Birdman wins big, social activism storms the stage, and everybody loves Wes Anderson maybe a little bit more than Neil Patrick Harris.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise this year’s Oscars were just as forgettable as all the other ones. Sure, there were notable moments sporadically dotting the unforgivably long telecast, but they did little to balance out the perpetually underwhelming ceremony where Hollywood cronies get to pat themselves on the back for a job well done.
Neil Patrick Harris hosted this year, only to find himself losing the audience’s support less than halfway through the show. It didn’t help he had almost nothing to work with, aside from the usual cheesy jokes. Take into account his reputation as a quality Broadway performer and host, and seeing him standing mostly in one place was painful on almost a visceral level.
It was drizzling that day in LA, prompting several Brits to joke they had brought the weather with them. That soggy atmosphere crept inside as well, as Jack Black interrupted the opening musical act with a grumpy, quasi-meta reality check about Hollywood’s sad dependence on superhero franchises and reboots, prequels, and sequels.
Spirits stayed relatively muted, as social advocacy became a borderline intrusive theme during the ceremony. Everything from Alzheimer’s to women’s rights was brought up, which mostly felt like inactive activism. One bright note: Best Adapted Screenplay winner Graham Moore (The Imitation Game) revealed to the world he tried to kill himself at age sixteen because he felt weird and different, and pleaded to the teens who currently feel the same way to hold on and stay weird, because they would one day be on the same stage. That was great.
The In Memoriam tribute was visually beautiful, although Joan Rivers was notably absent. Also, Jennifer Hudson’s ensuing performance was bland. It would have been better if Tim McGraw had performed the emotional song “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” in that slot instead.
In terms of the awards, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) and The Grand Budapest Hotel won the most, with both taking home four awards (albeit, Grand Budapest mostly took home technical awards, like Production Design and Costume Design, while Birdman won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Cinematography). Whiplash did well, taking home three trophies, including Best Actor in a Supporting Role and Best Film Editing.
Aside from Graham Moore’s speech, the best speeches were probably Eddie Redmayne for Best Actor in a Leading Role (The Theory of Everything) and Pawel Pawlikowski for Best Foreign Language Film (Ida from Poland) – Redmayne for his hilarious attempt to reign in his shock and Pawlikowski for defiantly (in a good-humored way) refusing to let the orchestra play him off the stage.
Quick notes: Wes Anderson was profusely thanked by all the winners from The Grand Budapest Hotel in their speeches. His quirkiness is lovable. Julianne Moore was literally crying the whole show. I’m surprised she had any tears left when she won Best Actress in a Leading Role (Still Alice). I didn’t notice any massive snubs in the nominations, aside from The LEGO Movie for Best Animated Feature and Interstellar for dang near everything.
In show business, being bad is bad, but being forgettable might be the worst thing that can happen. The 87th Academy Awards weren’t good, but they weren’t a disaster either. It was an oatmeal outing, consisting of the same formulaic nonsense that encapsulates every awards broadcast. Combine that with the insane number of commercial breaks, and I’m not sure there’s a person (or duo) out there who could successfully host such a lethargic four hours. Not even Tina Fey and Amy Poehler!