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Sunday, February 22, 2015

The 87th Annual Academy Awards: Results and Reactions

Boyhood vs. Birdman – The Oscars Grow Up and Soar Into the Sky

By Chris Sabga

Before the Show

The big buzz this year seems to be centered around "Boyhood" vs. "Birdman" and which one will win? Almost everyone I know seems to admire "Boyhood," but very few can bring themselves to love it. Will that spell success for "Birdman"? Or will the two front-runners split the vote, leading to an upset victory for one of the other six movies? (Yeah right! But stranger things have happened.)

The Red Carpet

I'm sure that one actress looked great and that other actress over there looked like she was wearing a garbage bag or brick wall. And did you see that hideous suit/hairstyle/facial hair on that actor who was in that movie.

The Oscar Ceremony

Full results are listed at the end.

I enjoyed the unexpected involvement of Anna Kendrick and Jack Black in the opening number, and Oscar host Neil Patrick Harris (NPH) being inserted into past classics such as "Risky Business" and "Willy Wonka," among others. It was a fun segment – if a bit long – and you have to admire how much work NPH must have put into it.

NPH delivered a great zinger equating "American Sniper's" box office success to Oprah – who was in the audience – with the other movies' respective earnings being compared to everyone else in attendance.

I was hoping against hope that Robert Duvall would win for Best Supporting Actor, but I knew better. I am very happy for J.K. Simmons though, who has long been one of my favorites and absolutely deserves to be rewarded on Oscar's grand stage. He is a hard-working journeyman actor, and exceptionally good at what he does. It's nice to see his years of supporting roles and small parts – including, seemingly, a million and one episodes of "Law & Order" – finally pay off.

Octavia Spencer is sitting next to her "Red Band Society" co-star Charlie Rowe. It's a shame that show didn't last.

I'll be a broken record about this every year, but these live musical performances only slow an already overlong show to a crawl. I really wish the Oscars were shorter and more streamlined. That isn't a criticism of the artist, who was fine, just the sluggish format of the Academy Awards ceremony in general.

I really hope NPH is joking about the overly-expensive and unnecessarily exorbitant gift bags the Oscar attendees receive – but I doubt he is. Doesn't Hollywood realize how that comes across to the rest of the world?

I really thought "Foxcatcher" would win for Best Makeup and Hairstyling. Was I the only one? But "The Grand Budapest Hotel" got it. I guess Lobby Boy's hairstyle really wowed the Academy.

It's no Adela Dazeem, but Chiwetel Ejiofor is a chewy mouthful, to say the least. I'm glad NPH got it right...I think.

"Ida" is pronounced "Eeda," apparently. I'm glad it won. But bad form, Academy, for trying to cut off Pawel Pawlikowski's acceptance speech. I wonder how Pawel Pawlikowski is pronounced.

LEGOs are awesome, and this musical number is awesomely weird as hell – blue tuxes, rats, cowboys, construction workers, astronauts, Batman, and other references to the movie and toy line. Where can I get one of those amazing LEGO Oscar statuettes?

"The Phone Call" won Best Live Action Short. Yes! Yes! Yes! Another successful Oscar pool prediction for me!

I need to win an Oscar now so I can get a free donut from the Pump Street Bakery like the "Phone Call" folks.

When there are two Oscar winners, I hate it that only one of them is seemingly "allowed" to really speak – as was the case with "The Phone Call." That "rule" didn't stop the "Crisis Hotline" winners though, and good for them!

Silver Screen Sister the Second: "John Travolta looks like wax plastic." Poor Vinnie Barbarino.

Harry Belafonte after winning the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award: "Arts are in fact the voice of civilization." I like that.

NPH is right: British accents really do make everything better.

Silver Screen Sister the Second: "You can tell Oprah is still aggravated with him [NPH] about the joke."

I really want Patricia Arquette to win for Best Supporting Actress. Like J.K. Simmons, she has been around a long time and really deserves the recognition.

Silver Screen Sister the Second (about Meryl Streep): "How is this Oscar worthy?" My response: "Because it's [expletive] [expletive] [expletive] Meryl Streep, and they have to nominate her for everything."

Patricia wins! Patricia wins! Patricia wins!

Her sentiment about wanting equal wages for working women in America is admirable – I agree wholeheartedly – but is this really the place for it? I hate it when Oscar winners use the ceremony as a soapbox for unrelated causes, no matter how noble they may be. Besides, no one else will ever be able to top Marlon Brando's bizarre, outlandish stunt on behalf of Native Americans. (Look it up, kids.)

And … Silver Screen Sister the Second taps out after an hour-and-a-half! "Would you be mad if I went home?" She left right before the musical number. Smart sister!

Kevin Hart – who is presenting the Best Animated Short – is surprisingly natural and convincing reading lines that were most likely written for someone else.

Finally, The Rock has come back to the Academy Awards!

He and Zoe Saldana are presenting the award for Best Animated Feature.

The Rock: "I can remember crying my eyes out during The Lion King."
Zoe Saldana: "How old were you?"
The Rock: "Not important."

He was 20. That was genuinely funny.

NPH introduces the President – long pause! – of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. I saw the punchline coming a mile away, but the joke still worked.

We still have – assuming my count is accurate – ten awards left, and I'm getting sleepy. That isn't a criticism of the show, which has been fine – I just wish it were faster.

For all of the grief "Queen Meryl" gets, Meryl Streep did a beautiful job of introducing the "In Memoriam" segment.

Geoffrey Holder (Punjab from "Annie") died? No! I knew about most of the others, but for some reason, that one caught me off-guard and made me especially sad. Childhood memories!

How in the hell does "Boyhood" lose for Film Editing? ("Whiplash" won instead.) "Boyhood" should've snapped this up, if nothing else. I am guessing this doesn't bode well for its Best Picture chances. Does "Whiplash" now have an outside chance for the big prize, based on this surprising result? We'll see.

I don't usually notice these things, but Octavia Spencer's dress is absolutely gorgeous. Fascinating fact from her: In response to Martin Luther King Jr.'s death in 1968, the Oscars were postponed that year. I never knew that.

NPH on Benedict Cumberbatch: "It's not only the most awesome name in show business, it's also the sound you get when you ask John Travolta to announce Ben Affleck." Then Adela Dazeem herself – Idina Menzel – is announced afterward with Travolta, who finally gets her name right (he famously mispronounced it last year). And, as he's about to say the names of the nominees for Best Original Song, she offers to do it instead. That's great.

"Selma" wins Best Song, and this may be the speech of the night.

"Secrets and Lies" commercial: Ryan Phillippe's name is pronounced "Fill-a-pee," not "Fill-eep-ay"? Now I feel like John Travolta. So does everyone who thinks Ralph Fiennes' name is pronounced "Ralph." (It's "Rafe." Go figure! And "Fines," I assume. I'd hate to find out it's "Fee-en-iss" or something like that.)

Seven awards left. Yep, this is going past midnight. At least it doesn't feel slow.

Julie Andrews hugging Lady Gaga after Her Ladyship's tribute to "The Sound of Music" may be the sweetest moment of the evening.

Graham Moore, winner for Best Adapted Screenplay for "The Imitation Game," revealed that he tried to commit suicide when he was 16 because he felt "weird" and "different." Unlike Patricia Arquette's earlier aside about equal wages for women, this made more sense for him to bring up in the middle of his Oscar speech because it was a personal and heartfelt story from his own life, and a nice contrast to his present circumstances of accepting an Oscar.

"Birdman" won Best Director – and several others. "Boyhood" only won Best Supporting Actress. I think it's obvious by now that this won't be "Boyhood's" night.

Eddie Redmayne wins Best Actor, and he's clearly overcome by the moment. I always prefer these emotional speeches to bland blathering thanking the Academy, family and friends, cast and crew, pet goldfish, etc.

That Best Actress clip for "Gone Girl" is a major spoiler. Why do the Oscars always do this?

NPH's "Oscar predictions" – a hilarious recap of the show instead of the expected list of which films he thought would win – was pretty clever. Overall, he was a pretty good host – friendly, funny, and a comforting presence – a modern-day Billy Crystal in a way (and that's high praise coming from me). I hope he returns next year.

Best Picture, finally. Will we get an upset?

Nope. "Birdman" wins.

I wrote that before "Birdman" was announced.

I was right!

The tale of the tape:

Birdman – 4
Boyhood – 1

I wasn't expecting it to be quite so lopsided.

"The Grand Budapest Hotel" also won four awards.

During the Best Picture award, "Birdman" director Inarritu started talking about Mexico. After giving so many other speeches already tonight, maybe he finally ran out of things to say about the movie?

Full Results

Best Picture: "Birdman"

Best Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, "Birdman"

Best Actor: Eddie Redmayne, "The Theory of Everything"

Best Actress: Julianne Moore, "Still Alice"

Best Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons, "Whiplash"

Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette, "Boyhood"

Best Original Screenplay: Alejandro Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris Jr., and Armando Bo, "Birdman"

Best Adapted Screenplay: Graham Moore, "The Imitation Game"

Best Animated Feature: "Big Hero 6"

Best Foreign Language Film: "Ida" (Poland)

Best Documentary – Feature: "Citizenfour"

Best Documentary – Short: "Crisis Hotline"

Best Original Score: Alexandre Desplat, "The Grand Budapest Hotel"

Best Original Song: John Legend and Common, "Glory" ("Selma")

Best Sound Editing: "American Sniper"

Best Sound Mixing: "Whiplash"

Best Production Design: "The Grand Budapest Hotel"

Best Cinematography: "Birdman"

Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier, "The Grand Budapest Hotel"

Best Costume Design: "The Grand Budapest Hotel"

Best Film Editing: "Whiplash"

Best Visual Effects: "Interstellar"

Best Live Action Short: "The Phone Call"

Best Animated Short: "Feast" 

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