Academy Awards, Alejandro Iñárritu, American Sniper, Ava Duvernay, Big Hero 6, Birdman, Boyhood, Bradley Cooper, Common, Eddie Redmayne, Emma Stone, film, Graham Moore, Ida, J.K. Simmons, Jack Black, Jake Gyllenhaal, John Legend, Julianne Moore, Lady Gaga, Martin Luther King, Neil Patrick Harris, Oscars, Patricia Arquette, Pawel Pawlikowski, Ralph Fiennes, Richard Linklater, Rosamund Pike, Selma, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, The Lego Movie, The Tale of Princess Kaguya, The Theory of Everything, Tom Cross, Wes Anderson, Whiplash
After three years of watching the Oscars live, this year I couldn’t due to ridiculous technical problems. But instead of giving in to this moment of defeat, I decided to experience the Oscars in a radically different way this year: follow Twitter. That seems tedious, to follow a four-hour ceremony by continuously refreshing a timeline of tweets and retweets but I went for it. And it was less tragic and actually rather rewarding as an overall experience. Of course there was the disappointment of not watching any of the live performances but it’s a truly incredible thing how I managed to keep up with every single win and pun only through 140 characters at a time. And throughout this post, I’ll be giving you a taste of that awesome experience via some of the best Oscar tweets I read. Starting with this one.
A month ago when the Academy announced its nominations for this year’s awards, I was pissed off. Not only was Jake Gyllenhaal and Ralph Fiennes snubbed for the likes of Bradley Cooper – who in all honestly wasn’t extraordinary in that film – but The Lego Movie was completely shut out from the Best Animated Feature category. Not to mention the travesty that is American Sniper reaping six nominations including Best Picture. It was not a good start between the Academy and I and that’s why I intentionally lowered my expectations before the ceremony because I knew the Academy would probably fuck it up. Surprisingly, it did not. I was kind of disappointed that I wasn’t disappointed.
The locked-in wins for the acting categories were fair enough, although I would’ve loved if Rosamund Pike (or Marion Cotillard) won for her outstanding performance in Gone Girl but of course, recognition of Julianne Moore’s work was long overdue. And that’s something that really infuriates me. Awards should be given for the right reasons not at the wrong time. The entire world knows Julianne Moore deserves an Oscar, it’s outrageous she hasn’t won one till yesterday, but she was getting it for the wrong film. Still Alice is an adequate portrayal of struggling with Alzheimer’s and Moore did a great job but I don’t think it was Oscar worthy. On the other hand, Rosamund Pike challenged and completely transformed herself and her career as Amy Dunne. Gone Girl is a real game changer for her and she blew our minds away.
Nevertheless, Redmayne, Moore, Simmons, and Arquette are all expected yet deserved wins and that was fine. The real surprise wins were in the other categories.
Best Editing: Whiplash — beating American Sniper and Boyhood
Best Director: Alejandro Iñárritu — beating Richard Linklater
Best Picture: Birdman — beating American Sniper, Boyhood, and The Grand Budapest Hotel
Those three categories were the ones that I expected to be the source of major upsets. Don’t get me wrong, I’m beyond happy that it turned out that way – this is how I personally would’ve voted but for a film like American Sniper, one that broke box office records, it was unexpected when it went home with only a single win (Best Sound Editing). And Boyhood. Boyhood is a strong contestant that reaped many awards prior to the Oscars, among which was Best Director at the Spirit Independent Awards and the Golden Globes, yet it only went home with its single win in the Best Supporting Actress category. Many were looking forward to seeing Linklater on stage accepting Best Director or Best Picture or at least Best Editing but it was only Patricia Arquette who represented the film on stage. Although a surprise, in my opinion I would pick Birdman over Boyhood anytime. I understand that Boyhood is a breakthrough achievement of dedication but I wasn’t convinced that it’s a film, only a social commentary on the dynamics of family and society. So I was actually content with how the wins turned out in the Best Director and Best Picture categories.
The one major surprise – although a good one – was Best Editing going for Whiplash. I remember the first time I watched the film I was in absolute awe of the performances but more so of the editing. I was really hoping Tom Cross would snatch the gold statue for Best Editing because he really deserved it – and he did. Why was it surprising? Well because a film like Boyhood where the editing process involved working with 12 years of raw footage was one of the fellow nominees and almost all critics guaranteed it would win. I know I should feel bad for not supporting Boyhood enough but as a film, Whiplash reigned over me in a way that I don’t really care if Linklater goes home empty-handed. Sorry not sorry.
Of course Emmanuel Lubezki won for his flawless cinematography in Birdman. He’s the king.
“Everything is Awesome” is an awesome song, no doubt, but there’s nothing like “Glory.” Selma‘s Best Original Song victory was a well-deserved win for John Legend, Common, Ava Duvernay, and Martin Luther King. Not to mention that the live performance was THE best among the other mild and barely entertaining ones (yes, including Lady Gaga’s Sound of Music tribute, it was great but “Glory” surpasses it for sure.)
Although I only saw four out of the five nominees for the Best Animated Feature category, I was rooting for The Tale of Princess Kaguya anyways because it’s such a gorgeous and fierce films unlike the mass-produced animation we watch every day. Was I upset Big Hero 6 won? Not particularly. I enjoyed the film and emotionally connected to it so I couldn’t really hate on its win. But I would’ve been more satisfied if Kaguya had won. And if not Kaguya, then The Boxtrolls – another marvelous film.
What I also really liked about the wins this year is that Wes Anderson finally got the credit he’s due for his masterpiece — his vision. I loved how The Grand Budapest Hotel won four awards in technical categories, ones that make Anderson’s art what it is: Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Hair and Make-Up, and Best Original Score. These elements are uniquely employed by Anderson to craft wonderful weirdness unlike anything we ever see.
So was I happy by the end of the night? Certainly. Although the Academy played it safe and every Best Picture nominee managed to win at least one award (The Imitation Game took Best Adapted Screenplay and Graham Moore’s acceptance speech is brilliant and endearing; Redmayne took home Oscar gold for Best Leading Actor for his Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything) but that’s all irrelevant because my favorite and second favorite categories (Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography, respectively) went to my favorite Best Picture nominee (Birdman). Whiplash won Best Editing – truly the highlight of the entire show. That and Jack Black’s part in the opening ceremony.
Moreover, the acceptance speeches this year were something else! Starting with J.K. Simmons’ “call your mom,” to Patricia Arquette’s stand for wage equality for women, to Legend and Common’s powerful advocacy for African American rights. Too political? Just remember how Ida‘s director, Pawel Pawlikowski beat the orchestra’s music TWICE just to finish his speech. You go, man!
Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel tied with a total of four wins each and when two artistic films like these win top honors at the Oscars, you know there’s still hope in the world. And in the Academy.