Yes, folks, it’s that time of year again, when fashion designers get a free plug for some of their more expensive creations, when various stars generally fail to look happy for their fellow nominees when they win the coveted statuette, and when millions of us tune in to see a veritable orgy of fixed smiles, congratulatory backslapping, and a stream of actors and actresses who usually prove unable to read a teleprompter or tell poorly written jokes (and not forgetting the predictable round of halting acceptance speeches and several winners’ attempts to thank everybody and their auntie’s next door neighbour’s cat).
Hosted by first-timer Neil Patrick Harris, there was the traditional opening number celebrating the movies (and with help from Anna Kendrick and Jack Black), followed by a heartfelt speech about the power of the movies to inspire and move us. There was a fitfully amusing running gag involving Harris’s predictions locked away in a clear plastic box and being overseen by Octavia Spencer. A highlight was Harris’s “tribute” to Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) as he came from backstage in his underwear.
Meryl Streep provided a moving introduction to the In Memoriam section, and there was a tribute to The Sound of Music (now fifty years old) that featured clips from the movie and a performance by Lady Gaga that was – gasp! – actually pretty good (and received a standing ovation). And who should come out afterwards but Julie Andrews herself.
Winners in bold.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Robert Duvall – The Judge; Ethan Hawke – Boyhood; Edward Norton – Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance); Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher; J.K. Simmons – Whiplash
Not much of a surprise but definitely well deserved, Simmons’ speech was mainly a tribute to his wife and children, and parents everywhere. Presented by Lupita Nyong’o.
Best Achievement in Costume Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Milena Canonero; Inherent Vice – Mark Bridges; Into the Woods – Colleen Atwood; Maleficent – Anna B. Sheppard; Mr. Turner – Jacqueline Durran
Completely expected and Canonero’s fourth win, she was gracious and thanked Wes Anderson profusely. Presented by Jennifer Lopez and Chris Pine.
Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling
Foxcatcher – Bill Corso, Dennis Liddiard; The Grand Budapest Hotel – Frances Hannon, Mark Coulier; Guardians of the Galaxy – Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou, David White
The second win for The Grand Budapest Hotel and entirely deserved, members of the team and Wes Anderson were thanked with gratitude. Presented by Reese Witherspoon.
Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
Ida; Leviathan; Tangerines; Timbuktu; Wild Tales
Superb result and a great moment for its director, Pawel Pawlikowski, who made a witty speech and was clearly overwhelmed by it all (and was the first who overran his time… and got a big cheer for it). Presented by Chiwetel Ejiofor and Nicole Kidman.
Best Short Film, Live Action
Aya; Boogaloo and Graham; Butter Lamp; Parvaneh; The Phone Call
This award was open to all and one of the winners called Oscar a “big bugger”, and a nod to Sally Hawkins for providing her services on the movie for free – and they went over their time. Presented by Kerry Washington and Jason Bateman.
Best Documentary, Short Subject
Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1; Joanna; Our Curse; The Reaper; White Earth
Too close to call but the winner has poignancy to spare, and the winners thanked everyone involved, particularly their families. Presented by Kerry Washington and Jason Bateman.
Best Achievement in Sound Mixing
American Sniper – Alan Robert Murray, Bub Asman; Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Thomas Varga; Interstellar – Gary Rizzo, Gregg Landaker, Mark Weingarten; Unbroken – Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, David Lee; Whiplash – Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins, Thomas Curley
The second win of the evening for Whiplash in a category that could have been won by any of the nominees. Presented by Sienna Miller and Chris Evans.
Best Achievement in Sound Editing
American Sniper – Alan Robert Murray, Bub Asman; Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – Aaron Glascock, Martín Hernández; The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – Brent Burge, Jason Canovas; Interstellar – Richard King; Unbroken – Becky Sullivan, Andrew DeCristofaro
Without Whiplash as a nominee, this was almost a fait accompli, and the winners thanked everyone connected with the movie, as well as their families. Presented by Sienna Miller and Chris Evans.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Patricia Arquette – Boyhood; Laura Dern – Wild; Keira Knightley – The Imitation Game; Emma Stone – Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance); Meryl Streep – Into the Woods
One of the more predictable results of the evening, Arquette thanked a plethora of people and threw in a plea for equal rights for women in America – which got a huge round of applause. Presented by Jared Leto.
Best Achievement in Visual Effects
Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill, Daniel Sudick; Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, Erik Winquist; Guardians of the Galaxy – Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner, Paul Corbould; Interstellar – Paul J. Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter, Scott R. Fisher; X-Men: Days of Future Past – Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie, Cameron Waldbauer
Not really a surprise (though it should have gone to Dawn…), the winners thanked everyone in general and gave a special mention to Kip Thorne. Presented by Ansel Elgort and Chloë Grace Moretz.
Best Short Film, Animated
The Bigger Picture; The Dam Keeper; Feast; Me and My Moulton; A Single Life
Well deserved – it really is a great movie – and the winners were appropriately humble. Presented by Anna Kendrick and Kevin Hart.
Best Animated Feature Film of the Year
Big Hero 6; The Boxtrolls; How to Train Your Dragon 2; Song of the Sea; The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
Disney win again (without a Pixar movie in contention), but this was the best result for the category, the movie having so much heart. Presented by Zoe Saldana and Dwayne Johnson.
Best Achievement in Production Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Adam Stockhausen, Anna Pinnock; The Imitation Game – Maria Djurkovic, Tatiana Macdonald; Interstellar – Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis; Into the Woods – Dennis Gassner, Anna Pinnock; Mr. Turner – Suzie Davies, Charlotte Watts
It was either this or Mr. Turner but a good result nevertheless, and another heap of praise for Wes Anderson (and deservedly so). Presented by Chris Pratt and Felicity Jones.
Best Achievement in Cinematography
Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Everything) – Emmanuel Lubezki; The Grand Budapest Hotel – Robert D. Yeoman; Ida – Łukasz Żal, Ryszard Lenczewski; Mr. Turner – Dick Pope; Unbroken – Roger Deakins
Lubezki’s second Oscar in a row (and the first award for Birdman…) was expected but it really should have gone to Ida. Presented by Idris Elba and Jessica Chastain.
Best Achievement in Editing
American Sniper – Joel Cox, Gary Roach; Boyhood – Sandra Adair; The Grand Budapest Hotel – Barney Pilling; The Imitation Game – William Goldenberg; Whiplash – Tom Cross
As at the BAFTAs, the absolutely positively must-win choice, and an absolutely positively deserved award, and a great nod to Damien Chazelle. Presented by Naomi Watts and Benedict Cumberbatch.
Best Documentary, Feature
CITIZENFOUR; Finding Vivian Maier; Last Days in Vietnam; The Salt of the Earth; Virunga
A superb result for such a superb movie, and great to see director Laura Poitras accepting the award, and condemning the powers that be over their treatment of ordinary people. Presented by Jennifer Aniston and David Oyelowo.
Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song
Begin Again – Lost Stars (Gregg Alexander, Danielle Brisebois); Beyond the Lights – Grateful (Diane Warren); Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me – I’m Not Gonna Miss You (Glen Campbell, Julian Raymond); The Lego Movie – Everything Is Awesome (Shawn Patterson); Selma – Glory (Common, John Legend)
Maroon 5 performed Lost Stars, while there was a cast of (what seemed like) thousands led by Tegan and Sara who reaffirmed that Everything Is Awesome. Tim McGraw subbed for Glen Campbell on I’m Not Gonna Miss You, then Rita Ora sang Grateful surrounded by laser lights, and in keeping with their original collaboration, John Legend and Common performed Glory against the backdrop of the Edmund Pettus Bridge (though Common’s hand gestures were a little too distracting). And Glory received a standing ovation, with many in the audience in tears.
Pretty much the only choice and Common gave an impassioned speech about democracy that revolved around the Edmund Pettus Bridge, while Legend reiterated the need for freedom and justice and continued voting rights. Presented by Idina Menzel and John Travolta.
Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Alexandre Desplat; The Imitation Game – Alexandre Desplat; Interstellar – Hans Zimmer; Mr. Turner – Gary Yershon; The Theory of Everything – Jóhann Jóhannsson
With Desplat finally winning an Oscar (and seeing off the challenge from himself), this was a great result and Desplat was a gracious winner. Presented by Julie Andrews.
Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo; Boyhood – Richard Linklater; Foxcatcher – E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman; The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson, Hugo Guinness; Nightcrawler – Dan Gilroy
The movie’s second win and highly regarded, though not as cut and dried a result as it seemed. Iñárritu gave a bit of a rambling speech but it was heartfelt and didn’t go on for too long. Presented by Eddie Murphy.
Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
American Sniper – Jason Hall; The Imitation Game – Graham Moore; Inherent Vice – Paul Thomas Anderson; The Theory of Everything – Anthony McCarten; Whiplash – Damien Chazelle
An unexpected result given Moore’s “treatment” of Turing’s life, the writer gave an awkward speech that mentioned his attempted suicide at sixteen and some life-affirming sentiments – but he still got some of the audience to stand and applaud him. Presented by Oprah Winfrey.
Best Achievement in Directing
Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel; Alejandro González Iñárritu – Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance); Richard Linklater – Boyhood; Bennett Miller – Foxcatcher; Morten Tyldum – The Imitation Game
As the tide swung in Birdman‘s direction (excuse the pun), Iñárritu gave an initially humorous speech that evolved into an expression of the effort that artists put into their work, and then into a big Thank You to everyone connected to the movie. Presented by Ben Affleck.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Steve Carell – Foxcatcher; Bradley Cooper – American Sniper; Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game; Michael Keaton – Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance); Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything
Despite the growing possibility that Michael Keaton would take the Oscar, this was a great result that saw Redmayne overjoyed by his win and giving praise to everyone in sight. Presented by Cate Blanchett.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Marion Cotillard – Two Days, One Night; Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything; Julianne Moore – Still Alice; Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl; Reese Witherspoon – Wild
As with the BAFTAs Moore won but both Jones and Cotillard gave better performances. However, her speech acknowledged her co-nominees, and then she thanked pretty much everyone connected with the movie, before mentioning Alzheimer’s and thanking her family. Presented by Matthew McConaughey.
Best Motion Picture of the Year
American Sniper; Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance); Boyhood; The Grand Budapest Hotel; The Imitation Game; Selma; The Theory of Everything; Whiplash
Iñárritu got everyone associated with the movie to come up on stage, and found even more people to thank, including Keaton who briefly showed how grateful he was to be there, before Iñárritu rounded things off by making a short political speech about Mexican immigration. Presented by Sean Penn.
And so it was a tie between Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Everything) and The Grand Budapest Hotel with four wins each. With a few unexpected results amid all the predictable ones. The show as a whole became less and less interesting as it went on and Harris’s initial enthusiasm seemed to waver until even some of his jokes weren’t getting a laugh (though his predictions provided some amusement, even if they arrived too late). And the most valuable award of the evening? The Lego Oscars of course.