Neil Patrick Harris, who has now hosted a staggering 10 awards shows, opened the 87th Oscars with a bang as he quipped “Welcome to the 87th Oscars, tonight we honor Hollywood’s best and whitest.” Harris was clearly making fun of Hollywood’s historical lack of diversity. This lack of diversity continued strong in Sunday’s show with only one film not featuring a white lead actor (Selma) being featured in the Best Picture Nominations. Expectations were very high for Harris and he seemed prepared to meet them with his opening line. Viewers’ confidence only continued to rise with the following musical performance starring Jack Black and Anna Kendrick.
Unfortunately the vibrant mood set by his opening musical monologue seemed to steadily deteriorate throughout the show. The 87th Oscars, though still engaging, seemed rather vapid. While Harris certainly had his moments throughout the show, the edgy tone set in his opener was not sustained through the entire event leaving viewers dissatisfied.
While Harris certainly made some comical comments and introductions (including joking about Edward Snowden’s absence), he also compared Oprah Winfrey to American Sniper’s box office earnings stating “American Sniper is Oprah. 'Cause you're rich." Harris also made light of Chris Kyle’s 160 kills in Iraq stating, “Chris Kyle is the most prolific sniper in history with over 160 confirmed kills. Or as Harvey Weinstein calls it ‘A slow morning.’” These jokes came across to viewers as insensitive and certainly did not bolster the overall opinion of Harris’s performance as a host. Harris may have salvaged his reputation in the eyes of some viewers when, about an hour into the show, he emerged on stage stripped down to his whitey tighties.
The real winners of Sunday night’s show were the films Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel. Both of these films emerged with four awards. Birdman came out on top by winning the coveted Best Picture Award. In addition to this prestigious prize, this film garnered awards for Best Director (Alejandro González Iñárritu), Best Original Screenplay Writing (Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris and Armando Bo) and Best Cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki).
The Grand Budapest Hotel received awards for Best Costume Design (Milena Canonero), Best Makeup and Hairstyling (Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier), Best Production Design (Adam Stockhausen) and Best Original Music Score (Alexandre Desplat). The award for Best Actor was given to Eddie Redmayne for his performance as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, and Best Actress went to Julianne Moore for her performance in Still Alice.
A few noteworthy musical performances also occurred during Sunday night’s show. Lady Gaga astounded the audience with her tribute to the film The Sound of Music, which was celebrating it’s 50th anniversary. Labeled by critics such as Alex Young from consequenceofsound.net as, “The best performance of her career,” Lady Gaga’s presentation was certainly a high point. Another stunning musical presentation was given by John Legend and Common. Their rendition of the winning original song “Glory” from the film Selma left the audience emotional and speechless.
On quite another note, John Travolta also left many people speechless with his awkward and often invasive use of his hands throughout the show. From kissing Scarlett Johansson to holding the chin of Idina Menzel, Travolta was on a roll to compete with his gaffe from last year when he called Idina Menzel “Adele Dazeem.” Another bold move was made by actress Patricia Arquette who, after accepting the award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Boyhood, gave an impassioned acceptance speech in which she called for equal rights, stating, “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America!” This bold speech elicited a large response from social media as well as the in-house audience, including Meryl Streep who jumped out of her seat, pointed her finger in the air and repeatedly yelled, “Yes!”
The 87th Oscars, while a drag at times due to Harris’s somewhat lackluster performance, did not fail to produce a number of excellent moments. Awards were given; acceptance speeches and comedic quips were made; Alzheimer's, ASL and Hollywood’s lack of diversity were all given a moment in the spotlight; and, to the relief of many viewers, at 11:30 PM the show ended. With the 87th Oscars behind us, we can look forward to another year of quality films, all vying for a spot at the 88th Oscars, or as Neil Patrick Harris called them, “The Dependent Spirit Awards.” Oh, and according to Harris, "Travolta will be back next year to apologise for all the face-touching."