And The Winners Are:
- Best Picture – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – a real surprise to me; I thought Boyhood was the one here, but it was neck and neck.
- Best Actress – Julianne Moore, Still Alice - an excellent film, and a much deserved win, though Marion Cotillard was superb in Two Days, One Night
- Best Actor – Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything - this was a real upset – everyone thought Michael Keaton had this one in the bag.
- Directing – Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) - if you think the film was good, then Iñárritu wins.
- Best Supporting Actress – Patricia Arquette, Boyhood – her win was no surprise; but the film was completely shut out in every other category.
- Best Supporting Actor – J.K. Simmons, Whiplash – absolutely deserved for his performance here, and a lifetime of work.
- Animated Feature Film - Big Hero 6 – honestly can’t speak to this; not a category I follow.
- Documentary Feature – Citizenfour - another surprise, and hardly a safe choice, with an impassioned acceptance speech from the stage.
- Foreign Language Film – Ida (Poland) – I’d go for Two Days, One Night – not enamored of this film at all, but it’s a small, sincere film.
- Adapted Screenplay – Graham Moore, The Imitation Game – good choice here; Moore’s acceptance speech was raw and honest.
- Original Screenplay – Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – OK.
- Original Score – Alexandre Desplat, The Grand Budapest Hotel – don’t like the film, don’t like Wes Anderson, but he’s a cult favorite, so it wins.
- Original Song – “Glory” from Selma - the most moving moment of the evening, with an electrifying performance of the song, which got the evening’s first standing ovation & tears in the audience.
- Film Editing – Whiplash - picked this, and agree with it; in this small scale film, the editing had to be razor sharp, and it was.
- Production Design – The Grand Budapest Hotel - if you insist.
- Sound Editing – American Sniper – deserved; whatever you think of the film, the sound editing was utterly complex, and multi-layered.
- Sound Mixing – Whiplash - again, a great and deserving win for a film about a world of music – harder to mix that one might think.
- Visual Effects – Interstellar - dull film, average SPFX; I would have preferred Captain America, Winter Soldier here.
- Cinematography – Emmanuel Lubezki, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – superb cinematography, and a worthy win.
- Costume Design – Milena Canonero, The Grand Budapest Hotel - again, if you insist.
- Makeup and Hairstyling – Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier, The Grand Budapest Hotel - it picks up all these minor awards, but nothing major.
- Animated Short Film – Feast – haven’t seen it.
- Live Action Short Film – The Phone Call – haven’t seen it.
- Documentary Short Subject – Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 - a really good documentary; searing, honest, timely.
Those are my major thoughts; Neil Patrick Harris kept things moving, but the “predictions in a box” bit was lame and over-stretched; he seemed bored with the whole thing, and more or less just pushed things along; the songs keep slowing things down, especially the one after the memorial reel, which should just have been a fade to black; Selma will get a lot of much deserved traction as a result of the Glory performance, which was the standout moment of the evening for raw sincerity and passion; but it’s still not right that the director, Ava DuVernay, wasn’t nominated, but Glory did the most with what it had at hand. I predict that down the line it will get more attention than it has now; it certainly deserves it.
It was nice to see Jean-Claude Carrière win in the Governor’s Awards highlights reel for his many screenplays, especially for his work with the great Luis Buñuel; the tech awards deserve more than 30 seconds, and you could cut some of the endless musical numbers to give them just a bit more space; seen in 100 countries and 24 time zones by roughly half a billion viewers, the telecast of the 87th Oscars once again affirms, more than anything else, the continuing commercial dominance of the American cinema; but at the same time it’s interesting to see that the big budget “tent pole” movies were almost completely ignored in favor of smaller, more personal visions from the margins, where all the best ideas come from anyway.
The studios are stuck in this pattern of releasing big budget spectacles at enormous expense to drag viewers into the theaters, but while the Marvel and DC movies make money, it’s clear that the industry doesn’t really respect them – they want content, and thoughtful filmmaking. All in all, I was surprised by the end of the ceremonies – it’s always an ordeal, but people were allowed to speak their minds on any number of controversial topics from the stage. Some people went on & on forever, and got played off at the start of the ceremonies, but when someone had a real message to deliver, I noticed that the orchestra held back on a number of occasions.
The impassioned speech after the Glory production number was a real stunner, and Patricia Arquette’s call for equal pay and equal rights for women was met with resounding approval from the audience, and a raised fist shout out from Meryl Streep and others in support. However, as much as Julie Andrews is a cinematic icon, I thought the placement of the Sound of Music salute was bizarre to say the least, though Lady Gaga demonstrated that she’s learned a thing or two from Tony Bennett lately, singing the songs rather than belting them. All in all, a mixed bag that kept one thinking. No one film swept the awards, which was great – instead they seemed to be spread out over a number of interesting films, all of which will now get a lift at the box office and on VOD.