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Oscar Watching: Looking Back at the 87th Annual Academy Awards

So, the Oscars last night…

By most accounts, host Neil Patrick Harris crashed and burned. His offensive attempts at humor already make Seth MacFarlane‘s infamous hosting gig seem as whimsical as The Grand Budapest Hotel, and sting worse than his Reese Witherspoon joke. That’s saying something. But at least his gag involving Birdman and Whiplash worked for more reasons than one, and that opening musical sequence was cute, too.

Oddly, the ceremony’s musical performances turned out to be highlights of the evening, not opportunities to exchange awkward glances with the folks at your Oscar party and ask, “Why are they at the Oscars?” Jennifer Hudson lent her wondrous voice to the In Memoriam segment that, admittedly, felt a bit awkward, but as anyone familiar with her talent knows, the Oscar-winning hyphenate brought the house down. The Lady Gaga-led tribute to The Sound of Music showed viewers what many of us have known for years: She can sing. She eschewed her eccentric (and derivative – look it up) trappings and let her exquisite vocals carry the tribute. While Adam Levine became unfortunately lost in “Lost Stars” from Begin Again, the other performances representing the original song category shined: Rita Ora may have had a star moment with her performance of “Grateful” from Beyond the Lights; Tegan and Sara, The Lonely Island and a slew of LEGO Oscars made the performance of “Everything is AWESOME!!!” from The LEGO Movie that much more awesome; and Tim McGraw‘s restrained, unembellished performance of “I”m Not Gonna Miss You” from Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me. Last but not least, Common and John Legend stole the night with a powerful performance of “Glory” from best picture nominee Selma. The ballad, which fuses rap verses and a gospel aesthetic and chorus, handily won the original song prize.

Oh, right, the Oscars themselves. Birdman and Budapest each took four prizes. Birdman took picture, director, original screenplay, and cinematography. Budapest claimed prizes for original score, costume design, makeup and hairstyling, and production design. For the first time since the recent expansion of the best picture category, each nominee for best picture claimed at least one award.

Whiplash won supporting actor for J.K. Simmons, film editing, and sound mixing. Boyhood, regarded as a possible winner for picture and director, only took supporting actress for Patricia Arquette, who used her platform to speak up for wage equality in the United States. Graham Moore gave a heartfelt speech upon wining the adapted screenplay award for The Imitation Game. Eddie Redmayne landed the best actor trophy for The Theory of Everything; this marks the first time since 2006 that a film won this award alone.
American Sniper, a champion at the box office, won the award for sound editing.

Additionally, Julianne Moore claimed the best actress trophy for her work in Still Alice. Finally!

Overall, I went 16/24 with my picks – hardly anything to boast. This was a year in which there was a clear favorite, but many, including me, were reluctant to believe that such an esoteric film would dominate the night, relatively speaking.

Check out all the winners on the next page and my year-in-advance picks on the third page.

Last night’s winners

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The Author

Donovan Warren

Donovan Warren

Donovan Warren loves the wonderful world of film and all that comes with it. He specifically loves long takes, fabulous actresses, and keeping up with the Oscar season - even when it's far too early to make sense of anything.