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The 87th Academy Awards Oscar winners….

February 23, 2015



So, how did showman Neil Patrick Harris do, hosting the Oscar telecast for the first time? He did fine. Just fine. Not great though. His comic timing was predictably great and the opening song-and-dance number was entertaining, but the Octavia Spencer watching his secured briefcase bit was a bore that had zero payoff. Amid the expectedly long night, NPH said some zingers, some tactless comments and for some reason, relied on hanging out in the aisles to try and change it up, something that Ellen did ad nauseam last year. No selfies this year though. But the most memorable moment of this hosting gig was his homage to “Birdman” where he comes out in his tighty-whiteys, something no other host has done before (or probably ever again). Your parents are still shaking their heads at that. Let’s just get to those winners….

The Bird was the word on February 22nd at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. “Birdman” that is. It won Best Picture, Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu won for Best Director, Best Cinematography went to a deserving Emmanuel Lubezki and it also won for Best Original Screenplay. Still, it’s kind of odd though that a movie about actors didn’t win any Oscars in the acting categories. Some say Keaton should have won, but the odds leading up to the evening were not in his favor. I liked “Birdman”, but it didn’t move me as much as its main competitor, “Boyhood” did. Richard Linklater’s touching film only went home with one award. It’s not alone though, “Selma” , another Best Picture nominee, only earned one as well, for Original Song, since it was obviously was not going to win for Best Picture.

The four acting categories gave us no surprise winners this year. Everyone who won was predicted to win. All four actors deserved their Oscars though, it’s hard for me to argue that they didn’t. Some, like Eddie Redmayne, who won for playing Stephen Hawkings in “The Theory of Everything” and Julianne Moore who played a linguistics professor stricken with early onset Ahlsheimer’s in “Still Alice”, definitely outshined the movies they were in. Out of the four winners, the two Supporting Actor wins were the standouts of the respective movies they were in. J.K. Simmons owned “Whiplash”, in fact, the film would be a totally different animal without him. The same could be said for Patricia Arquette, who won for her work in “Boyhood”.  Out of all the acceptance speeches by the actors, Arquette’s was the most memorable, in which she passionately spoke out about equality, “To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation,” said Arquette. ”We have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once for all. And equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

Days later, her comments would put some pundits, talking heads and snarky online commenters in an uproar, but there was no bigger fan in the moment as fellow nominee Meryl Streep, who could be seen hooting and hollering in the front row, next to Jennifer Lopez.




Another moving acceptance speech was Chicago’s own, Graham Moore, who wrote the screenplay for “The Imitation Game”, adapting it from the Andrew Hodges book, Alan Turing: The Enigma.  With ten seconds left, the 33 year-old offered a raw and vulnerable confession, “When I was 16 years old, I tried to kill myself,” he told the audience at the theatre and the world, “because I felt weird and I felt different and I felt like I did not belong. And now I am standing here. 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. You do. Stay weird, stay different. And when it’s your turn to stand on this stage, pass the message along.”




As for upsets, there weren’t very many. It’s ironic though that the biggest upset was the Best Animated Feature category, which found Disney’s “Big Hero 6” winning, considering it also had the biggest snub by not including “The LEGO Movie”. DreamWorks’ “How to Train Your Dragon 2” was expected to win, but Disney earned the award, as it did for Best Animated Short for the adorable “Feast”. A couple welcome upsets came when “Whiplash” winning for Best Editing, one of the film’s four wins. The other big winner of the evening was “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, which earned four awards as well, including an upset in the Best Score category, where Alexandre Desplat beat out Johann Johannson‘s music for “The Theory of Everything”.

I was most pleased that “Ida”, my #1 film of 2014, won for Best Foreign Language film. The black-and-white Polish film  marked the first such win for Poland despite a rich cinema history. Director Pawel Pawlikowski charmed the audience with a bemused acceptance speech that ran amusingly over his allotted time. Screw the orchestra – that’s what we’re watching for!

Overall, the ceremony, was kind of bland. The “In Memorium” section was tasteful, but we didn’t need Jennifer Hudson singing, in fact, much of the singing for each Original Song nominee was unmemorable (and was as much a break from the show as the commercials), save for John Legend and Common, both of whom made actors David Oyelowo and Chris Pine cry with their performance of “Glory” from “Selma”.

But the surprising highlight was during the 50th anniversary of “The Sound of Music”, which found Lady Gaga singing a medley of the classic songs from that movie, only to be greeted/congratulated by Julie Andrews herself. Why was it surprising? Because you never know what to expect with Lady Gaga – and here she was elegant and let her amazing voice be the spotlight instead of her attitude or costume. She killed it, actually. And seeing how moved Julie Andrews was (who came out to give Alexandre Desplat his award for Best Score for “The Grand Budapest Hotel”) after Gaga’s performance was very sweet.

Will we see NPH return? That’s not for me to say. Honestly, I was expecting him to be bit looser during the show. The scripted jokes weren’t that great and all but backed him into a corner. There’s no escaping how arduous and repetitive the show is, but that’s what we expect. For those of us who’ve been watching the show since we were children, it’s become like any other yearly tradition and just something you have to watch, regardless of how successful the host is. All in all, I’m glad they’re over.

Below is a rundown of the nominees and the winners (highlighted in Keeping It Reel red) ….




Best Picture
American Sniper
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything

Best Director
Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance”
Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”
Morten Tyldum, “The Imitation Game”
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher

Best Actor
Steve Carell, “Foxcatcher”
Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper”
Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Imitation Game”
Micheal Keaton, “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Eddie Redmayne, Theory of Everything

Best Actress
Marion Cotillard, “Two Days, One Night”
Felicity Jones, “Theory of Everything”
Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”
Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl”
Reese Witherspoon, “Wild”

Best Supporting Actor
Robert Duvall, “The Judge”
Ethan Hawke, “Boyhood”
Edward Norton, “Birdman”
Mark Ruffalo, “Foxcatcher”
J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”

Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”
Laura Dern, “Wild”
Keira Knightley, “Imitation Game”
Meryl Streep, “Into the Woods”
Emma Stone, “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”

Best Adapted Screenplay
American Sniper
The Imitation Game
Inherent Vice
The Theory of Everything

Best Original Screenplay
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
The Grand Budapest Hotel

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Mr. Turner

Best Original Song
“Everything is Awesome”, LEGO Movie
“Glory”, Selma
“Grateful”, Behind the Lights
“I’m Not Going to Miss You”, Glen Campbell
“Lost Stars”, Begin Again




Original Score
Alexandre Desplat, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Alexandre Desplat, “The Imitation Game”
Hans Zimmer, “Interstellar”
Gary Yershon, “Mr. Turner”
Johann Johannsson, “The Theory of Everything”

Makeup and Hairstyling
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Guardians of the Galaxy

Costume Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Inherent Vice
Into the Woods
Mr. Turner

Foreign Language Film
Wild Tales

Best Animated Feature Film
Big Hero 6
The Boxtrolls
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Song of the Sea
The Tale of Princess Kaguya

Best Animated Short
The Bigger Picture
The Dam Keeper
Me and My Moulton
A Single Life

Live Action Short Film
Boogalo and Graham
Butter Lamp
The Phone Call

Production Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Into the Woods
Mr. Turner




Visual Effects
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Guardians of the Galaxy
X:Men: Days of Future Past

Best Documentary feature
Finding Vivian Maier
Last Days in Vietnam
The Salt of the Earth

Best Editing
American Sniper
Grand Budapest hotel
The Imitation Game

Sound Editing
American Sniper
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
The Hobbit: THe Battle of the Five Armies

Sound Mixing
American Sniper
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)




Most of these nominees can be found on DVD/Blu-ray already. “Theory of Everything” came out last week, “Boyhood” is available as is “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and both “Birdman”, “Whiplash” and “Big Hero 6” hit the streets this week. Oh, those studios know a thing or two about timing.

Check out Episode #4 of our newly resurrected Keeping It Reel Podcast, for more post-Oscar talk and discussion on available on iTunes. That’s right, Demetri Kouvalis and I are back at – with guests too! Just look up “Keeping It Reel” in the podcast section of iTunes and look for this logo (see below)…..







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