2015: An Oscar Commentary
The Oscar ceremony continues to be sprawling and clunky and not great television, but I actually rather enjoyed it this year. I liked Neil Patrick Harris’s segments a lot less than I thought I would (except for that opening number, which he crushed). They felt forced, and often meandering. But he’s not the worst I’ve seen, and hosting the Oscars is probably the most thankless job in Hollywood. Other than the Sound of Music bit, I can’t remember any time when I wondered what was up with some lengthy detour or another, so that was good, too. Because it was still way too long, as always.
So, the final tabulation: 4 wins for Birdman, 4 wins for The Grand Budapest Hotel, 3 wins for Whiplash, and 1 win apiece for each of the other Best Picture nominees, plus a win for Still Alice, Interstellar, Big Hero 6, Ida, and Citizenfour. So, basically, outside of the “special” categories, only 2 wins for non-Best Pictures.
The biggest disappointments of the night: Extremely bad calls in both writing categories, and no win for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. The Grand Budapest Hotel also failed to win any major awards, but it did win 4, tying for big winner of the night, so that kind of made up for it. Plus, Whiplash did way better than I think anyone expected, so that’s fantastic. I’m shocked at how poorly Boyhood did, in particular, but there just aren’t enough awards to go around to all the deserving films, especially when several always have to go to less deserving films as well. Still, the highs this year were higher than the lows!
In case you’re curious, here are my favorite films of 2014, ranked. There are a lot of movies I haven’t seen, but that’s where I’m at right now. On with 2015!
All set and ready to go on Oscar night! Pretty psyched to see Neil Patrick Harris host, and hopefully at least a few outcomes that I’m happy with! My semi-realistic main hopes: A shut-out in the major awards for American Sniper (mainly Best Picture) and The Imitation Game (mainly Best Adapted Screenplay), and at least 2 wins for Grand Budapest Hotel, 1 in a major category (probably Best Original Screenplay), plus Visual Effects to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. That’s not too much to ask, is it?
Basking in the glow of the killer opening musical number . . . Because if nothing else, Neil Patrick Harris does this better than any other host I can think of.
Best Supporting Actor: As last year’s winner (for 12 Years a Slave) Lupita Nyong’o presents this award. There’s no question this award should go to J.K. Simmons. “And the actor goes to . . .” Haha. Yeah, he totally gets it. No surprise, but very happy for him, and very happy Whiplash has at least one award.
Liam Neeson introduces The Grand Budapest Hotel and American Sniper. Which is an odd pairing, since those are my favorite and least favorite Best Picture nominees.
Dakota Johnson introduces the performance of “Lost Stars” nominated from Begin Again. Really liked this movie, and really like this song. It’s my 3rd favorite of the song, because it’s a pretty strong category this year.
Best Costumes: Jennifer Lopez and Chris Pine are announcing. Hoping for The Grand Budapest Hotel here, obviously. So, I’m pretty happy with this result.
Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Reese Witherspoon announcing. I feel like Foxcatcher will win this, but all 3 are deserving . . . Oh, another win for The Grand Budapest Hotel. So happy right now! It is now the Oscar-winningest Wes Anderson film to-date with 2 wins.
Channing Tatum is doing something with that short-film contest thing.
Best Foreign Film: Nicole Kidman and Chiwetel Ejiofor are announcing. I’ve only seen Ida, which was excellent, so obviously I’m glad it won! Fantastic speech: He made a film about silence. and the need for withdrawal and contemplation, and here he is at the center of world attention. Of course he’s getting played off . . . But he talked through it, and they stopped.
Shirley MacLaine introduces Boyhood, The Theory of Everything, and Birdman.
Marion Cotillard announces this great rendition of “Everything is Awesome” from The Lego Movie. They’re handing out Lego Oscars to the crowd. Love it.
Best Live Action Short & Documentary Short: Kerry Washington and Jason Bateman are announcing. “The Phone Call” wins the former. I didn’t see any of these, as usual. I heard “Butter Lamp” was the best of them, but I don’t know. “Crisis Hotline” wins the latter. I do wish these were actually available to be seen by everyone. Maybe someday soon.
Viola Davis introduces a montage discussing the Governors Awards: Maureen O’Hara, Hayao Miyazaki, Harry Belafonte. Wow. Awesome.
Gwyneth Paltrow introduces Tim McGraw singing “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me. I’m not sure I’ve actually heard this song before. Very powerful. Wow.
Margot Robbie and Miles Teller are telling us about the scientific and technical awards . . . but no one is listening because Neil Patrick Harris walked out to introduce them in nothing but his tighty-whities.
Best Sound Mixing and Sound Editing: Sienna Miller and Chris Evans are announcing. Whiplash wins the former, which I’m super-psyched about, and American Sniper wins the latter, which is quite well-deserved. I hope it’s the only win it gets tonight.
Best Supporting Actress: Jared Leto, who won last year for Dallas Buyers Club, is here presumably to announce Patricia Arquette’s victory. So that’s the first win for Boyhood! Hopefully it won’t be the last.
Josh Hutcherson introduces Dianne Warren to sing “Grateful” from Beyond the Lights.
Best Visual Effects: Chloe Moretz and Ansel Elgort are announcing that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes lost to Interstellar, which makes me sad.
Best Animated Short: Anna Kendrick and Kevin Hart announce. The award goes to “Feast” which was the only one I and everyone else actually saw. It was alright, I guess.
Best Animated Feature: Zoe Saldana and Dwayne Johnson announcing. They’re not giving it to The Lego Movie, so who cares? Oh . . . Wow, Big Hero 6 won, at least. I really thought something I liked far less was going to get it. So that’s nice, anyway.
Best Production Design: Felicity Jones and Chris Pratt announce. Will be so thrilled if Grand Budapest gets this one, too. And it does! Three wins for Grand Budapest, and it is definitely the big winner of the night so far. If it gets Screenplay, as well, I’ll be satisfied.
Best Cinematography: Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba announcing, probably for Birdman . . . Yes. I’m fine with this win, but Lubezki just won last year, and I’d have preferred to see Grand Budapest win this (obviously) or Ida (which was mind-blowingly beautiful and brilliantly shot).
Meryl Streep is introducing the “In Memoriam” segment. Some of these always take me by surprise. How did I not hear about James Garner? Or did I forget? And H.R. Giger? Man, this is always so sad all put together. Gorgeous portraits for each member who appeared, though. Very classy and well-done. And closing with a song sung by Jennifer Hudson.
Best Editing: Naomi Watts and Benedict Cumberbatch are announcing. Surely Boyhood will win this one. Wow, no. It went to Whiplash. I’m happy that film is doing so well, but also surprised Boyhood is doing so badly. At least the films I liked least aren’t doing the best (so far).
Terrence Howard introduces the rest of the Best Picture nominees: Whiplash, The Imitation Game, and Selma.
Best Documentary Feature: Jennifer Aniston and David Oyelowo announcing. The buzz was behind Citizenfour, so the win isn’t a surprise I guess. I didn’t get to see it, but wanted to. I had no idea which way this was going to go.
Octavia Spencer is introducing John Legend and Common to sing “Glory” from Selma. Hope this wins.
Best Original Song: Adele Dazeem and John Travolta are announcing . . . Great sequel to last year’s flub of Idina Menzel’s name by Travolta! And the award goes to “Glory” so that’ll be Selma‘s one win.
Scarlett Johansson is introducing a . . . Sound of Music montage? Because 50-year anniversary? Pretty random . . . And Lady Gaga is singing. I mean, I guess if this becomes an annual thing to celebrate the Best Picture of a half-century ago. Except everyone knows they’ll hit a real stinker every now and then, and a forgotten relic even more frequently, so that won’t work. Anyway . . . Oh, good. Julie Andrews is at least taking the stage.
Best Original Score: Oh, and Julie Andrews is staying on to announce this award. No idea which way it will go, with the double nomination for Desplat. Oh, wow. Just what I was hoping: A fourth win for The Grand Budapest Hotel. Feeling a bit giddy at this point that it’s going so well.
Best Original Screenplay: Eddie Murphy is announcing. Really hoping for a final win for Budapest here. But no! It goes to Birdman! I am so bummed. Four wins in nice, but five would have made my life complete. That may well mean that there’s no chance now for Budapest to be the night’s big winner (Best Picture or no).
Best Adapted Screenplay: Oprah will announce this, and it will probably go to The Imitation Game, the least-deserving nominee, giving it it’s first win.
Best Director: Ben Affleck gives the award to Iñarritu as expected. He’s great, and I’m happy for him, but this will be remembered as the year when Richard Linklater and Wes Anderson both lost Best Director.
Best Actor: Cate Blanchett announces Eddie Redmayne as the winner. A lot of people are surprised, but I’m not: He was so spectacular in that role. And now all of the nominees have won at least one award, which almost never happens.
Best Actress: Matthew McConaughey announces Julianne Moore as the winner. She’s the clear winner in a category that is very, very strong. And so great, too, that she finally has a win!
Best Picture: Sean Penn gives it to Birdman, which I’m having a pretty hard time feeling even a little bit happy about. I liked Birdman quite a bit, but there were so many films that were better. It just doesn’t belong in that pantheon . . . But then, that “pantheon” is really full of holes already, I guess, even in recent years: The Artist, The King’s Speech, Crash, etc. I’d say Birdman is probably a better win than those. It’s all relative, and none of it diminishes the films that were better. They really got it right last year. I shouldn’t expect it to happen too often.