By Benjamin Lucas
Last Sunday, the 87th annual Academy Awards ceremony saw Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” take home the prestigious Best Picture statue. Inarritu’s film also scooped up Best Director, Original Screenplay and Cinematography on the way, with Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” sweeping the Costume and Set Design categories.
Hosted this year by the magic-savvy Neil Patrick Harris, the Oscars found a collection of modest indie films in the running, including the highly kinetic “Whiplash” (winner of Best Editing) and the decades-spanning “Boyhood.” “American Sniper,” the highest-grossing film in the running, only managing a Best Sound Editing nod, despite Bradley Cooper’s well-regarded portrayal of Chris Kyle and the legacy of its director.
One of the night’s biggest surprises came with the announcement of relative newcomer Eddie Redmayne’s win for Best Actor, for portraying Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything,” and the snub of Michael Keaton’s disgruntled turn in “Birdman.” Redmayne was later praised by Hawking himself, and dedicated his award to people suffering from ALS in a humble acceptance speech.
Meanwhile, Julianne Moore picked up Best Actress for her heart-wrenching descent into Alzheimer’s in the understated “Still Alice.” In the wake of co-director Richard Glatzer’s ALS diagnosis and the aforementioned discussions of debilitating illness, the ceremony adopted an air of melancholy.
While “Birdman” took Best Original Screenplay, Graham Moore’s screenwriting feature film debut, “The Imitation Game,” won Best Adapted Screenplay, from Andrew Hodge’s book “Alan Turing: The Enigma” — the second time Hodge’s book has been adapted for the screen, after 1996’s television event “Breaking the Code.” On the subject of computer espionage, “Citizenfour,” the Edward Snowden film, won Best Documentary.
John Legend and Common performed “Glory” to thunderous applause and picked up Best Original Song, beating out “Lego Movie” crowd-pleaser “Everything is Awesome.” While the ending of “Gone Girl” may have been spoiled for everyone, their performance remains untarnished.
Afterwards, Patricia Arquette and J.K. Simmons dominated the Best Supporting Actor/Actress categories for their roles in “Boyhood” and “Whiplash,” respectively.
Finally, “Ida” became the first Polish film to win Best Foreign Language Film. While this is an impressive feat on its own, director Pawel Pawlikowski’s immensely personal acceptance speech achieved the impossible: He kept the Academy from playing him off.