In what has been one of the lowest years for the movie industry in the past decade, the 2015 Academy Awards made it interesting with its myriad of controversies surrounding the nominees. Streamed live from HBO on Sunday night (Monday morning, 9.30am Singapore time), Hollywood stars were not the only glitzy ones in the Dolby Digital Theatre as the theater itself was decorated with 95,000 Swarovski crystals including a closedown wall that had 22,200 of it. The 87th Academy Awards had comedian Neil Patrick Harris as its host for the very first time.
First, some backstory in the context of local cinemas – of all the nominees for Best Picture (aka “best movie” of the year), the only film that hasn’t been shown here is Selma. But even though the rest of the films have been released, it was the lack of publicity that made them relatively unheard of among Singaporeans. This translates to lower viewership numbers here and elsewhere, which also reduces the public’s interest in the Oscars, and gives us less reason to watch it.
The nominations initially raised eyebrows, mostly in the acting categories, as all four were fully filled with Caucasians and absolutely zero African-American actors. As discussions settled in on the Academy’s apparent failure to recognise racial equality, other debates began to surface.
The screenplay for Whiplash (written by Damien Chazelle) was an original work, yet it was classified and accepted by the Academy as an adapted screenplay. Other snubs included Jake Gyllenhaal’s deserving performance in Nightcrawler as a psychopath, Interstellar for Best Picture and The Lego Movie for Best Animated Feature, which instead saw Big Hero 6 emerging triumphant in that category.
The awards show saw John Legend and Common perform “Glory”, the tune that later won Best Original Song, with the duo addressing the state of racial equality in the US after. Other performances included Adam Levine & Maroon 5 singing “Lost Stars” from Begin Again, and “Everything is Awesome” from The Lego Movie, which made the Oscars all the more awesome.
The Academy also celebrated the 50th anniversary of 1965 musical The Sound of Music, which had a medley of its songs performed by the head-scratching pop star Lady Gaga. In a sweet surprise, Julie Andrews subsequently shared the stage with Gaga and presented the Oscar for Best Original Score to Alexandre Desplat for The Grand Budapest Hotel. Desplat has been nominated 8 times, and twice this year in the same category.
The most poignant moments of the night were the acceptance speeches, in which Graham Moore, winner of Best Adapted Screenplay for The Imitation Game, revealed that he had wanted to kill himself at age 16. Patricia Arquette, winner of Best Supporting Actress for Boyhood, publicly advocated the need for ‘equal rights for women’ that saw loud cheers of support from the likes of Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez.
Last but not least, the Academy saw the victories of Birdman snagging awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography – the first of which was won by Alejandro González Iñárritu, whom is the second consecutive Mexican to win for Directing, and the last of which was won by Emmanuel Lubezki for his second consecutive Oscar.
Personally, Birdman did not sit too well with me, even though it was no doubt a technical achievement by all means. I would have given that Oscar to Boyhood, an amazing film that took an incredible 12 years to film and make, and solely deserved that award for that very reason.
Anyway, here are the main results of the big night:
Best Picture – Birdman
Best Actor – Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything
Best Actress – Julianne Moore for Still Alice
Best Director – Alejandro González Iñárritu for Birdman
Best Original Screenplay – Birdman
See here for the rest of the results.