As you know, we feel this year’s Oscar’s ceremony was one of the most enjoyable in years. We watched it without the distraction of writing, twittering or facebooking for the majority of the show, giving in only in the 7th inning stretch that is the telecast’s final hour. As such, we were spared the often funny, eventually depressing knee-jerk reactions from the internet that can turn a selfie into a phenomenon and a Travolta flub into a haunting meme for years to come (looks like it wasn’t put to rest last night after all) that follows both the flubber and the flubee (Idina Menzel) for years to come. Menzel was the picture of professionalism and grace as every girl her age’s one time crush Danny Zuko grabbed her face, something that is just not done, and then held on for eternal seconds with the world watching.
So the ballots came in, the statues went out, the LEGO statues went out to a lucky few (we’d love one, we’d really love one….) and Neil Patrick Harris danced, sang, stripped, threw a little shade (we think) and joked for his life. Yeah, there were a lot of beautiful dresses and tuxes, and a few bad ones. But we aren’t about that. Here’s a contextual look (which included a late night, too much wine and cheese fueled, survey) of all social media post-event to bring you Our Tally of Who Won Hollywood’s Biggest Night on a grand scale, beyond the podium, into the Vanity Fair party and in the quagmire of the almost impossible to please world of online critics in our sweats. And who did not. We don’t use the word “loser” around here. We prefer bomb, bummer, bust, catastrophe, clinker, clunker, debacle, disaster, dud, fiasco, fizzle, flop, frost, lemon, shipwreck, turkey, washout…
We thought the always Doogie Howser, famously Barney Stinson, and beloved to us as Hedwig on Broadway Neil Patrick Harris did an exceptional job hosting this year, particularly in stellar, flawless opening number and pitch-perfect opening monologue. It felt as though the room relaxed nicely with Harris as Host and true MC, lending the affair an intimacy and interest to our home viewing experience. The public opinion of the Oscar host is probably almost as fraught as a debate about political candidates, so ratings, major reviews, and the zeitgeist will decide if the world has found its long gone repeat host once more (he has our vote) or will throw him to the wolves. Harris has an insider/outsider perspective that lends an appropriateness to his tone, he appeals to a younger demographic, has a lot of name recognition and is not pigeonholed as one thing (or too closely identified with the film industry). The tightey whiteys on stage were a misstep, and the Magician’s 101 trick of the final envelope fell flat for anyone who was not drunk. At times, Harris might have tried to upstage the million candle power wattage of those film A-listers a tad. But with this being said, tone is very hard to predict and to plan, the opener is worth a ton of cred, and his shade/compliments made him an instant favourite for us.
Reaction online via twitter and Facebook was mixed, as is the mainstream media coverage. Time will tell. It’s one tough gig that is very, very hard to fill (well).
Tegan and Sara made Canada proud as they performed live as part of a LEGO-fever dream number along with The Lonely Island (Akiva Schaffer, Andy Samberg, and Jorma Taccone) for the Oscar-nominated “Everything is Awesome”. We never feel more Canadian than when one of our artists gets into the big leagues. They had accompaniment from none other than Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh, Questlove from The Roots and we knew it was someone we love under there Will Arnett as Batman. Watch the performance here.
The hills were alive with Lady Gaga causing everyone to sit up and take notice. “She can really sing? Like that?” went around the world from one of us at Step On HQ, while I was one of the camp that knew Gaga had the pipes, has seen her do some live singing, (back in the latter days of the Oprah show) and that behind all the “Performance Art” which has surely become an albatross as well as an enrichment over the years, Gaga was a hit song-ghost writing artist to be reckoned with. We expect her home to be filled with ridiculous bouquets and her calendar to be full for some time to come, and this surely was an event that needed to happen for Gaga in mid-career when the make-under is more radical than the egg chariot.
The first speech to make the censors worry for a moment, and one that will go down in history as it came from such a genuine, heart-felt, un PR place, was best supporting actress winner and Meryl Streep beater Patricia Arquette‘s call for wage equality for women. Arquette’s words had much more weight and believability than they would have coming from one of the ultra-rich ultra-A list faces who appear on that stage every year. This call to action had a suspiciously strong reaction from attention-getting Streep and Jennifer Lopez when we think they might just have stayed seated and applaud loudly, but the mood went around the room and around the world. With so many issues of importance that need to be spoken aloud, there is still a call for Feminism and equality and any personal causes that are truest to one’s heart.
When Idris Elba came on stage to present something it was all a beautiful blur as time stopped for us…. World, you just had a preview of who ought to be your next big A-list movie star and the next James Bond. These presenter slots must be bandied about and negotiated over like the ugliest will readings, and it was nice to see a fine, newer, deserving face up there.
Everyone who won awards who outlasted the orchestra and kept on with their remarks. If there was time in the always bloated telecast for Neil Patrick Harris to do bits in the final stretch, there ought to be time for winners to have 30 whole seconds to accept their award, no matter how unfamous or accented they may be. This got us cheering almost as much as the most deserving surprising wins and the best speeches.
Nominee Robert Duvall did not want to be in Ellen’s jokes last year, and he sure as hell didn’t want to be in Neil Patrick Harris’ jokes this year. Duvall don’t play. Living legends don’t stoop to your bits, and they leave hosts flailing in a delightfully uncomfortable way.
Michael Keaton: Looking like an epilogue of an alright with himself Birdman, nominee Keaton had to sit under that camera’s glare for 4 hours while his film garnered a lead on awards of the night, only to lose to a nearly unknown Eddie Redmayne. Fever has built over months for the deserving Birdman and for Keaton’s tour-de-force, relevant because it is such a meta-film about acting, fame, hype, quality, art, and artifice, performance. Keaton has handled the spotlight, the praise and awards he’s garnered in recent months, and the pressure, like the original Batman we all know, love, and missed, that had us dancing to one of the strangest Prince songs ever in 1988, lining up around theatre blocks for perhaps the last time, and providing a pivotal memory of our collective cultural youth. Michael Keaton, welcome back, you gum chewing original, you.
Accepting his Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, Graham Moore gave a wonderful speech without cue cards (always better) which shed new light and love on the issues of weirdness, individuality, acceptance of sexual orientation (but not only) and suicide-prevention, in a moment so sensitive it became meme-d around the world instantly and deserved another award. It gave hope, and assurance that yes, somewhere, countless young people watching did take life-altering solace in those words and were saved.
Wes Anderson and all he touches (and all his collaborators over the years). While Anderson did not collect the Best Director or Best Picture statue, the fact that The Grand Budapest Hotel was finally ranked alongside the less “quirky” films of the year for the “big” categories AND won 4 Oscars: Costume, Make Up, Production Design & Score mean very good things for culture, for Anderson’s continued work and for all of us who can never, ever get enough of Angelica Huston, Bill Murray, and the worlds created by this team year in and year out.
Watch the video of the most talked about speech of the night, by Graham Moore HERE
Alejandro Gozalez Inarritu, director of Birdman, was personally nominated for three awards and won them all.
John Legend and Common: Their performance of “Glory” was the hit of the night, immediately followed by their win for Best Song, and a rousing acceptance speech where issues of the stuggle for justice continues, and Legend noted “’Selma’ is now, because the struggle for justice is right now,” he said, adding, (a scientifically supported fact) “There are more black men under correctional control today than there were under slavery in 1850.”
Patton Oswald: Twitter champion and naturally funny actor/writer and comic, who’s twitter feed is a must read when anything is going on, and often, when nothing is going on. We love this man’s brain as much as we loved Jake Ryan in 1986. From reading our minds about the orchestra, to instantly identifying who was missed on the memorial, to revealing his understandable crush on Idris Elba, to letting us know his wife had recommended no more drinking and switching to water before he issued a career-limiting tweet, maybe Oswald ought to be put in contention for hosting if the Coliseum downvotes NPH for next year.
Huge laurels must go to Julianne Moore who won her first Oscar for Best Actress in Still Alice after 5 nominations since 1998 (1998, 2000, 2003, 2003, 2015)!
Best unexpected bad boy award goes to nominuee Benedict Cumberbatch for getting caught swigging from an elegant flask on camera (see our twitter feed for this – @jacksstepon
Vanity Fair: for having the best red carpet (wide green and cream striped, le sigh!) and the most coveted invite since the Oscar awards, this year’s twitter feed kept us lusting until 5:30 am.
All of us: For marking another year with the dreadful Seth MacFarlane miles away from that Oscar stage.
Debacles, duds, fiascoes, flops, lemons, turkeys, washouts…
Joan Rivers, Harold Ramis, Jan Hooks, and Taylor Negron: we don’t know the whole formula for who gets into the In Memoriam scroll each year, but it’s an area of the awards where someone also gets robbed every year. Internet sleuths, bloggers and irate Joan Rivers fans (who are legion) are demanding answers. The worst part is that these folks are missed and never publicly mourned and acknowledged in the next year either. It always leaves a sense of sloppiness to the whole proceedings which seem otherwise to be timed to the millisecond. Further reading: “Campaigning to make the Oscars Memorial List” (New York Times Arts).
John Travolta, they gave him every opportunity to make up for last year and he gave us THIS and THIS:
Boyhood & American Sniper: With a combined 12 nominations these two films took home just one each, but Boyhood has put Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and their oeuvre on the world stage, and we expect to see them up for big awards, acclaim and innovation in years to come. American Sniper is a polarizing film that was a massive blockbuster for the unstoppable Clint Eastwood.
Eddie Murphy: While it’s always good to see Eddie and his work on SNL in the early 80’s is still untouchable, as are Trading Places and Delirious, we’d love if he’d be publicly funny once in awhile.
Gloves to the armpit: RIP, right here, right now.
To end on a high note, for as long as it’s still up on youtube, watch or rewatch the Oscars opening number again!