Groundbreakers, veterans and newcomers flocked together for the 87th Academy Awards on Sunday night, also simply known as ‘the Oscars’.
Alejandro Iñárritu’s dark comedy, Birdman, took the top Best Picture prize.
A double winner with the Best Director award, the Mexican Iñárritu reached out to his countrymen:
“I want to dedicate this award for my fellow Mexicans, the ones who live in Mexico. I pray that we can find and build the government that we deserve.”
Alfonso Cuarón was the first Mexican to win Best Director, last year, for Gravity.
Iñárritu’s story of a former superhero actor attempting an improbable comeback on Broadway won its third and fourth Oscars for Cinematography and Original Screenplay.
Julianne Moore won Best Actress as a university professor with Alzheimer’s disease in Still Alice, her first Oscar after four previous nominations. She picked up Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and BAFTA awards earlier this year.
Moore beamed: “Thank you so much. I read an article that said that winning an Oscar could lead to living five years longer. If that’s true, I’d really like to thank the Academy because my husband is younger than me!”
Moore, who is 54, in Still Alice plays a lecturer who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at 50.
British actor Eddie Redmayne won Best Actor with his portrayal of superstar physicist Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. The Oscar followed Golden Globe, SAG and British BAFTA trophies for Redmayne’s performance.
Brandishing his statuette, Redmayne said: “This belongs to all of those people around the world battling ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). It belongs to one exceptional family: Stephen, Jane [Hawking’s first wife], Jonathan [whom Jane married later] and the Hawking children.”
Redmayne spent seven months preparing to play Hawking, meeting him a few days before filming started.
Patricia Arquette won her first Oscar for her Supporting Actress role as a mother struggling to bring up two children in Boyhood. The film directed by Richard Linklater (over a span of 12 years) had six nominations but Arquette’s was the only one confirmed.
JK Simmons won his first Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor, playing a demanding jazz teacher who pushes a drummer to the edge in Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash. The film also won for Sound Mixing and Film Editing.
Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel won four technical awards out of its nine nominations: Best Costume Design, Makeup, Production Design and Score.
The award for Best Foreign-Language Film went to the Polish Ida, in which Director Pawel Pawlikowski tells the story of a novice nun who discovers she is Jewish.
Lise Pedersen talked to Brandi Hitt, who is with ABC News, just as post-award partying was getting started:
“So, Brandi, you were there in the Dolby Theater, rubbing shoulders with the cream of the crop of Hollywood. What were the highlights for you tonight?”
Brandi Hitt, ABC News, Los Angeles, USA: “Lisa, I really think it was the Best Picture win for Birdman, and also Best Director [for Alejandro González Iñárritu], that took a lot of people by surprise. Throughout the award season, a lot of people — critics agree — that it was likely between Boyhood and Birdman for the category of Best Director and Best Picture, Boyhood winning many awards early in the awards season, Birdman sort of coming up towards the end, and Birdman really taking home both big awards at the end of the day.”
euronews: “So, four wins for Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel [directed by Wes Anderson] as well, but what about Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, which only picked up the expected Best Supporting Actress for Patricia Arquette. Is that a disappointment?”
Hitt: “I think it was for the fans of the makers of Boyhood. This movie was 12 years in the making and it really did take Hollywood by surprise. Just how many awards it was winning throughout the awards season… Many people thought that, because it took 12 years to make this film and just watching the actors grow and age on screen, it deserved a lot of recognition. And it was nominated. It has won several awards throughout the season. But in the end people really enjoyed Birdman. They loved the director and how if you ever… If you watched the film, it looked like it was a seamless, continuous film. Boyhood, obviously Patricia Arquette getting Best Supporting Actress, also you had Ethan Hawke who was nominated, but in the end it just didn’t make the mark, I guess, and the Academy voters decided to go with Birdman.”
euronews: “Let’s talk about American Sniper, Clint Eastwood’s film, [with] just one win, a film which has been a box office hit. How do we explain the gap between the public and the Academy voters’ choice?”
Hitt: “Half the box office draw went to American Sniper and the remaining seven films combined filled the other half. That’s pretty shocking. Many thought American Sniper might actually win Best Picture because it was such a huge blockbuster in the movie theatres, but it did not. Just an interesting aspect to see was Clint Eastwood getting a lot of credit [and] Bradley Cooper (who we’ve seen walk the Red Carpet here not too long ago, leaving the Oscars ceremony), getting a lot of credit for his role, a phenomenal role as the lead actor, but it [American Sniper] didn’t walk away with many awards this evening.”
euronews: “So, a second Best Director gong for a Mexican film maker, a sign of things to come from Mexican cinema, maybe?”
Hitt: “He did wow the crowd, and when you saw him win Best Director it was nice to see the crowd respond. A lot of people thought he was going to win for that concept I told you about, that continuous movement in Birdman. Some of those shots look like they took fifteen minutes to film with one camera with a point of view. It was very unique. And it is nice to see a little bit of ethnicity brought into the Oscars.”
euronews: “Yes indeed, especially coming on the back of the win of Twelve Years a Slave last year. How can this be explained?”
Hitt: “There were some who were critical of the nominees this year because many of the Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress… they are all white, and you even heard the host Neil Patrick Harris mention it in a joke that didn’t get that many laughs. He said that this was the whitest not the brightest Oscars crowd. [“Tonight we celebrate Hollywoods best and whitest, sorry brightest.”] It was a little awkward, right off the top of the ceremony, but it did shine a spotlight, and a lot of people have been talking about it this season. They think the Oscars do need to be more diverse. So it was nice to see Best Director go… you know, show a little bit of diversity in winning that category.”