Yes, Birdman won. Everything. The Grand Budapest Hotel took home every smaller category imaginable, which can either be seen as revelatory of the true genius of the minutiae that comprises Wes Anderson’s work, or an attempt to compensate him for losing every major category to Birdman’s Alejandro González Iñárritu.
The major film categories were upsets. The acting awards were if not predictable, at least logical (Julianne Moore has not had an insincere moment in her career. Give her something already.)
But the show itself had more losses than wins, with an overall disappointing, flat production. Its wins came directly from two sources: the most gorgeous set design of any award show ever staged, and unpredictable external gifts from the attendees.
Aside from hiring the perfect production team, the Academy did itself no favours last night, and should be heading directly back to the drawing board this morning. After several years of enjoyably taking the piss out of their self-congratulatory frivolity, they got cocky with the first year of truly stellar cinematic output in several and attempted a gravitas they hadn’t yet earned back from a too-long and consistent period of flops and reaches.
Why would you hire someone capable of balls to the walls conveyances of comedy, musicality, and sincerity if you only ever use each to approximately 40%?
The Opening Monologue
Remember when Oscar monologues were funny? Really, truly, gut-bustingly funny? You may not, because last night’s by Neil Patrick Harris made such fun feel like a figment of the distant past, never to return. Remember, if you will, every monologue Billy Crystal ever performed. Hugh Jackman singing and dancing reenactments of the Best Picture nominees (‘The Reader. I didn’t see The Reader.’) Ellen freaking DeGeneres.
But it’s not as though this year’s weren’t funny because they didn’t hire a capable host. It wasn’t Joaquin Phoenix and the Grab Bag Monologue of Weird. It was one of the most talented performers of our time, castrated and made to pander to some weird hyper-saccharine nostalgia that was revealed (as if it weren’t obvious) to be a direct attempt at ensuring the continued financial success of the industry when a trapped Harris ever-so-awkwardly began citing the opening and gross sums for some of the nominees. Poor Jack Black was used as a comedic pawn to make it seem like less of a fiscal gimme by ironically calling it out as a fiscal gimme. Where a comedic monologue usually sets the tone, Harris’ strange, tame ode to film made it feel like the In Memoriam segment had come early.
Common and John Legend’s performance and speech
Beautiful, moving, brave, and important song. Stirring, poignant performance.
Her speech was already one of the loveliest of the night, and then she got political. As Harry Belafonte quoted Paul Robeson in his Governors Awards speech, “‘Artists are the radical voice of civilization.’ Each and every one of you in this room, with your gift and power and skills, could perhaps change the way in which our global humanity mistrusts itself. Perhaps we as artists and visionaries for what’s better in the human heart and the human soul could influence citizens everywhere in the world to see the better side of who and what we are as a species.”
Meryl Streep’s Reaction to Patricia Arquette
Edge of her seat, punching the air. Yes.
Meryl Streep’s In Memoriam Introduction
Are we sure she’s real? If so, we’re all on board for the first human cloning experiment, right?
She exists, and we are all so lucky. Is someone out there writing a buddy comedy starring her and Meryl right now? If not, email me. We’ve got work to do.
Everything about Eddie Redmayne’s win. His sincerity, his eloquence, his unchecked joy, and the way he kissed his new wife.
No one cared what was in the box. Especially after they found out what was actually in the box.
Michael Keaton’s Hilarious Moment of Self-Relfective Awareness
‘Let’s be honest, I’m just happy to be here.’
Julianne Moore’s husband of 12 years helping her to the stage after her win, and taking her picture on his phone during her speech.