The 87th Oscar Awards
At the Theatre with Audrey Linden
The consensus seems to be that the viewership went down this year, and that Neil Patrick Harris did not do a bang up job. His opening remarks about “honoring Hollywood’s best and whitest”…er “brightest” set the pace for his humor. That may have been his funniest joke. Previous Oscar Host for several years, Billy Crystal, set the bar very high. And, his shoes of are hard to follow. Steve Martin did a good job as did Ellen. I was surprised that Harris, who is a Broadway song and dance man did not use those talents to open the show, which would have made sense. His stab at funny one liners went flat. Totally.
Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs gave a nice speech in the middle of the ceremony about the “power of film as a universal force that connects.”
Sponsors, Cadillac, Samsung, American Express, A T & T, J C Penny had some really nice spots. I liked the Cadillac spot in particular which not only showed diversity but also showed how important it is to take risks and reinvent yourself. Those were beautiful commercials for Cadillac.
The line Harris said about the absence of Snowden, after Laura Poitras had won for Best Documentary for “Citizenfour” was not funny and I heard it as “He didn’t come for a reason”. When I saw the line in print, “he didn’t come for Treason”, well, it wasn’t humorous either way. Also, his reference to Reese Witherspoon’s name was equally lame “So lovely you could eat her with a spoon”, as was his remark about John Travolta thinking “Benedict Cumberbatch” would have meant Ben Affleck had John Travolta said it. Those must have been last minute improvised lines because I cannot imagine any Hollywood writer being paid to come up with them. The bit with Harris walking from his dressing room onto the stage in his “tighty-whities” was funny. The rest was off.
Overall, the Oscars showed diversity, not in the choice of actors who were nominated, or the films that were nominated but in the presenters. Maybe the Academy felt that balanced out the lack of diversity in their choices. It was good to see Oprah Winfrey, Kerry Washington, Octavia Spencer, Zoe Saldana, Lupita Nyongo’s, Eddie Murphy, Chiwetel Ejiofor, David Oyelowo, (lovely fitted maroon tuxedo), Viola Davis, Terrence Howard, and Harry Belafonte, who got the Gene Hersholt Award for Lifetime Achievement, Jennifer Hudson, Common and John Legend, etc.
The musical numbers were great with Lady Gaga doing a stellar performance and tribute to Julie Andrews. She looked ethereal with her gauzy white dress and long greyish blonde hair, but her tats bothered me. Long sleeves or gloves would have kept the princess-like effect. But, that voice was magnificent and the lady can really sing. The medley from the “Sound of Music” was so very fine! And, Julie Andrews seemed moved by the performance and tribute also. Julie Andrews who presented Original Score to “The Grand Budapest Hotel” Alexandre Desplat said of the medley by Lady Gaga, “It really warmed my heart.” “It really did.”
Likewise, Jennifer Hudson’s musical number, “I Can’t Let Go” was beautifully done. She sang with such feeling and that look up at the end said it all as a meaningful tribute to those who passed away last year. The portraits, with water drops on them were strikingly lovely as Meryl Streep introduced the tribute and we saw the faces from Mickey Rooney at the beginning of the tribute list to Mike Nichols at the end. Charles Champlain columnist for the Los Angeles Times was also mentioned.
Tim Mc Graw sang Glenn Campbell’s original song “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from the documentary, “I’ll Be Me” as the cameras did closeups on Campbell’s wife and daughter.
Another highlight was to see Maureen O’Hara, though in a wheel chair, she was on stage.
Some wins were predictable but a few were not. All nominees are winners and it is hard to select one performance over another, one song over another, and one picture over another. All the actors gave great performances and the top films were all Oscar worthy. We all had out favorites.
Best Picture. I think many expected Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood” to come away with Best Picture simply because he is the first director to have the concept of shooting in sequence over a 12 year period as he told the story of a young man’s development into a young adult. That was a tremendous undertaking. There was nothing spectacular though in the cinematography. Alejandro G. Inarritu’s “Birdman” won and the surprise was he won in a triumvirate for Best Original Screenplay ( which he co-wrote with Nicholas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris Jr., and Armando Bo, and Best Director. Inarritu in his acceptance speech , he dedicated his Oscar to the people of Mexico and hoped they get the government they deserve in Mexico and also “that immigrants here be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve in the United States.” He is the second Latin American to win the Director Oscar. Last year, Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron won for “Gravity”. The only blemish on the triumvirate win came from presenter, Sean Penn when he opened the envelope for Best Picture remarked as in disbelief “Who gave this son of a bitch his green card”? Even if he was joking, that remark was in bad taste. Inarritu quipped, “Two Mexicans in a row, that’s suspicious.” “Maybe the Academy will do some immigration laws.”
“Birdman” also won Cinematography with Emmanuel Lubezki. Inarritu’s “Birdman” won in a total of four categories. It was a courageous undertaking and not everyone’s favorite film. When he accepted his award, Inarritu did ask Michael Keaton, whom he referred to as the Maestro, to say a few words. I think it was “touch and go” as to who would win Best Actor between Eddie Redmayne and Michael Keaton.
Lead Actor went to Eddie Redmayne for his absolutely realistic job in “The Theory of Everything”. His acting, depicting Stephen Hawking was phenomenal. And, Redmayne’s speech that he was merely “the custodian” for the Oscar which went to all who have been stricken by ALS was heartfelt.
Lead Actress was no surprise with the Oscar going to Julianne Moore for her splendid portrayal of a 50 year old woman stricken with early onset of Alzheimer’s in “Still Alice”. More has an impressive body of work, but she gave a chilling performance. She had me in tears. This was a well-deserved win. And, I liked her quip to her husband, who is younger, that winning an Oscar can take five years off an actor’s life which is good because she is older than her husband.
Supporting Actor was no surprise as the Oscar went to J. K. Simmons for his portrayal as the ruthless music director in “Whiplash”. We remember J. K. Simmons for his reoccurring role in the Farmer’s commercials. Who would have thought that that nice, smiling spokesman had it in him to be so savagely mean? His acceptance speech showed his true colors with a special mention to his wife, Michelle Shumacher and to his children. He also paid tribute to his parents and asked “all who are lucky enough to have a parent alive on this planet, don’t text them, call them.” “And listen to them as long as they want to talk.” He got a round of applause for those words.
Supporting Actress also was no surprise and represented a long overdue win to Patricia Arquette for her twelve years in “Boyhood”. That was “Boyhood’s sole win. Arquette gave a political speech which was lauded by Meryl Streep who practically jumped out of her seat as Arquette spoke of “Wage equality and equal rights for the women of America”.
Adapted screenplay went to Graham Moore for “The Imitation Game”. His speech was courageous as he admitted that at age sixteen, he did not feel he belonged and tried to kill himself. He said, “You belong”. He mentioned that it was unfair that Allan Turing, who had taken his life, was not there to see the audience applauding him. “Stay weird, stay different, and then when it’s your turn, and you’re standing on the stage, pass along the same message”.
Another surprise was that the Animated Feature Oscar went not to “How to Train Your Dragon” but to “Big Hero 6”: Don Hall, Chris Williams, and Roy Conli
Costume Design went to the wonderful period piece, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” with costumes by Milena Canonero.
Documentary went to Laura Poitras’ “Citizenfour” about whistleblower, Edward Snowden. She received the award along with Glenn Greenwald, one of the correspondents. “His motives were pure, authentic”. “It took an extraordinary act of courage”. “Once you understand that, you understand (what he did is) really important.”said Mathilde Bonnefoy, who was one of the Oscar winning producers of “Citizenfour” and Dirk Wilutzky and Laura Poitras were the other two. Snowden’s girlfriend, Lindsay Mills also was onstage with the winners.
Editing went to “Whiplash”, Tom Cross. “Whiplash” won three Oscars. It won for Supporting Actor, J. K. Simmons, Editing, and Sound Mixing to Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins, and Thomas Curley.
Original Song went to “Selma” for “Glory” John Legend (John Stephens) in his acceptance speech said, ‘Selma is now because the struggle for justice is right now”. He and Common (Lonnie Lynn) had the experience of having their song sung while walking on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. ‘We know that the Voting Rights Act that they fought for 50 years ago is being compromised right now in this country today”. There wasn’t a dry eye after their very moving performance with a set of the Edmund Pettus Bridge as a backdrop. Close ups showed Oprah, and David Oyelowo had tears streaming down their cheeks as the duo got a standing ovation.
Foreign Language Feature went to the black and white “Ida”. Writer-director from Poland, Pawel Pawlikowski gave a moving speech wondering how he got there. “We made a film in black and white about the need for silence and withdrawal from the world and contemplation.” “And here we are at the center of noise and world attention”. “Life is full of surprises.”
Makeup and Hairstyling went to Francis Hannon and Mark Coulier for “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, which won for four with Costume Design, and Original Score, and Production Design, Adam Stockhausen and set decoration Anna Pinnock.
Sound Editing went to “American Sniper” Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman.
Visual Effects went to “Interstellar” Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter, and Scott Fisher
Animated Short Film went to “Feast” Patrick Osborne, director
Documentary Short Film went to “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1” Director, Ellen Goosenberg Kent, Co-director, Dana Perry’s son committed suicide and she said “We should talk about suicide out loud.”
Live-Action Short Film “The Phone Call” Mat Kirkby director
There are no losers. It is an honor to be nominated and be among those considered for an Oscar.
Audrey Linden is a writer, actress and singer. She can be seen in a long-running “Associated Tax Resolution” commercial, two “Little Caesars” spots, a “Teva International Pharmaceutical” short, Gene Simmons’ “Family Jewels,” “America’s Court with Judge Ross,” VHS “Tough Love 2,” “Wendy’s” , “Shimmer” commercial, Spike T V, etc.
Audrey teaches ON CAMERA COMMERCIAL and IMPROV COMEDY WORKSHOPS through the City of Beverly Hills. For information as to the next registration dates, call 310-285-6850. Her classes are held at 241 Moreno Dr. B.H. 90212. Her current class is full. The next ON CAMERA class starts in Spring. Early enrollment is advised as class fills with 12 students. For more information, contact Audrey at email@example.com