Let's start with everyone's favorite host, Neil Patrick Harris. The opening number was wonderful and showcased what makes NPH such a heartthrob. By my count, there was more host time than ever before, where in year's past the host has not been on stage and in the audience nearly so much as Harris was, but he kept the night moving and even some of his dumb jokes were funny. (Edward Snowden is not here tonight for some t-reason. Genius!) The magic briefcase was a little overdone, but had a fun payoff at the end.
Gaga, oh the Lady Gaga, all hail. Behind the meat dresses and the shenanigans, there is one hell of a powerful and beautiful voice. That woman is a true talent. When she got emotional at the end and Julie Andrews came out, I had a severe allergic reaction. Ok, I cried. What am I, made of stone??? (On the other hand, Gaga, leave the dress alone, stop playing with it. It looks weird.) On the other hand, the Jennifer Hudson song was beautiful, but unnecessary. As in years past, the live performance behind the in memoriam would have done better.
Glom Gazingo and Adele Dazeem, the perfect pair. I had read that John Travolta was game for poking fun at his gaffe from last year, and boy, they did such a great job with the schtick to make up for it.
Kudos to the orchestra conductor for knowing when to let a person continue and knowing when he or she has lost his way and just doesn't know how to wrap up. Some very nice speeches owe their thanks to the maestro. On the other hand, SHAME ON YOU multiple winners who didn't figure out in advance how you would divide the time, so only some people got to thank their families. I really hate when one of the winners uses up all of the time.
Finally, an interesting note - this was the first time in Oscar history that every single Best Picture nominee received at least one award. Wow!
Ok, now to the winners.
Best Picture: I still think that the Imitation Game was the best of the films, but as I predicted, The Academy went with the quirky film that resonates just a little too well with those voters who dream of making their own comeback.
Best Actor: For the transformation in every part of his body, Eddie Redmayne deserved it.
Best Actress: Sorry, Julianne Moore, there IS a best actress and it was you. But there was not a single misstep among the other women in your category.
Best Supporting Actor: JK Simmons deserved it and gave a very sweet speech (do I have to call my parents if they watched the show with me???), that maybe lost its way as he spoke. (A little more prep, and you nailed it, JK)
Best Supporting Actress: You go, Patricia Arquette! Get down with your bad self. Despite the income inequality jokes on Twitter, she used a very public moment and her fame to bring attention to a serious issue.
Best Director: Though Inarritu did a great job with a crazy vision, Richard Linklater was the deserving director, and this was an injustice, in my opinion.
Best Original Screenplay: This was a shocker, but along the lines of Birdman's dominance of the awards. I'm still shocked, and I still think The Grand Budapest Hotel should have won. Sorry to those who followed my advice on this one!
Best Adapted Screenplay: I have been an Imitation Game backer for a long time now. But Graham Moore's speech only codified my love for the film. His openness about his own struggles followed by the charge to pass on the inspiration made his speech one of the winners of the evening.
Best Cinematography: Now, I know a very little bit about Cinematography, and one of the things that I have come to understand is that the long one shots in Birdman are extraordinary accomplishments (for the actors, as well!), and required the best of the best. I thought this was an outstanding representation of Cinematography, especially in light of my complaints that this same Director of Photography got too many accolades for Gravity.
Best Costume Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel was a good winner, though many of the nominees could easily have done as well.
Animated Feature: Oh, the irony. And the powerful lesson - when I saw Big Hero 6, the first thing I said was, "that's the winner." Then, I did all my research listened to the pundits, and picked a different film. But I loved Big Hero 6, and am thrilled that it won.
Documentary Feature: Though I did pick CitizenFour to win, and it did, and it was important, I still stand by my original contention that Virunga was the more important film. Plus, gorillas.
Documentary Short: Crisis Hotline is playing on HBO, and you should see it. It's serious and these featured crisis hotline workers are true heroes.
Film Editing: This category had a serious upset when Whiplash was declared the winner. It was extraordinary when you think about multiple takes of drumming and music and then edit that into a coherent film. But I really think Boyhood deserved the award - that film's success entirely boiled down to the quality of the editing.
Original Score: This is a category where I should have learned from experience is often connected to the momentum a picture has. Plus, statistically, Alexandre Desplat was nominated for 2 of the 5 choices, which gives him a larger chance of winning. But I went with my heart and chose The Theory of Everything that had a stand out score. Shame on me, and I should have warned you all that the momentum picture is usually the winner.
Production Design: Grand Budapest Hotel did win, should have won, end of story.
Animated Short Film: And HALLELUJAH! Though I picked the Dam Keeper for fear of getting caught up in another Disney film that should have been the winner and then wasn't, I was happy to be wrong in this category. Finally, the best film won.
Original Song: Ah, how great was the performance of the winning song, Glory? All of the performances were strong and Tim McGraw's version of I'm Not Going to Miss You, was so touching. But Glory stands apart. And kudos to John Legend and Common for quite clearly preparing their speeches, which were transcendent.
Sound Editing: Of course, American Sniper.
Sound Mixing: This one was a surprise for me, but is really a tribute to how much the Academy wanted to honor Whiplash, a most deserving award winner.
Makeup and Hairstyling: The Grand Budapest Hotel was the winner, again on momentum. Check out Guardians of the Galaxy - the makeup is amazing and critical to almost every single character in the film. It's a bit of an injustice.
Live Action Short Film: The Phone Call was powerful, and I love Sally Hawkins. But make sure to check out Boogaloo and Graham, which was so adorable. I mean, chickens on leashes kind of adorable.
Visual Effects: Here, dear readers, is where I let you down. On the day of the broadcast, I did indeed change my ballot to Interstellar, which means that if you used my picks, I got it right and you got it wrong. As I mentioned in the Who Should Win post, I was wrestling with this one, and at the last moment changed my mind. I should have let you know!
Foreign Language Film: As I've said, when it comes to the Academy, it's futile to compete with Holocaust movies. This one was so beautifully done that it was a clear winner. But there are some outstanding films in this category that you should see, especially Wild Tales and Tangerines.
One last note - did you notice how many "doubles" there were with this year's nominees? Two Alzheimer's films (Still Alice, Glen Campbell), two films that Mark Ruffalo is in, two films that Keira Knightley is in, two films that TJ Miller does voices for, two films about suicide hotlines (The Phone Call, Crisis Hotline), two films about war veterans (American Sniper, Crisis Hotline), two films about Olympic athletes (Foxcatcher, Unbroken), two films about photographers (Finding Vivian Maier, The Salt of the Earth)... and those aren't even all of them!
Thank you for going on this journey with me, and I'll see you again at the Oscars!
Enjoy the performance of "Moving Pictures!"