BIRDMAN WINS THE OSCAR

The 87th Academy Awards took place on Sunday, February 22.

Oscar predictions

For what was called the “most unpredictable Oscar race for Best Picture I’ve ever seen,” this year’s Oscars sure did seem to pan out the way that they were expected to. Birdman followed its SAG-PGA-DGA triple crown to win Best Director and Best Picture, nabbing screenplay and cinematography along the way for good measure. (Sure Boyhood won BAFTA and no film has won Best Picture without an editing nomination for three decades, but statistics are made to be updated. The movie most cited in critics’ lists was left with just a win in Best Supporting Actress. Even The Social Network won three.)

For the first time since 2008 (and the first time since they expanded past five nominees), all nominees for Best Picture won at least one award. The Grand Budapest Hotel took home a number of below-the-line categories, but the Academy sought fit to award four teams that thanked Wes Anderson rather than Wes Anderson himself. (To be fair, he is 45 years old and creepy. Commentary from my fellow Oscar watchers included, “He looks exactly like how you’d expect him to look” and “He looks like a long-lost Weasley.”) Whiplash won three, including a surprise win in editing. (That, for those keeping track, was the beginning of the end of Boyhood.) Most importantly, Big Hero 6 emerged victorious over the overrated How To Train Your Dragon 2.

I got 15/20 major categories right on my Kroll Poll. Not enough to win (results coming out soon for those who participated) but enough to beat the greyhounds. I was a bit grumpy at the end of the Oscars because I was rooting hard for Boyhood over Birdman, because I regretted-and-didn’t-regret choosing Linklater for director and because months and months of research were culminating in a three-hour ceremony. But all in all, it was a great night. Sure, the ratings fell to a six-year low (that’s what happens when you don’t nominate big movies), but I had fun. Highlights below:

Highlights from the show

  • Neil Patrick Harris: The host started the ceremony with a musical opening number called “Moving Pictures,” including a joyful Anna Kendrick spoiling the movie Gone Girl, and had a number of great quips throughout the night.(“Welcome back to the Oscars, or as I like to think of them, the Dependent Spirit Awards,” “You know, some of the movie titles this year confuse me—like How to Train Your Dragon 2. That title basically admits that the first movie did an insufficient job of teaching people how to train their dragons,” “Benedict Cumberbatch is not only the most awesome name in show business, it’s also the sound you get when you ask John Travolta to pronounce ‘Ben Affleck.'”)
  • The Lego Movie: Tegan and Sara & The Lonely Island performed “Everything is Awesome” in one of the highlights of the night. They gave a number of the nominees Lego Oscars, including Emma Stone (who posed with it all night), Oprah (who made an incredible face) and Meryl Streep (who apparently “was so reluctant to accept her LEGO Oscar…that the dancer with it almost didn’t make it back to the stage in time.”).
  • Poland: Ida won Best Foreign Language Film, Poland’s tenth nomination but first win. Director Pawel Pawlikowski celebrated the occasion by refusing the leave the stage. The music began, swelled and ended when the orchestra realized that the Polish guy would just not stop talking.
  • Sorry, what? Lady Gaga performed a medley of songs to honor the 50th anniversary of The Sound of Music. It was surprisingly good.

Not-so-highlights from the show

  • Sadness: Feeling too happy? Watch Michael Keaton putting away his Oscar speech.
  • Breathing: Someone actually made a cut of all of the breathing at the Oscars. It’s as weird as you can imagine.

Red carpet

I don’t have many opinions about this year’s red carpet fashion. Luckily, Entertainment Weekly’s “fashion expert Nina Terrero” and “fashion anti-expert Darren Franich” have mean things to say about everyone. I especially like Franich’s comments about Naomi Watt’s (slide17): “I enjoy pianos too, Naomi. But I don’t wear pianos.”
Curious what underwear the celebrities are wearing? They choose Commando, “a line of undergarments that bills itself as ‘invisible underwear’ by using a stretch fabric in place of an elastic band to create a smooth silhouette.” Thanks New York Times!

Spotlight on Patricia Arquette controversy

Patricia Arquette won Best Supporting Actress on Sunday for her excellent performance in Boyhood. She used her speech to call for gender equality. Clearly, she is a racist.

Slate’s Amanda Marcotte at least thought so. She called the speech “jumbled and shallow—ninth-grade debate club debut-ish.” Her main issue was what Arquette said backstage: “And it’s time for all the women in America and all the men that love women, and all the gay people, and all the people of color that we’ve all fought for to fight for us now.”

“Where to begin?” Marcotte lamented. “Perhaps with pointing out that ‘gay people’ and ‘people of color’ are both categories that include women…It is definitely not time for ‘all the gay people’ and ‘all the people of color’ to set aside their own battle for equality in order to fight for straight, white women now. Arquette’s comments also erased the major contributions made by women of color and lesbians to the feminist movement, as if they haven’t been fighting all this time…Arquette’s political grandstanding played into every ugly stereotype about ‘feminism’ being about little more than some privileged white women trying to become more privileged. Her comments were bad for the cause of equal pay and for feminism. Solidarity is not just for white women.”

This is preposterous. Other people have explained why more in depth, but I think that saying that everyone should get together to fight for women’s rights in no way implies that racial and LGBT civil rights have been attained.

Apparently this was not all. According to Time, “The rest of the show was dull and occasionally verged on racism. On a night when the nominees were overwhelmingly white, Octavia Spencer was forced to stay in her seat and stare at a box, Sean Penn made an offensive green card joke about Iñárritu and Neil Patrick Harris managed to botch the names of both Chiwetel Ejiofor and David Oyelowo.”

One spot of good news for feminism: The Mani Cam was eliminated.

Other News

  • Honesty: The Hollywood Reporter published a number of “Brutally Honest Oscar Ballots” in the week leading up to the Academy Awards. They are one of the best insights into the minds of the people who make this all possible. And their minds are not always the sharpest. One called Benedict Cumberbatch “Cumberbuck.”
  • Jurassic Park? Deadspin published its annual Hater’s Guide to the Oscars, and it was mostly great. Highlights include it’s take on American Sniper ( SOLDIER 1: “Bro, was that the 90th baby you shot?” CHRIS KYLE: “[Super humble] Aw, shucks, I dunno.”), Birdman’s title (This movie’s subtitle can go straight to hell. Why is the or not in parentheses as well? It sounds like the proper title of the movie is supposed to be Birdman Or…You didn’t need to actively drive people away by including an impossibly pretentious alternate title.) and Laura Dern ( Are there dinosaurs in Wild? Again, here is another movie that would be radically improved if it were another movie. One with dinosaurs. And with Laura Dern looking convincingly afraid of those dinosaurs.).
  • Beginnings: Gawker dug up the earliest available clips of the various nominees’ first acting jobs. Meryl Streep’s is excellent as is the commentary. (Regarding Rosamund Pike, it said, “She was 19 when she first appeared on screen in a bit role in the BBC movie A Rather English Marriage, which seems to be about how rather boring it is to be British.)
  • Indie: The night before the Oscars, the Independent Spirit Awards gave their Best Director award to Richard Linklater. That unfortunately did not carry over to Oscar night. What did was a BirdmanWhiplash drumming segue. See here for the parody.
  • Imitation Game: Buzzfeed has a long interview with Graham Moore, the Oscar-winning screenwriter for The Imitation Game. It’s a great look into his jump from music to TV to film, the insecurities he still has about his writing and his next project (an adaptation of The Devil in the White City).
  • Diversity: The lack thereof in the acting, directing and screenplay categories is well represented in this video.
  • Vanity Fair: The New York Times digs into what happened at the annual Vanity Fair party. Highlights include Beyonce arriving, In-N-Out and Channing Tatum trying to impress Adam Levine.
  • Pie Charts: Vulture imagines the eight Oscar nominees for Best Picture as pie charts. The Grand Budapest, for example, looks as if it is about 1/7 “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, if Dev Patel had sex with Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and whoever else checked in.”
  • Mason: Vanity Fair ranks the different years in Boyhood. Their article is called “Which Mason Is the Best Mason?” I’m pretty sure we all know the answer to that.
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