From the moment Lupita Nyong’o announced J.K. Simmons as the winner of the first award of the night, the standard had been set. It would be a night of few, if any, surprises, and one where all the favorites in the acting categories brought home the Oscars. Everything went, as they say, according to the script.
Although both Michael Keaton, Benedict Cumberbatch and Steve Carrell (I’ve yet to see ‘American Sniper’) all gave brilliant performances, the Academy would have a hard time justifying not giving the award to Eddie Redmayne. His portrait of Stephen Hawking in ‘The Theory of Everything’ was breathtaking. In addition to the obvious challenges the role offered, Redmayne added both a humor and charm to the role that greatly enriched both the character itself and the movie as a whole. It will be interesting to see which roles are next for the 33 year-old.
Patricia Arquette, whom I wrote about a while back, won her first Oscar for her brilliant performance in ‘Boyhood’. Although the movie might not be for everyone (though I certainly enjoyed it), it’s hard to argue against the decision to hand her the award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. Emma Stone seemed to me to be her main competitor after a great performance in ‘Birdman’, whereas Meryl Streep’s reaction during Patricia Arquette’s speech spoke volumes about the heart of one of the great actresses of our time. Meryl Streep not winning also made me think of Steve Martin’s quote from when he hosted the show a few years back:
Meryl Streep holds the record for most nominations as an actress. Or, as I like to think of it, most losses.
Julianne Moore finally received an Oscar, for her lead role in ‘Still Alice’, whereas ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ deservedly brought home awards for Costume Design, Makeup and Hairstyling and Production Design. It also won for Best Original Score.
Other things of notice were Steve Carrell’s lovely response to the question of “which celebrity are you most looking forward to seeing tonight?” and the surprisingly normal looking Lady Gaga performing a Sound of Music medley that garnered a standing ovation and a hug from Julie Andrews herself. Although Neil Patrick Harris’ underwear parody of ‘Birdman’ was a winner, he did struggle a bit at times, mirroring his lackluster performance in ‘Gone Girl’, where he seemed hugely miscast.
‘Birdman’ was the big winner of the night, racking up 4 statuettes in the big categories, namely Best Film, Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Original Screenplay. Alejandro González Iñárritu, who both wrote and directed the movie had the pleasure of being called to the stage 3 times, whereas the film’s cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki won for the second year in a row, having won last year for ‘Gravity’.
Graham Moore won Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay for ‘The Imitation Game’, promoting the night’s most personal speech; sharing with everyone how he tried to commit suicide aged 16, he urged everyone to “stay weird and stay different”. John Legend and Common brought home the award for Best Original Song, and brought down the house with their wonderful performance of the song “Glory” from ‘Selma’.
All in all, no big surprises, but then again… there’s no need for a surprise just for the sake of the surprise itself. This year’s Oscars brought us many deserved winners, emotional speeches and the occasional awkward moments. Yup, you did it again Mr. Travolta…