Last night the funny, energetic Neil Patrick Harris hosted the 87th annual Academy Awards. The show was filled with jokes, music, and moving moments that filled Hollywood’s Dolby Theater. Harris opened the show with a magical musical performance. He had a back drop behind him to the give the illusion of him performing the same movements that the characters in film were being acted out in their original form. For example, he was reenacting Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain and twirling around a light post in his famous scene from the film. Throughout the performance, the beautifully talented Anna Kendrick joined him onstage in her Cinderella costume from her performance in the film Into the Woods. As the music played on a disgruntled Jack Black joined them onstage to get in on the musical performance, until both Harris and Kendrick cut him off for interrupting their number.
The opening was a wonderful ode to movies or as they referred to them as ‘moving pictures.’ Harris superimposed himself into famous movie scenes while he sang and acknowledged the significance film has impacted audiences into ‘shaping who they are.’ It was the perfect way to start off the night dedicated to film.
The very first award went to J.K. Simmons for his fiercely intimidating role as a music conservatory instructor in Whiplash. It was his first nomination, and therefore first win. He started off the night with a great speech that included him begging viewers to call their mom. “Wow, thank you. Thank you to the Academy. Thank you to everyone involved in the making of Whiplash. And I am grateful everyday for the most remarkable person I know: my wife, the wonderful Michelle Schumacher. I’m grateful for your love, your kindness, your wisdom, your sacrifice and your patience. Which brings me to the above-average children—even though I may try their patience more. Joe and Olivia, you are extraordinary human beings. Smart, funny, kind, loving people and that’s because you are a reflection of your mother. And if I may, call your mom, everybody. I’ve told this [to], like, a billion people, or so. Call your mom, call your dad. If you’re lucky enough to have a parent or two alive on this planet, call ‘em. Don’t text. Don’t email. Call them on the phone. Tell ‘em you love ‘em, and thank them, and listen to them for as long as they want to talk to you. Thank you. Thank you, Mom and Dad.”
Shortly after, was the first musical performance for an Oscar nominated song. The Voice’s own Adam Levine performed ‘Lost Stars’ from the film Begin Again with his band Maroon 5. The performance was great with the stage beautifully lit as if they are sitting under a night sky filled with twinkling stars.
The Grand Budapest Hotel then went on to win a few Oscars, for costume design and hair and makeup. Then Polish-British filmmaker Pawel Pawlikowski won for best foreign language film with the Polish film Ida, and was awkwardly still talking as the music is loudly trying to usher him offstage during his acceptance speech.
The next Oscar nominated song performance was ‘Everything is Awesome’ from The Lego Movie. The performance was bright, fun and well awesome. Tegan and Sara, Questlove, and Andy Sandberg were joined onstage with Will Arnett dressed in a Batman suit playing guitar. It was a great way to liven up the show after nearly two hours in.
Tim McGraw performed the Glen Cambell song ‘I’m Not Gonna Miss You’ from the film Glen Cambell: I’ll Be Me. The song captures Campbell’s life with Alzheimer’s disease. It was a great performance by McGraw, like Maroon 5’s but didn’t compare to the lively upbeat crowd pleaser of ‘Everything is Awesome.’
The next acting award went to Patricia Arquette for her performance in the 12 year in the making film, Boyhood. Her speech started out like any other, thanking the Academy, cast, crew and family, and then turned into a passionate equal rights speech. The full speech, “Okay, Jesus. Thank you to the Academy, to my beautiful, powerful nominees. To IFC, Jonathan Sehring, John Sloss, Cathleen Sutherland, Molly Madden, David DeCamillo, our whole cast and our crew. My Boyhood family, who I love and admire. Our brilliant director Richard Linklater. The impeccable Ethan Hawke. My lovelies, Ellar Coltrane, Lorelei Linklater. Thomas and Paul, thank you for giving me my beautiful children. Enzo and Harlow, you’re the deepest people that I know. My friends who all work so hard to make this world a better place. To my parents, Rosanna, Richmond, Alexis and David. To my favorite painter in the world, Eric White, for the inspiration of living with a genius. To my heroes, volunteers and experts who have helped me bring ecological sanitation to the developing world with GiveLove.org. To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.” Nominee Meryl Streep and presenter Jennifer Lopez, got off their seats and were cheering for the powerful words Arquette spoke, and shouting “Yes” over and over.
Big Hero 6 won the Oscar for best animated feature film, and Emmanuel Lubezki won a second year in a row with Birdman for cinematography. Last year he won for his work in Gravity. The night then turned somber with the interesting ‘In Memoriam’ video showing artistic drawings of all the people that passed in film this past year. Usually, there are either clips or real images of the people that passed, and not completely sure how people felt about the somewhat morbid drawings. Joan Rivers was somehow forgotten during the video and not sure if that was on purpose or just simply a mistake, but she deserved to be recognized and it’s sad that she didn’t get acknowledged. Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson performed the beautiful song ‘I Can’t Let Go’ after the video aired.
The final performance for best original song was ‘Glory’ from the film Selma. Lonnie Lynn, or as some people know him as Common, and John Stephens who is also known as John Legend, moved the audience with their touching performance. An emotional David Oyelowo, who portrayed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was moved to tears during their stellar performance as was actor Chris Pine and several other stars had tears in their eyes.
On a much lighter note, the beautiful Idina Menzel took center stage to introduce the crowd to Glom Gazingo, or as most people refer to him as, John Travolta. This was a nice gag from last year’s Oscars when Travolta announced Menzel as Adele Dazeem. They made a few jokes including the fact that when Travolta was going to announce the nominees Menzel cut in and asked if he really wanted to attempt to say their names. Garnering some laughs he let her read and announce the winner for best original song, which went to ‘Glory.’ Lonnie Lynn started the speech with, “This bridge was once a landmark of a divided nation, but now is a symbol for change. The spirit of this bridge connects the kid from the South side of Chicago, dreaming of a better life to those in France standing up for their freedom of expression to the people in Hong Kong protesting for democracy.” Stephens, then went on to say, “We wrote this song for a film that was based on events that were 50 years ago but we say Selma is now, because the struggle for justice is right now. We know that the voting rights, the act that they fought for 50 years ago is being compromised right now in this country today, we know that right now the struggle for freedom and justice is real. We live in the most incarcerated country in the world. There are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850. When people are marching with our song, we want to tell you that we are with you, we see you, we love you, and march on.”
One of the most shocking moments of the night was when Lady Gaga wowed the audience in her incredible performance of a medley of songs from the Julie Andrews film, The Sound of Music. The performance included the songs, “The Hills are Alive,” “My Favorite Things,” and “Climb Every Mountain.” After her beautiful rendition Julie Andrews came out on stage for the film’s 50 anniversary and announced best original score which went to The Grand Budapest Hotel.
The best speech of the night should be awarded to Graham Moore who won for best adapted screenplay, for The Imitation Game. His speech was brilliant and refreshing during a rather long, slow show. He began by thanking the Academy and Oprah (she presented him the Oscar) and then stated, “Here’s the thing. Alan Turing never got to stand on a stage like this and look out at all of these disconcertingly attractive faces. I do. And that’s the most unfair thing I’ve ever heard. So in this brief time here, what I wanted to do was say this: When I was 16 years old, I tried to kill myself because I felt weird and I felt different, and I felt like I did not belong. And now I’m standing here, and so I would like this moment to be for this kid out there who feels like she’s weird or she’s different or she doesn’t fit in anywhere: Yes, you do. I promise you do. Stay weird, stay different, and then, when it’s your turn, and you are standing on this stage, please pass the same message to the next person who comes along. Thank you so much!” For anyone who is unfamiliar with Alan Turing or The Imitation Game, after Turing broke the enigma, later on in life he was prosecuted for being gay and his death was considered a suicide.
Finally, the end of the night came and the most anticipated awards were about to be presented after nearly a three hour show. The best director Oscar went to Alejandro Inarritu for Birdman. He claimed his good luck charm was wearing Michael Keaton’s underwear including, “Tonight I am wearing the real Michael Keaton tighty-whities. Thank you. They are tight. Smell like balls, but it worked, I’m here.”
The best actor Oscar went to Eddie Redmayne in his fantastic performance as Stephen Hawking in the Oscar nominated film, The Theory of Everything. He passionately kissed his wife and stated, “Thank you, thank you. Thank you to the Academy. I don’t think I’m capable of articulating quite how I feel right now. I am fully aware that I am a lucky, lucky man. This Oscar—wow! Um, this Oscar… This belongs to all of those people around the world battling ALS. It belongs to one exceptional family, Stephen, Jane, Jonathan, and the Hawking children. And I will be its custodian and I will promise you I will look after him. I will polish him. I will answer his beck and call and I will wait on him hand and foot. But I would not be here if it were not for an extraordinary troupe of people. My staggering partner in crime, Felicity Jones as well as my ferocious and yet incredibly kind director, James Marsh, Working Title, Focus. He then thanks his “ingenious team” and concludes with, “Now, finally, please, this is so extraordinary. My family and you, Hannah, my wife, we have a new fellow coming to share our apartment!”
The best actress award went to three time Oscar nominee Julianne Moore for her stellar performance in Still Alice. She began her speech with, “Thank you so much. I read an article that said that winning an Oscar could lead to living five years longer. If that’s true, I’d really like to thank the Academy because my husband is younger than me. There’s no such thing as best actress, as is evidenced by the performances of my fellow nominees. I’ve been honored to be among you every step of the way. I am grateful for this and grateful for the opportunity to stand up here and thank people that I love. My manager Evelyn O’Neill, Kevin Huvane, Steven Huvane, Josh Lieberman, my family, my grandparents, my brother Peter, my sister Valerie, my mother and father who told me that I could be whatever I wanted to be if I got an education. Although, I didn’t think they meant being an actress. And I thank my dad for showing me the world. I want to thank everybody who made this movie: Sony Classics, Killer Films, James Brown, Lex Lutzus, Lisa Genova, Kristen Stewart, Alec Baldwin. I’m so happy – I’m thrilled actually that we were able to hopefully shine a light on Alzheimer’s disease. So many people with this disease feel isolated and marginalized and one of the wonderful things about movies is it makes us feel seen and not alone. And people with Alzheimer’s deserve to be seen, so that we can find a cure. And finally, to our filmmakers, Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer, who had hoped to be here tonight but they can’t because of Richard’s health. When Richard was diagnosed with ALS, Wash asked him what he wanted to do. Did he want to travel? Did he want to see the world? And he said that he wanted to make movies and that’s what he did. And, finally, for my husband Bart and our children, Cal and Liv, thank you for my life. Thank you for giving me a home. Thank you very much for this.”
The final award and most anticipated because everyone thought it would be a tough call between Birdman and Boyhood, actually went to Alejandro Inarritu for Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). Inarritu takes the stage again and thanks everyone who worked on the film, then is reminded that he forgot to thank his wife and then begs Michael Keaton to say a speech. Keaton states that it was a tremendous experience for him to be a part of Birdman and praises his director as being as “bold as bold can be.”
The show, although long and a lot of lulls in between was great and exciting to celebrate the actors, filmmakers, and crew that dedicate their lives to entertain audiences around the world to escape into a different dimension of drama, comedy, suspense, thrill, and hope.