Achievement in Visual Effects: You guessed it, another space movie.
I haven’t seen Citizenfour yet so I don’t want to speak too much on the significance of its win for Best Documentary Feature but, it goes without saying Edward Snowden is a divisive figure. The fact that a film celebrating him as a whistleblower could be commended in such a public forum, speaks to something resembling radical even if there were still a lot of shifty eyes and nervous faces.
Arguably the most vital and stirring event of the night was Common and John Legend’s performance of “Glory,” from Selma and their subsequent win for Best Original Song. I have not yet seen the film (I know I was really slacking this year) but I don’t need to know that when Meryl Streep’s performance in Into the Woods is nominated and a film as critically acclaimed (way more than American Sniper I might add) as Selma is only nominated for Best Picture there’s a problem. This year, the Academy’s usual, “but we recognized minorities last year!” spiel was not going to fly with the outside world. There was a degree of discomfort from the event’s onset. From Neil Patrick Harris’ awkward jokes about people of color not being recognized by the Academy to weirdly setting up David Oyelowo to diss the Jamie Foxx version of Annie, it was weird. And then John Legend offered up just about the most concise piece of wisdom of the night:
“We know that right now the struggle for freedom and justice is real. We live in the most incarcerated country in the world. There are more black men under correctional control today than ere under slavery in 1850. When people are marching with our song, we want to tell you that we are with you, we see you, we love you, and march on.”
It was a little uncomfortable to see a sea of white faces standing and crying for the speech but y’know at least those are real messages that needed to be heard.
Alexandre Desplat was nominated twice for Best Original Score with The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Imitation Game. Although perhaps expected, his win was extremely well deserved. I think he is probably one of the most talented, living composers who has not yet been unrecognized in this department.
Best Original Screenplay – Birdman: Obviously.
Best Adapted Screenplay went to The Imitation Game which I didn’t see but I heard was good. Writer Graham Moore’s speech was touching albeit a little uncomfortable in its own way.
“When I was 16 years old, I tried to kill myself because I felt weird and I felt different and I felt like I did not belong. And now I’m standing here and, so, I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she’s weird or she’s different or she doesn’t fit in anywhere. Yes, you do. I promise you do. You do. Stay weird. Stay different.”
Moore correlates gayness with weirdness and while it’s appreciated that gayness can feel like weirdness, especially to a young person, it’s also important to emphasize that gayness is not weirdness. So yeah, I dunno 6/10.
Best Picture and Best Director both went to Birdman, in my opinion deservedly. I didn’t care for Boyhood beyond the gimmick of it so I’m not the person to think it not winning things was a big let down. It also means that I feel like Michael Keaton was robbed for Best Actor.
While Still Alice is not a perfect movie, the performance Julianne Moore gave, that earned her Best Actresswas 100%. I’m beginning to feel Moore is an unsung hero. She’s so good practically all of the time, that it goes nearly without comment. But I see you, Julianne Moore. Keep killing it.
Overall, the Academy Awards continue to be what they always are. The host let everyone down. John Travolta was a creep. Meryl was nominated. The bold statements were few and far between. But who knows, maybe everyone’s getting tired of the ceremony of it all. Maybe next year will be different. Maybe.