For the first time, I got to watch the Oscars during normal airing time (perks of living on the West Coast, points for LA). Despite the fact that today was LA’s worst weather since getting out here (it will never be as bad as the Northeast winters though, let’s be honest), good company, entertainment,margaritas and wine, and of course, the Oscars ballot and pool, made for a good night. I will admit Neil Patrick Harris’ performance as a host declined so steeply immediately following that stellar opening act with Anna Kendrick. His jokes were almost entirely all puns (with a few exceptions), and most of them landed flat (although I did appreciate the amount of jabs taken at the Academy and other individuals in the theater). The live performances wasn’t that impressive, and The Lonely Island proved that their music should always be delivered through a video, not live (seriously, who thought it was a good idea to do a live-action version of a song from “The Lego Movie”, this year’s Animated Feature snub).
My favorite bits of the night:
- Opening number (aka the only thing NPH did well), featuring a flawless Anna Kendrick and a much appreciated comedic relief from Jack Black. Why don’t these bits with great comedic personalities happen more often?
- JK SIMMONS! A well deserved win for his electrifying performance in my personal favorite of the year, “Whiplash”. He set the tone for the night with his acceptance speech, urging everyone watching to pick up the phone and call their parents. Even this far in his career, it’s good to see J.K. acknowledge the love of his biggest supporters. Love you mom & dad; I’ll call y’all later.
- Neil Patrick Harris’ spoof of this year’s top winner, “Birdman”, where he is stripped down to his tighty-whiteys, anxiously pacing around to the drumming from Miles Teller of “Whiplash.”
- Lady Gaga’s tribute to 50 years of “The Sound of Music”. This could be a turning point in her career, where she has hid behind these acts for so long. Behind all the glitter and really terrible music, she is actually an incredibly talented individual. With a trained background in music hailing from LaGuardia High School, exhibit A:
- The acceptance speeches – so many honored awardees tonight took the opportunity to use the stage and share important messages, dealing with issues in the society that really matter. It’s such a testament to the fact that this industry (or at least certain individuals in the industry) is trying to use its position for the better. Yes, we gather around these idolized group of glamourous people for a night, but hey, they live in the real world too. Kudos to everyone who took the time to selflessly make their time to talk about anything other than themselves.
- Best Picture nominees graphics – When is the Academy going to give out awards and recognitions for all the technicians, artists, and animators who work their butts off to make beautiful abstract representations of the honored films?
Anyways, now the real meat of this post. Now that I’ve lost the Oscar ballot to my good by a mere 1 point, here is Sam’s REAL picks for who I think the awards should’ve gone to.
Best Picture: Personal bias goes to Whiplash, the perfect film of the year.
Best Director: Although I eventually became a fan of Birdman after I read the script, I think this award should’ve gone to the most persistent of the crop. To lead a team with the same vision but with different fervor and excitement each year for 12 years is an incredible feat, Richard Linklater should have gotten the recognition for his dedication.
Best Lead Actor: Eddie Redmayne’s genuine excitement and response in his acceptance speech says it all. The kid gave an unbelievably beautiful performance as Steven Hawkings, dedicating himself physically and mentally to the role, portraying a man that is still alive is a huge honor and responsibility, and he rose to the challenge with class and beauty. Though I can now make a pretty argument for Michael Keaton’s originating performance, I’m gonna stick with my first instinct and go with Eddie.
Best Lead Actress: This was probably the weakest pool of the night, and though I haven’t seen the film yet, I’ve seen enough of Julianne Moore’s performance to know that she’s the winner.
Best Supporting Actor: This year’s pool boasted impressive performances, but J.K. Simmons definitely deserves the golden statue this year as the terrifyingly attractive conductor and mentor. You want so badly to be his muse and to be close to him, but he hooks you with a little bit of anticipation, and then ruthlessly rips you apart until you are nothing but seething your own blood and sweat in greatness at your core.
Best Supporting Actress: In this day and age with how this industry works, any woman who is unashamed to let the world watch her age over the span of 12 years, playing a single mother who is struggling just as much as her kids to find herself, deserves applause. Patricia Arquette killed it as “Mom” in Boyhood. I’m sure many single mothers can relate and appreciate; and then her acceptance speech? That received a standing ovation from Meryl Streep and J.Lo, this year’s odd couple.
Best Cinematography: Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki. No questions asked. Brilliant man, I would hire him to make my morning commute look thrice as dramatic and engaging as his craft.
Best Adapted Screenplay: Because of Academy technicality, Whiplash is based on the short, Whiplash, written and directed by the same person who then wrote and directed the feature, Damien Chazelle…so then it’s a script that Damien adapted from a short that he wrote…what? This makes zero sense to me, but either way, it is a smart, provocative, and all around incredible script that did not receive the attention it deserves. I will let this slide because of Graham Moore’s speech though.
Best Original Screenplay: One of the biggest snubs from this year’s pool is Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler. Such a smart and daring story, it was a really fun script to read (and I actually read all of the nominated scripts this year. Give me a pat on the back), and in my opinion, should have gotten an award for the many quotes that I will now be using on a regular basis (“a friend is a gift you give yourself”).
Best Film Editing: 12 years worth of footage to edit into a 2 hour long film must be a pain, but Tom Cross outdid himself with the infection rhythms of his work in Whiplash. Ok, you can clearly see what my favorite of the year is, but I kid you not, I probably watched the last scene of this movie about 50 times since I first saw it a month ago, and it never gets old.
Best Sound Editing: When I was watching American Sniper, the sound editing was actually one of the few things I made a note of. It did a lot to keep me on the edge of my seat, but if I could extend a tie, I would give Birdman a piece of the statue for valiant effort in cutting together this film that is shown as a single long take. Editing the picture of it was probably hard, but I can bet you that seamlessly editing the sound is much harder.
Best Sound Mixing: Whiplash. It’s a movie about jazz musicians, the sound mix pretty much sets the entire world.
Best Visual Effects: Despite all the logistical flaws of the film, Christopher Nolan has a knack for bringing the complicated worlds in his head into life, of course, with the help of his VFX team. Interstellar takes us beyond this world.
Best Hair & Make-Up: I’m a fan of really well done subtle work. This one should’ve gone to the team transforming Michael Scott into an intense and creepy Steve Carrell in Foxcatcher.
Best Costume Design: One of my favorite thing about The Grand Budapest Hotel was Zero’s lobby boy hat.
Best Production Design: The picturesque storybook details of The Grand Budapest Hotel was such a joy to watch.
Best Original Song: If we were basing it solely off of the Oscar performances, “Glory” was the only one that didn’t make me want to change the channel.
Best Original Score: Johan Johannsson, come on, how do you not give an award to a guy with that name?
Best Animated Feature: Honestly, aside from The Lego Movie‘s snub, Big Hero 6 was the only one I saw of the animated features..