The 87th annual Academy Awards are now in the history books. The big winner of the night was Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), which ended up winning 4 Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director for Alejandro González Iñárritu. The other frontrunner Boyhood ended up being practically shut out, with its only award going to the expected Best Supporting Actress win for Patricia Arquette. There were no surprises in the other acting categories, except for those who expected Michael Keaton to win over Eddie Redmayne.
Even though the awards were a bit all over the place this year, I still had a pretty decent result of getting 14 out of 24 predictions correct. I would have got 15 if I made the smart choice and predicted Birdman for Best Picture, since all the signs were pointing to that. However, I just didn’t have the heart to make it my prediction, since I love Boyhood so much. Even though I ranked Birdman number 3 on my Top Films of 2014, and will likely be getting the film on blu-ray within the week, it just doesn’t feel right that this was the film that ended up winning Best Picture.
However, if there is an Oscar winner that I have a serious problem with, it is the fact that Big Hero 6 ended up winning the Oscar for Best Animated Film. While I have nothing against the film itself, which I enjoyed, this win is continuing the disturbing trend of making the Best Animated Film Oscar “The Disney Award.” This Oscar was introduced in 2001 and in its 14 year existence, a film released by Disney has won for 9 of them. While some of the wins for Disney was deserved, this year both Dreamworks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Studio Ghibli’s The Tale of the Princess Kaguya deserved to win more. While both studios are included among the few non-Disney wins in the award’s history, for Shrek in 2001 and Spirited Away in 2002, both were well overdue for another Oscar. It’s particularly sad in the case of Studio Ghibli, since the studio’s future is up in the air and it would’ve been quite poetic for The Tale of the Princess Kaguya to win an Oscar the same year co-founder Hayao Miyazaki won an honourary Oscar.
This was my third year watching the Oscars at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, with the communal atmosphere helping with the tedium of watching a four hour long awards show (plus two hours of red carpet). Once again, the broadcast was sponsored by Hollywood Suite and was hosted this year by the Toronto-based sketch comedy duo The Templeton Philharmonic. I ended up winning a Hollywood Suite giftbag (which included among other things a blu-ray of Joe and the soundtrack for Inside Llewyn Davis) for coming up on stage and attempting to recite the “Ornithologist, Philatelist, Philanthropist” phrase from Foxcatcher (for which I couldn’t even pronounce the first word).
As for the ceremony itself, despite an entertaining opening number, Neil Patrick Harris will probably end up being added to the list of underwhelming Oscar hosts, with many of his attempts at humour not landing. The best moments of the night were the performances of the Best Song nominees “Everything is Awesome” and “Glory,” along with a surprisingly well-done Sound of Music medley by Lady Gaga, who demonstrated that she truly has some real singing skills. On a small side note, I did notice that there were quite a few spoilers in the clips this year, particularly for Best Actress, which had spoilers for both Gone Girl and Wild.
While many have now written off the Oscars, I still have fun watching them every year. While the film I wanted to win didn’t get the big prize this year, there will always be next year when I get to do this all over again.