Oscars 2015: The Best and Worst Moments From This Year’s Show
At long last, the Oscars are in the books for another year. As usual, the Academy Awards made for a night full of memorable moments, great speeches, and huge disappointments. (You deserved better, Boyhood.) Here now, the best and worst of Oscars 2015 — all the things the Oscars got right this year, and all the things they got wrong:
BEST: Lots of awards for The Grand Budapest Hotel!
When you’re not a fan of the frontrunners at the Oscars, you’ve got to steel yourself for lots of disappointment. So it was nice to see the great Grand Budapest Hotel at least take home a little love in the lesser categories, winning Best Costume Design, Best Makeup, Best Original Score, and Best Production Design. It ended the night tied for the most awards with Birdman. Of course, they never called Wes Anderson’s name, but we were prepared for that. You’ll get ’em next time, Wes.
WORST: Almost no awards for Boyhood!
Speaking of frontrunners: What the hell happened to Boyhood? A month ago, it was the presumptive favorite in all the big categories? Tonight, it won just a single award (Best Supporting Actress, Patricia Arquette). Unfortunately, it ran into the Birdman buzzsaw; Hollywood voters just couldn’t resist a film that portrays Hollywood artists as long-suffering, unappreciated geniuses.
BEST: That Selma performance.
The Oscars’ history with musical numbers is pretty (okay very) hit or miss. But John Legend and Common’s performance of “Glory” from Selma was incredible. Flanked by a chorus marching through a replica of the title city’s Edmund Pettus Bridge, they delivered a soaring, passionate rendition of their Oscar-winning song. The final a capella moments, with the chorus chanting “Glory!”, was enough to send chills up my spine. With respect to The LEGO Movie, the right song prevailed.
WORST: “It’s 11:15, We’ve got 7 awards left, but what the hell, here’s 10 minutes of The Sound of Music.”
No question, Lady Gaga has the pipes to belt out those old Julie Andrews numbers. But did we really need to grind the Oscars to a halt to watch a montage of clips from a 50 year old movie? If they can’t find room to let Hayao Miyazaki receive his Lifetime Achievement Award in person, then they shouldn’t find room for this stuff.
BEST: Neil Patrick Harris’ opening number.
We had such high hopes for Neil Patrick Harris going into his first Oscar-hosting gig. And he really delivered with a fun, clever opening number. The big highlight was Jack Black’ surprise cameo, saying (singing) all the things we like to say (sing) about Hollywood and the endless parade of sequels and remakes. It was all going so well! Until...
WORST: Neil Patrick Harris’ improvised (?) jokes.
...people started winning awards, and NPH tried to react instantly to winners. The director of the Best Documentary Short was talking about the suicide of her son, and Harris did a gag about her dress. Citizenfour won Best Documentary, he made a crack about treason. (Maybe he just shouldn’t make jokes about documentaries?) If these jokes were improvised, Harris should have stuck to the script. If these jokes were scripted, Harris should have improvised.
BEST: Tons of great speeches.
The Imitation Game’s Graham Moore revealing his own attempted suicide as a teenager and dedicating his win to the weirdos in the world who don’t feel like they fit in was an amazing moment, one that single-handedly justified him winning Best Adapted Screenplay over more deserving films like Whiplash. And the speeches were generally pretty good and politically savvy to boot, including John Legend and Common’s salute to the fighters in the ongoing struggle for civil rights and Patricia Arquette demanding equal rights and equal pay for women. When you’ve got a billion people listening, you better make those words count, and this year’s batch of winners really did.
WORST: We’re not ready to let The LEGO Movie snub go yet.
The Best Animated Movie of the year was Big Hero 6? Really? The director should have thanked the Academy for not nominating The LEGO Movie in his acceptance speech, because that was the main reason he was up there. No offense Baymax, we’re putting an asterisk next to this one.
BEST: The acting categories!
We might take issue with the top awards (like in the next paragraph) but the Oscars mostly got it right in the acting categories. J.K. Simmons and Patricia Arquette were both hugely deserving winners. The Theory of Everything wasn’t a stellar movie, but it’s hard to take issue with Eddie Redmayne’s performance—or with his winning Oscar for his incredible transformation into Stephen Hawking. So hooray! Once in a while the Oscars doesn’t screw up everything.
WORST: The Best Picture category!
And then other times they do screw everything up. Sorry, Richard Linklater. I’m sorry the Academy thought your beautiful and moving film was a “gimmick.” I guess next time you’ve got to shoot for 25 years before you release something. Maybe they’ll be impressed then.