed more relevant.
Prediction: Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Winner: Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman
Best Actor in a Leading Role
Prediction: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
Winner: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
Best Actress in a Leading Role
Prediction: Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Winner: Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Prediction: JK Simmons, Whiplash
Winner: JK Simmons, Whiplash
Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Prediction: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Winner: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Best Original Screenplay
Prediction: Alejandro G. Iñárritu et al., Birdman
Winner: Alejandro G. Iñárritu et al., Birdman
Best Adapted Screenplay
Prediction: Damien Chazelle, Whiplash
Winner: Graham Moore, The Imitation Game