Although Boyhood has been an awards season favorite in the run-up to the 2015 Academy Awards, in the end, Richard Linklater's gutsy 12-year experiment was overshadowed by another bravura piece of filmmaking, as Birdman edged it out in a tight race for Best Picture.
Texas film Boyhood had been nominated for six Oscars but wound up only winning one: Best Supporting Actress for Patricia Arquette. Birdman also won Best Director for Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography, tying The Grand Budapest Hotel for most awards of the night.
One of the few big question marks of the night, Best Actor, went to Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything. As expected, Julianne Moore won Best Actress for Still Alice, and J.K. Simmons won Best Supporting Actor for Whiplash.
Because most of the big awards were predictable, most of the excitement came from host Neil Patrick Harris, who had previously been impressive in hosting the Tony Awards and Emmy Awards multiple times. His "Moving Pictures" opener, along with other small moments throughout the program, demonstrated why he's the pro's pro when it comes to hosting awards shows.
The Grand Budapest Hotel, directed by Houston's Wes Anderson, won four awards, including Best Score, Production Design, Costume Design, and Makeup and Hair. Whiplash, which I considered the best film of the year, was the only other film to win multiple awards, winning Best Sound Mixing and Best Editing in addition to Simmons' trophy.
Best moments of the show:
- Patricia Arquette stood up for women's rights and equal pay in her acceptance speech, a popular if seemingly out-of-nowhere proclamation. It got quite the reaction, especially from Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez.
- "Glory" from Selma was the sure winner for Best Song, and John Legend and Common's performance only cemented its status. David Oyelowo, snubbed for playing Martin Luther King Jr. in the film, broke hearts by crying at the song's beauty, emotion that carried over to the powerful speech by the two singers after they won the award.
- The performance by Tegan & Sara and The Lonely Island of "Everything is Awesome" from The Lego Movie was also memorable, especially with the handing out of multiple Lego Oscars, a sly reference to a tweet by the film's co-director, Philip Lord.
- Harris re-created a great Birdman moment, coming out in just his underwear. Bonus points for featuring a drum cameo by Miles Teller, who would've been nominated for his lead role in Whiplash in a less crowded year.
- Lady Gaga performed a perfectly lovely and unexpectedly normal medley of songs from The Sound of Music.
- Eddie Redmayne was giddy and spirited during his acceptance speech, a nice antithesis to the spate of serious acceptance speeches by others.