Even Neil Patrick Harris was getting bored around 11:30 last night, with many awards to go and probably a few more one-liners to boot. And what a shame that was, especially seeing as the 87th installment of this overblown awards ceremony started so grandiose, only to fall to a rushed finales. Social media abounded with signs of fatigue with the procedure, most folks just waiting to hear the verdict and crash into slumber.
But, as said before, it started well. Although Hollywood was being doused with rain (as a Bostonian, I particularly enjoyed this), the red carpet was brimming with stars, a veritable “traffic jam of famous people,” according to Emma Stone. Lady Gaga in particular was scary but ravishing in a dress that was a mix of a warped child’s geometric nightmares and diamonds. Everyone was expecting a dazzling performance by NPH himself.
And did he ever deliver. Harris, known now for hosting every big awards ceremony better than Hugh Jackman, put on a damn fine tribute to film, accompanied by the uncomfortably gorgeous and talented Anna Kendrick, then interrupted by none other than Jack Black. The musical number was, with a few exceptions, as exciting as the event got, though.
Early on in the show, Harris forced Octavia Spencer to guard a briefcase filled with his Oscar predictions, which was a decent gag, but not worth the run time lost. Some social media people commented, rather harshly, that this was a nod to how whitewashed the ceremony was, which of course holds a grain of truth, seeing as the first words out of Harris’s mouth constituted a joke about that very subject. Later, Common and John Legend would steal the show with a live version of “Glory” from Selma, and as such social media would spend a whole few minutes (years in the Twitter verse) babbling about the implications.
On a lighter and more awesome note, Tegan and Sara, along with the silly dudes from Lonely Island, brought down the house with a cameo heavy “Everything is Awesome” from The Lego Movie. It was a weird musical choice, but one of the best parts of the whole Oscars. Mostly because there were appearances by Batman and the one and only Questlove. Pity that The Lego Movie was nominated for zero things.
Speaking of music, because a film awards ceremony needs a ton of it, the biggest surprise of the evening was Lady Gaga nailing a few numbers from The Sound of Music. Julie Andrews herself came onstage to pay tribute to the pop icon, which was a highlight indeed.
However, there was that little snafu regarding the whole In Memoriam bit. Everyone’s favorite fake nanny and community college psychology professor Robin Williams had his face on the big screen of tribute paying, while Joan Rivers didn’t appear. Twitter practically exploded a few microseconds later, which was an albeit unpleasant reprieve from a painfully stretched out television event. By now many news outlets have shed light on the subject.
Also, in a feat of poor scheduling, the behind the scenes folks kept trying to play off winners making speeches, which only got funnier and sadder as the Oscars trudged on. I’m pretty certain a good deal was cut from what the producers envisioned to be a sterling finale to the event. At least Harris got to reveal his Oscar predictions; the case did not contain Marsellus Wallace’s soul, but humorous nods to John Travolta weirdly touching Idina Menzel’s face at one point and Terrence Howard getting very, very emotional onstage. So now we know one of two things: NPH is a wizard, or the entirety of the show is scripted down to individual tears and stutters. I’m going to go with the former, just because I’m a believer.
Overall, an unduly overdrawn ceremony, with a peppering of razzle-dazzle and a few really moving speeches. Let’s take a look at the winners, and a little more commentary on whether or not these winners were deserving.
Best Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons for Whiplash [damn right, the man was terrifying]
Costume Design: Milena Canonero for The Grand Budapest Hotel
Makeup and Hairstyling: Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier for The Grand Budapest Hotel [a deserved double win for a detailed, perfected look]
Foreign Language Film: Ida (Poland)
Live Action Short Film: The Phone Call by Mat Kirkby and James Lucas
Documentary Short Subject: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 by Ellen Goosenberg Kent and Dana Perry
Sound Mixing: Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley for Whiplash [drums hardly sound that good on most records]
Sound Editing: Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman for American Sniper [even though Interstellar should have won it by far; war is more interesting than the sounds of bending space time?]
Actress in a Supporting Role: Patricia Arquette in Boyhood [most deserved award of the night, the movie’s really about her anyway]
Achievement in Visual Effects: Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher for Interstellar [Neil DeGrasse Tyson would be proud]
Animated Short Film: Feast by Patrick Osborne and Kristina Reed
Animated Feature Film: Big Hero 6 byDon Hall, Chris Williams and Roy Conli
Production Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel by Adam Stockhausen (production design) and Anna Pinnock (set decoration)
Achievement in Cinematography:Emmanuel Lubezki for Birdman [one shot to rule them all, and in the darkness… win an Oscar]
Achievement in Film Editing: Tom Cross for Whiplash
Documentary Feature: Citizenfour by Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy and Dirk Wilutzky
Original Song: “Glory” by John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn [David Oyelowo cried during the live version of the tune]
Original Score: Alexandre Desplat for The Grand Budapest Hotel [should have gone to Hans Zimmer for his space opera madness]
Original Screenplay: Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr., and Armando Bo for Birdman [there were no other contenders, really]
Adapted Screenplay: Graham Moore for The Imitation Game [Moore said, “stay weird, stay different,” the best part of any speech]
Achievement in Directing: Alejandro G. Iñárritu for Birdman [because he allegedly wore Michael Keaton’s tighty whities]
Actor in a Leading Role: Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything [how can you not be moved by this performance?]
Actress in a Leading Role: Julianne Moore for Still Alice [finally, she’s an Oscar winner]
BEST PICTURE: Birdman [it was weird that Sean Penn said, “Who gave this son of a bitch his green card?” about Iñárritu]
My only point of contention on the whole thing? Besides the fact that The Grand Budapest Hotel didn’t win every single award, I believe Under the Skin was an overlooked masterpiece, for not only a beautifully minimalist and emotional story, but also a striking combination of the Scottish highlands and Scarlett Johansson’s naked body. It’s because it was technically science fiction, wasn’t it? Well, can’t include everyone, can you, the Oscars? Feast on that, the entire Internet for the next few days until people remember that there’s a world outside television spectaculars facilitated by Doogie Howser.