John Villarose VI
The 87th Academy Awards have come and gone, and it was certainly a sight to see. This year’s host was Neil Patrick Harris who seems to be hosting just about everything lately, and for good reason. Harris was the best host the show’s had in years, outshining Seth MacFarlane, James Franco, Anne Hathaway, Billy Crystal and even Ellen Degeneres. The show opened with a musical. However, the performance was much better than expected, as visual effects were used to commemorate decades upon decades of great cinema, at times even working Harris into the visuals. He was joined on stage by Anna Kendrick and Jack Black, both of whom added in fun twists (and gave Black a chance to shine after a few slow years in his career).
Performance aside, Harris kept the audience entertained by constant jabs toward the Academy, pointing out the snubs of Jennifer Aniston and David Oyelowo as well as the lack of any people of color nominated for acting awards. He reenacted a scene from Best Picture winner “Birdman” with the help of Miles Teller, going as far as to boldly appear on stage in his underwear. While his Oscar predictions gag started funny, by the end it had dragged so long nobody really still cared. In addition, his seat-fillers joke was painfully awkward.
Including the opening monologue, there was a total of seven musical performances. Each of the Best Original Song nominees was performed by the original artists, but only two of those five stood out. One of the earlier performances was the weirdly catchy “Everything Is Awesome” by Tegan and Sara and The Lonely Island. Childlike and over-the-top, the performance was enjoyable, in part due to the fact that the singers just looked like they were having fun. The final nominee performance was “Glory” by John Legend and Common, which was one of the most earnest and meaningful that the Oscars have seen, featuring black men and women walking arm-in-arm in a callback to the Million Man March members of the audience broke out in tears. Finally, Lady Gaga performed a tribute to “The Sound of Music.” Those expecting outrageous stunts may have been surprised to see Gaga performing simply and beautifully, only to be later joined on stage by Julie Andrews herself.
As for the awards themselves, most went to their deserved recipients. It was nice to see “Whiplash,” which was perhaps the most underrated nominee this year, walk away with a few awards aside from J.K. Simmons’. Patricia Arquette unsurprisingly won Best Supporting Actress, giving a fitting (if perhaps a little forced) speech about equal rights for women.
Likewise, Best Adapted Screenplay winner Graham Moore (The Imitation Game) gave a particularly moving speech about his own suicide attempt. Best Animated Picture, which was already a subject of controversy due to its snub of “The Lego Movie,” garnered more criticism for giving the award to “Big Hero 6” over the expected “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” cementing the idea that the award has a bias in favor of Disney rather than Dreamworks. Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director were all a bit of a surprise, with “Birdman” winning two of the three, and not the one it was expected to. Eddie Redmayne won Best Actor over Michael Keaton. “Boyhood,” despite being the favorite to win the big prizes, collected only a single Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
While the show was overall enjoyable, there were a couple minor missteps. John Travolta and Idina Menzel’s reconciliation was funny for a moment, but it dragged on and got particularly awkward when Travolta got unapologetically creepy about it. Finally, in annual “In Memoriam” segment, viewers might have noticed the shocking exclusion of Joan Rivers, which came across as downright disrespectful.