"Birdman" wins four Oscars, including best picture
Eddie Redmayne wins best actor, Julianne Moore best actress
Patricia Arquette, J.K. Simmons win supporting awards
“Birdman” soared late at the 87th Academy Awards, winning the big prize: best picture.
The film, about a onetime superhero actor – played by Michael Keaton – making a comeback bid through a Broadway play, was filled with unusual touches: filmed as if all one shot, scored with a jazzy-drum soundtrack, shaded with magical realism, largely the vision of director and co-writer Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu.
“This guy is as bold as bold could be,” Keaton said of the director as he took a turn at the microphone during the best picture acceptance.
The film won three other honors: directing, cinematography – the second straight Oscar for cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, who won last year for “Gravity” – and original screenplay. Iñarritu is the second Mexican director to win in two years, after “Gravity’s” Alfonso Cuaron.
“Two Mexicans in a row, that’s suspicious,” Iñarritu joked.
“Birdman” had appeared to take the lead in the Oscar race in recent weeks, cementing its front-runner status with wins at the Producers Guild and the Independent Spirit Awards. Its main competition was “Boyhood,” a chronicle of a youth’s life shot over 12 years by director Richard Linklater.
“Boyhood” ended up with one Oscar, for best supporting actress.
Indeed, the Oscars were pretty much as the handicappers predicted.
Eddie Redmayne won best actor for his performance as the ALS-afflicted scientist Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything.” Julianne Moore won best actress for her performance as a professor suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s in “Still Alice.”
“Boyhood’s” Patricia Arquette won best supporting actress – and made sure that her award was a call for equality.
“We have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all. And equal rights for women in the United Stares of America,” she said, to rousing applause.
Her activist message also resonated online.
Also resonating was a stirring speech by Common and John Legend, who won best song for “Glory.” Their performance of the song brought the film’s star David Oyelowo to tears.
’Call your mom; call your dad’
The best supporting actor Oscar went to J.K. Simmons of “Whiplash.”
The longtime character actor – known to audiences for his roles in Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” films as J.Jonah Jameson, the TV show “The Closer” and ads for Farmers Insurance and M&Ms, among many others – paid tribute to his family in his speech, praising his wife and his “above-average” children.
He also put in a plug for actual phone calls.
“Call your mom; call your dad; don’t text; don’t email; tell them you love them,” he said.
Host Neil Patrick Harris tweaked him by humming the Farmers theme as Simmons left the stage.
“Whiplash” won three Oscars, winning sound mixing and film editing along with supporting actor. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” tied “Birdman” with four Oscars: for score, production design, costume design and makeup.
“Big Hero 6” won best animated feature. “Citizenfour” won best documentary feature.
Director Laura Poitras thanked the film’s subject, Edward Snowden, the NSA contractor who leaked classified files and earned the ire of the government. An attempt at a pun from Harris – Snowden couldn’t be at the Oscars “for some treason” – got immediate pushback online.
“The Imitation Game” won adapted screenplay. “Ida” won best foreign language film.
NPH leads with jokes
The Oscars – the “epicenter of noise and world attention,” as “Ida” director Pawel Pawlikowski called them – wasted no time in poking fun at some of the big issues facing Hollywood: diversity, economics and self-involvement.
Harris led off the show with a joke about the lack of diversity among the acting nominees.
“This year we honor Hollywood’s best and whitest – sorry, brightest,” he joked.
Then, in a mammoth opening number, he and Anna Kendrick were joined by Jack Black, who angrily hopped on stage to throw a sarcastic wet blanket over their hailing of “Moving Pictures,” noting that the business is as much about “raising tents with tentpoles and chasing Chinese bucks” than it is about art.
He was summarily dismissed by Harris.
The host also wandered into the audience, greeting two seat fillers among the celebrities, and at one point parodied “Birdman” by walking through the backstage area in his underwear – right onto the stage.
Some unexpected rain didn’t dampen the spirits of the celebrities arriving for Hollywood’s biggest night. However, there was little burst of color this year among the red-carpet walkers. Instead, there were lots of whites, blacks, silvers and grays.
Lady Gaga added some red with what appeared to be exaggerated dishwashing gloves.
Arquette decided to split the difference between black and white, with her gown consisting of a white top and black skirt.
So did comedian Kevin Hart, who was wearing a tuxedo featuring a white jacket with black lapels, along with a black shirt, black tie and white pants.
“When you’re on the red carpet, you might as well pop,” he told CNN.
However, the Twitter hashtag #AskHerMore was encouraging interviewers to ask celebrities more than just “Who are you wearing?”
One wonders what the late Joan Rivers would have thought of that. Rivers was also trending, however, for being left out of the “In Memoriam” montage.
Well, it’s the Oscars. Only a Birdman can fly above the fray.
The show aired from Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre.