ABC/Craig Sjodin(LOS ANGELES) — Going into Sunday night’s Academy Awards, the race for Best Picture seemed to come down to the two “B” – Birdman vs. Boyhood. And in the end, it was Birdman — starring Michael Keaton as a washed up actor who tries to relaunch his career on the New York stage — which triumphed. The movie took home four awards in total, including Best Cinematography, and Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for Alejandro G. Iñárritu. “This has been a tremendous experience. This guy is as bold as bold can be,” Keaton said of Iñárritu.
The big award was announced by Sean Penn, who previously worked on the 2003 movie 21 Grams with Iñárritu, which we assume he figured would excuse his comment before he announced that Birdman was the winner. Penn said of the Mexican director, “Who gave this son of a b**h his green card?”, causing some outrage on Twitter and accusations of racism. Backstage, Inarritu told reporters he thought the line was “hilarious.” He said, “Sean and I have that kind of brutal [relationship] where only true friendship can survive.”
[SEE THE WINNERS IN THE KEY CATEGORIES OF THE 87TH ACADEMY AWARDS]
While Keaton’s performance in Birdman was widely praised, he failed to win Best Actor, losing to Eddie Redmayne, who played physicist Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. An extremely excited Redmayne said he knew onstage that he is a “lucky, lucky man,” and dedicated the award to “all those people around the world battling ALS” — the disease Hawking suffers from — as well as Hawking’s family. He said of the Oscar statuette, “I will be its custodian and I will polish him and wait on him hand and foot and I promise I will look after him.”
Julianne Moore, considered the frontrunner for her role as a professor with early-onset Alzheimer’s in Still Alice, took home the Best Actress trophy after five nominations. “I read an article that said winning an Oscar could lead to living five years longer,” she said. “If that’s true, I’d really like to thank the Academy because my husband is younger than me.” She also said she was glad to shine a light on those suffering from Alzheimer’s. “So many people with this disease feel isolated and marginalized…and people with Alzheimer’s deserve to be seen so we can find a cure,” she added.
J.K. Simmons and Patricia Arquette were named Best Supporting Actor and Actress, respectively, and both gave memorable speeches, though very different in tone. After paying tribute to his wife and kids, Simmons, who won for his role as a sadistic music teacher in Whiplash, told the audience, “Call your mom, call your dad, if you’re lucky enough to have a parent or two alive on this planet, call them. Don’t text, don’t email, call them on the phone. Tell them you love them, and thank them, and listen to them for as long as they want to talk to you. “
As for Arquette, who won for Boyhood, she turned her speech into a call to action. “To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights,” she said. “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America.” Many in the audience leaped to their feet, including Meryl Streep, who pointed at Arquette in solidarity.
In fact, the winners’ speeches — and not host Neil Patrick Harris — were the most entertaining and thought-provoking part of the entire Oscar ceremony.
Graham Moore, who won Best Adapted Screenplay for The Imitation Game, revealed onstage that he tried to kill himself as a teenager because he “felt weird, and I felt different and I felt like I did not belong. And now I’m standing here.” He then said he wanted to dedicate his award to “that kid out there who feels like she’s weird or she’s different.” He added, “Stay weird, stay different, and then when it’s your turn and you are standing on the stage, please pass the same message to the next person that comes along.” His comments drew huge applause.
When John Legend and rapper Common won the Oscar for Best Original Song for “Glory,” from the movie Selma, they got a standing ovation and brought some to tears with their powerful speeches. Noting that he and Legend had recently performed on the same bridge in Selma that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had staged his famous march on, Common said, “This bridge was once a landmark of a divided nation, but now is a symbol for change…this bridge was built on hope, welded with compassion and elevated by love for all human beings.”
Legend added, “Selma is now because the struggle for justice is right now…the struggle for freedom…is real…when people are marching with our song, we wanna tell you that we are with you, we see you, we love you, and march on.”
On the lighter side, when Iñárritu accepted the award for Best Director, he claimed that under his tux, as a good luck charm, he was wearing the smelly tightey-whiteys that Michael Keaton donned in Birdman for a scene when he ran through Times Square half-naked.
After last year’s “Adele Dazeem” moment, when John Travolta mispronounced Idina Menzel’s name, the two reunited onstage as Menzel introduced him as “Glom Gazingo,” a dig Travolta said he deserved. He also wouldn’t stop touching Menzel’s face, which was just weird.
Other highlights of the show included Lady Gaga’s tribute to The Sound of Music, during which she flawlessly belted out a medley of the movie’s best-known tunes — from the title track and “Climb Every Mountain” to “Edelweiss” and “My Favorite Things” — and absolutely brought the house down. The movie’s star, Julie Andrews, emerged to embrace Gaga and tell her that her performance “warmed my heart.”
Other musical performers included Maroon 5, Jennifer Hudson and Tim McGraw; a production number for the nominated song “Everything Is Awesome,” from The Lego Movie, was a technicolor explosion of craziness that featured Tegan & Sara, The Lonely Island, Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh, The Roots’ Questlove, multiple dancers, Batman, streamers, break dancing construction workers and Oscar statuettes made of Lego.
While host Neil Patrick Harris’ opening number, “Moving Pictures” — featuring Anna Kendrick and Jack Black — was charming, funny and enjoyable, things quickly went downhill from there.
According to Twitter, the most tweeted-about moments in the show, as measured in Tweets per minute were:
- Lady Gaga performs, is joined by Julie Andrews
- Alejandro Iñárritu wins Best Picture for Birdman
- Patricia Arquette’s acceptance speech for winning Best Supporting Actress
The most Tweeted-about nominees and performers were Lady Gaga, Patricia Arquette and John Legend. Birdman was the film that got the most mentions on Twitter. It was followed by The Grand Budapest Hotel and Boyhood.
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