The 2015 Academy Awards – Another year, another Oscars

Last night saw the 87th Academy Awards take place, hosted by the ever-charming Neil Patrick Harris. Square-eyed-geek stayed up to watch the whole thing. Sleep might have been a better choice though…

Oscars 2015

To be perfectly honest, for me the shine has gone out of the Oscars in recent years. Partly because I live in the UK so I have to stay up mega late to watch it, something that clashed this year with my new found love of going to bed early. Yet mainly it is due to the fact that (as a lot of people have pointed out this year) there isn’t a whole lot of diversity to the thing, something which certain blinding omissions made particularly obvious this time. No nomination for David Oyelowo for his lead role as Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma (2014), or even for the director Ava DuVernay (who if she’d been up for an award would have been the first African-American female director to be nominated). I know that it’s never going to be perfect and people are always going to be disappointed at films they love being left out and films being nominated when they really shouldn’t (like War Horse (2011) being nominated for Best Picture – really Academy?). But still, it feels like the Oscars (as well as a few other award ceremonies) aren’t doing enough to show a broader picture of the filmmaking talent that’s truly out there. Something needs to change, and soon.

Anyway, onto the winners. As everyone expected and had been betting on since the nominations were announced, Julianne Moore won the award for Best Actress, something that has been long overdue for her and which she more than deserved for her emotional performance as a woman with early onset Alzheimer’s in Still Alice (2014). And it wasn’t much of a surprise when Eddie Redmayne won for his portrayal as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything (2014). Again, well-deserved for such a difficult performance, yet I was still hoping that Michael Keaton would take home the award for his perfect, funny yet sensitive turn in Birdman (2014).

Julianne Moore takes home the Oscar for Best Actress for her emotional turn in Still Alice (2014)

It also seemed that the Supporting Actor and Actress categories had been decided for a while. J.K. Simmons won for his terrifying performance in Whiplash (2014), and Patricia Arquette received the award for her heartfelt turn in Boyhood (2014). For me Arquette also won the NIGHT for her brilliant speech, in which she called for equal rights and pay for women (which earned a huge reaction from the crowd, specifically Meryl Streep who practically leapt out of her seat). In fact it was a night of many inspirational speeches all around, specifically from Graham Moore who won Best Adapted Screenplay for The Imitation Game (2014) and who discussed his own suicide attempt when he was a teen. He ended his passionate speech by promising others who might also feel as alienated as he did that they do matter and to “stay weird, stay different”. Amazing man (and I’m actually filling up again thinking about it).

Less certain on the night were the awards for Best Director and Best Picture. Boyhood and Birdman have been competing throughout all the award shows of recent months, with one or the other coming out on top at each event. And while all signs seemed to be pointing to Richard Linklater and Boyhood, in the end it was Alejandro González Iñárritu who took home the Best Director award for Birdman, which also received the Oscar for Best Picture (as well as the award for Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography for Emmanuel Lubezki’s stunning work). I haven’t yet seen Boyhood, so I can’t judge if it was an unfair loss or not. Either way both films were technical marvels for very different reasons and both equally deserving. I was always secretly rooting for Birdman though – a riotous, dramatic and hilarious film with a superb central cast.

Birdman (2014) wins the award for Best Picture, and director Alejandro González Iñárritu also takes home the award for Best Director

Elsewhere, The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) took a fair share of awards home in a variety of categories, including Production Design, Makeup, Costume and Best Original Score for Alexandre Desplat. Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida (2013) won for Best Foreign Language film, ‘Glory’ from Selma won for Best Original song (with an emotional performance of the song from John Legend and Common on the night which reduced a few people in the audience to tears), and Big Hero 6 (2014) won for Best Animation, which is always going to be known as the film that won when The Lego Movie (2014) should have…which it would have done if it had been flipping nominated in the first place.

Overall the night itself was its usual trundling, dragged out affair. Many people bemoaned host Neil Patrick Harris, as well as a lack of jokes. In my opinion though I think he was the funniest and most entertaining host the ceremony has had since Seth MacFarlane (although I’m not too sure what that says about my sense of humour?). And Harris’ brilliant opening number, complete with Anna Kendrick and Jack Black cameos, was one of the more dazzling moments of the show in recent years. Plus Harris used every opportunity he could to poke fun at the Oscars themselves, as well as a few of those glaring omissions. Good for you sir.

Neil Patrick Harris performs with Anna Kendrick during the dazzling opening number

So there we have it: another year of predictable wins, with a couple of surprises, a few tears, a few jokes, and some truly bizarre moments (John Travolta getting all weirdly touchy-feely during a skit with Idina Menzel about Adele Dazeem-gate last year, and a performance of The Lego Movie song ‘Everything Is Awesome’ which was both equal parts horrifying and amazing. Let’s just say that watching that after 2am, I feared someone had slipped something into my drink). It was all fun while it lasted though. But maybe next year I’ll heed my own advice and get an early night’s sleep instead…

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~ by square-eyed-geek on February 23, 2015.

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