Monday, February 23, 2015

Birdman Tops Academy Awards

"Stay weird. Stay different." That's from Graham Moore's speech last night as he accepted the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Imitation Game. It's also a very apt way of not only describing this year's Oscars ceremony or the films that were honored, but of the entire awards season as well. But first the full list of winners:

Best Picture: Birdman
Best Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman
Best Lead Actor: Eddie Redmayne, Theory of Everything
Best Lead Actress: Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Best Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Best Animated Film: Big Hero 6
Best Original Screenplay: Birdman
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Imitation Game
Best Foreign Language Film: Ida
Best Documentary: Citizenfour
Best Original Score: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Original Song: "Glory," Selma
Best Editing: Whiplash
Best Production Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Cinematography: Birdman
Best Costume Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Makeup and Hair: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Sound Editing: American Sniper
Best Sound Mixing:
Best Visual Effects: Interstellar
Best Live Action Short: The Phone Call
Best Animated Short: Feast
Best Documentary Short: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1

4 - Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel
3 - Whiplash
1 - Boyhood, The Theory of Everything, The Imitation Game, Still Alice, Selma, Ida, Big Hero 6, Citizenfour, American Sniper, Interstellar, The Phone Call, Feast, Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1

Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel walked home with the most hardware with 4 each with Birdman taking the top two prizes of Picture and Director while Grand Budapest's haul consisted of technical awards most notably for Production Design, a first for a Wes Anderson film. Whiplash was the only other film to win more than one award with 3 wins including Supporting Actor for J.K. Simmons. Early frontrunner Boyhood only went home with one award for Patricia Arquette's Supporting Actress role, but it wasn't alone as 13 films received only one win including all of the other Best Picture nominees. In fact, this is the first time since the category expanded to more than five nominees that this has happened. Other Best Picture films' wins include Theory of Everything's Eddie Redmayne for Actor, the aforementioned Imitation Game for Adapted Screenplay, Selma's song "Glory" for Best Song, and American Sniper for Sound Editing. So literally, everyone got a trophy. The biggest surprise there is probably Redmayne's win over Michael Keaton since Keaton's film was the star of the night. Another notable wins include Julianne Moore finally winning her long-awaited first Oscar for Actress and Big Hero 6 upset win in Animated Feature. For my part, I got 18/24 in my predictions which was fine, I guess.

The show opened up with a wonderful ode to Moving Pictures from singing-dancing host Neil Patrick Harris accompanied by Anna Kendrick and Jack Black. It started the night off on a high note, but things quickly came back down to earth as the first few speeches were hilariously/tragically drowned out by an overzealous orchestra and them Harris stumbling often coming off as snappy instead of charming. I personally thought he did a solid B, but some of his jokes did fall flat and his whole locked box trick could've been executed far better. He did take off his clothes for the middle part of the ceremony, for which we were all grateful. And while the show went long, there were plenty to like. I personally enjoyed most of the Best Song performances especially the wacky and energetic "Everything is Awesome" and the powerful and emotional "Glory." Lady Gaga's pitch perfect Sound of Music medley was fantastic albeit coming in way too late in the ceremony and Meryl Streep's speech prior to the In Memoriam segment was elegant and touching.

What made this year's Oscars memorable though were the many, many wonderful speeches that the winners gave when accepting their trophies from Simmons' personal plea for everyone to call their moms to Alejandro G. Iñárritu's call for immigration reform. Common and John Legend talked about incarceration rates while Arquette spoke about women and wage inequalities (prompting Streep and Jennifer Lopez to leap out of their seats with agreement, the most gif-worthy moment of the night). Others tried to raise awareness for important issues, personal or film-related, like teen suicide, Alzheimer's care voting rights, veteran's care, privacy, and ALS funding. The award ceremony wasn't perfect, but is it ever? Let's do this again next year, folks!

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