And The Oscar Goes To…

OSCARS!

Isn’t this all that really matters?

The day after the Oscars is always a bit of a sad one.

First of all, it is (and always will be) a Monday, a.k.a. work doldrums at an all-time high.

Second, a lot of time, energy, and expectation gets funneled into what will inevitably be a relatively slow-paced reveal…of exactly what you expected. Dealing with that realization year after year doesn’t make it any less melancholy.

And third, you realize that in all likelihood it will be several months until you see any movies likely to be nominated for Oscars next year (though I am holding out hope for Paddington and Kenneth Branagh’s new Cinderella adaptation—which is kind of perfect—to receive some craft awards).

Still, it is worth recapping the evening and unearthing the gems, of which there were many this year! Political speeches, Julianne Moore’s inevitable but oh-so-satisfying triumph, two outstanding performances, and other fun awaits…

Celebrity Shenanigans:

Let’s start with Dakota Johnson (who plays Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey, which I may or may not review here but actually quite enjoyed) having a tiff with mom Melanie Griffith when she says she won’t see her daughter’s new movie. It’s such a real moment, and obviously awkward, but it makes me laugh. Are you on Melanie or Dakota’s side?

Now, check out this hilarious clip of Oprah seemingly running scared from Lady Gaga. It gets better and better the more times you watch.

I’m sure a lot of people were too creeped out to appreciate it, but the moment between John Travolta and Idina Menzel was just TOO good. She was hilarious, he was strange, they both made fun of themselves: it’s really just perfection. Also, his weird chain/tie thing is great.


Best Speeches of the Night:

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Things got off to a bang-up start with J.K. Simmons’ very sweet, parent-oriented speech after winning best supporting actor for Whiplash. Short and to the point, he encouraged everyone to thank their parents not via text, not through email, but on the phone.

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There’s no way I could possibly ignore my favorite award of the night, Julianne Moore’s long overdue best actress win for Still Alice. The red-haired beauty was gracious, poised, and seemingly overjoyed. Better yet, she used the opportunity as a platform to speak not only about Alzheimer’s disease, but also the disease afflicting one of the film’s co-directors, ALS. (Bonus points for her super hunky husband’s caught-on-camera iPhone picture taking!)

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No, this is not Patricia Arquette. Yes, this is the best part of her acceptance speech.

Oh, Patricia Arquette! I was not thrilled about this inevitable win, but she certainly improved upon her speech-giving skills for the last go-around. What started out as an off-the-paper list of names morphed into an impassioned call for equal pay for women around the world (the overwhelmingly positive sentiment for which has since been stymied by her somewhat off-color remarks backstage). The best part of her speech? Getting to watch Meryl Streep and J. Lo feed off each other’s energy as they point and clap. Who seated them next to each other?!

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One of the least talked about speeches of the night happened to be one of my favorites. Alejandro G. Iñárritu was more than deserving of the best director prize for Birdman and gave a gracious and funny speech to boot. “Tonight, I’m wearing the actual Michael Keaton tighty-whity’s,” he started, referencing the underwear that Keaton’s character spends much of the runtime prancing about in. “Smell likes balls,” he said, flubbing a line from his own film. “Talking about that little prick called ego,” he continued. “Ego loves competition, because for someone to win, someone has to lose. But the paradox is that true art, true individual expression, like all the work of these incredible fellow filmmakers, can’t be compared, can’t be labeled, can’t be defeated because it exists. And our work will be judged, as always, by time.” A beautiful sentiment capped off by a final tribute to his fellow Mexican filmmakers, including last year’s best director winner Alfonso Cuaron. 

Oprah: My favorite fairy godmother!

Oprah: My favorite fairy godmother!

The award for the most unabashedly real speech of the night goes to Graham Moore, who won the best adapted screenplay prize for The Imitation Game. Moore started off giddy and strong: “Thank you so much to the Academy…and to Oprah!” He continued: “Here’s the thing, Alan Turing never got to stand up on stage like this and look out at all of these disconcertingly attractive faces. And I do. And that’s the most unfair I think I’ve ever heard, so in this brief time here, I want to say this. When I was 16 years old, I tried to kill myself because I felt weird, and I felt different, and I felt like I did not belong. And now I’m standing here. So, I would like for this moment to be for that kid our there who feels like she’s weird, or she’s different, or she doesn’t fit in anywhere. Yes you do, I promise you do. Stay weird, stay different, and then when it’s your turn and you are standing on this stage, please pass the same message to the next person who comes along. Thank you so much!” Heart strings officially tugged!

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Finally, for my money, the best speech of the night: Common and John Legend accepting the prize for best original song (“Glory” from Selma). Not only was it one of the most resoundingly deserved awards of the season, it was backed up by a stunning performance (more on that in a second) and this eloquent, deeply moving speech. Common took the mic first and spoke about the Edmund Pettus Bridge, a location of several intense civil rights battles featured in the film: “This bridge was once a landmark of a divided nation, but now is a symbol for a change. The spirit of this bridge transcends rage, gender, religion, sexual orientation and social status…This bridge was built on hope, welded with compassion, and elevated with love for all human beings.” Then Legend stepped up to talk about how “Glory” and Selma reflect the times we live in: “We say that Selma is now because the struggle for justice is right now. We know that the voting rights act is being compromised right now. We live in the most incarcerated country in the world; there are more black men under correctional control today than there were under slavery in 1850. When people are marching with our song, we want to tell you we are with you, we see you, we love you, and march on.” Powerful stuff, y’all—with this speech they showed anyone who believes poor race relations and police violence are a thing of the past that they could not be more wrong. Hallelujah!


Stellar Performances:

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Let’s just jump right in with Common and John Legend. After the four other nominees for best original song were performed (and left relatively little impression, though “Everything Is Awesome” was fun) the inevitable winner, “Glory,” still hadn’t gotten its moment in the limelight. Suddenly a recreation of the Edmund Pettus Bridge dominated the stage, John Legend’s gorgeous voice started crooning, and Common’s powerful, time traveling rap began to fill the theater. Add one big ass gospel choir singing back-up and you’ve got a truly phenomenal performance. It’s no wonder so many in attendance were in tears: sure, we make fun of Chris Pine’s single tear, but I imagine seeing this in person, especially the a capella finale, would be incredibly powerful. I was so happy to see my favorite film of the year receive a standing ovation and a well-deserved prize.

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The other superb musical moment of the night came from an unlikely source: Lady Gaga. One doesn’t automatically think of the Mother Monster when one hears The Sound of Music, but the pop singer performed the shit out of a beautiful medley from the 50-year-old classic. I’ve always admired Gaga’s better-than-average vocal stylings, but she surpassed my wildest expectations here with a playful (but not crazy) rendition of “My Favorite Things,” a soulful, melodic moment of “Edelweiss,” and a powerhouse “Climb Ev’ry Mountain.” A true diva moment, and the one part of the Oscar telecast that will surely be talked about come next year!

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Finally, a slightly controversial choice: Jennifer Hudson’s in memoriam rendition of “I Can’t Let Go.” Detractors will say that the song should have been sung during the montage itself; the show doesn’t need the added length, and this portion of it can get bogged down for obvious reasons. I agree with that criticism, but I still think that J. Hud sang beautifully as always and deserves to be recognized. The sentiment was in the right place, her voice was perfection on steroids, and the number featured her best acting since Dreamgirls (that’s a compliment, I swear). And that fade out! Ugh. Sing out, Jennifer! I can’t wait to see you in “The Color Purple” on Broadway…


Alright, that’s it for now. I promise! Those are my favorite moments of the 87th Annual Academy Awards, and by that I mean the good moments. There was plenty of bad to go around, too—NPH was horribly disappointing but then, so was the writing—and maybe I will do a post about it (if I ever have the energy).

I will highlight the only two awards I was genuinely disappointed about: best actor and best animated film. As I mentioned in my predictions post, I never really could’ve been happy with the best actor outcome, though I would have preferred Michael Keaton over Eddie Redmayne (whose speech was just lovely). As for the animated feature category, I am extremely f*cking disappointed. How Big Hero 6 showed up How to Train Your Dragon 2 will forever be a mystery to me (cough Disney monopoly cough), but I sit comfortably knowing that it was one of the biggest, and by most people’s accounts most unpleasant, shocks of the night.

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3 thoughts on “And The Oscar Goes To…

  1. I ALWAYS like what you write Joe. Maybe I don’t always agree (but mostly I do) but you have a terrific perspective and a “very you” way of stating it. I’ve passed this blog along to others who are enjoying it as well. Kudos. You’ll find that as you get older, years get shorter….which is mostly a bad thing….but the good thing for you, is that the Oscars will be here again, before you know it!!

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  2. Okay, Joe. Here are my thoughts about this year’s Oscars. As usual, it was mostly a dull affair and I’m left as I am every year wondering why I like watching them so much. I agree with you about the best speeches, especially Innaritu and Graham Moore (loved that he added, “stay weird” instead of saying that you’ll grow up, be “normal,” etc.). I was disappointed that Redmayne won (was pulling for Keaton) but he did give a sweet, endearing acceptance speech. I liked when he giggled and did a little jig–very spontaneous and genuine. I also was disappointed that Boyhood didn’t win Best Picture or Director, although Innaritu’s speech about ego was worth it and was some consolation. Can’t say that I agree with you about Lady Gaga’s “Sound of Music” medley. Her voice was fine but it was so bizarre and dull at the same time. Neil Patrick Harris was mostly dull although I liked his line about “It takes balls to wear a dress like that.” Thanks for an entertaining post, Joe.

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  3. Pingback: The Year Ahead: Films To Look Forward To In 2015 | I Wish I Knew How To Quit Film

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