Needed a few days break to absorb all this post-Oscar posturing. Excited to begin the new season (like it or not, I’ll soon be bringing you my very first review of a 2015 released film–“The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water 3D”…can you stand the wait?!), after an extremely average (for me, anyway) 6-for-9 prediction night concerning the Academy Awards. Oh, I got the big ones correct (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress), but I blew both crucial screenplay awards. “Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”, and its FOUR screenwriters, managed to nab the original screenplay statue from Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel”. Plus, “The Imitation Game” held onto its odds-on favorite status to fend off the burgeoning advancement of Damien Chazelle’s “Whiplash”. I can accept both missed picks, and, in each case, I correctly identified what could vanquish my official choices. I’m much more perturbed about failing to identify the Best Animated Feature victor, with frontrunner “How to Train Your Dragon 2” falling to the big Disney machine offering of “Big Hero 6”. I admit to not having seen “BH6” (yet), but DreamWorks seemed to have this one in the bag. So much for progress.
Yeah, Neil Patrick Harris wasn’t any good–although I doubt there are many who could captain this bloated behemoth. He wasn’t quick enough, or acerbic enough, his timing was off, and he simply didn’t take “command”. Harris opened strong by cribbing his Tony telecast work, but, except for maybe his “Birdman”-inspired underwear appearance, he was off-key and forgettable. Nice guy (it seems), strong performer, poor host…at least for the Academy Awards. Ellen was better, and (love him or hate him), Seth MacFarlane was more consistent. Yes–Billy Crystal 1990s’s hosting duties remain the gold standard (9 total gigs for BC, including 7 between 1990 and 2000). I was loving the slight political bent of the night (Patricia Arquette’s acceptance speech, John Legend and Common after taking Best Original Song with “Glory” from “Selma”, and Graham Moore accepting his award for Adapted Screenplay)–wish there was more of that. But less rotten jokes and lengthy set-ups would’ve been nice too. Bringing Travolta and Menzel together was inspired. Having Octavia Spencer guard Harris’s “predictions in a box” was awful. And yes–Lady Gaga knocked it out of the park.
Big winners were “Birdman” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” with 4 each, along with “Whiplash”, which managed 3. “Boyhood” only grabbed one award–it stinks to be that early frontrunner. After that, 9 different features took one award each (along with those already mentioned, there were trophies for “The Theory of Everything”, “Still Alice”, “Ida”, “American Sniper”, “Interstellar” and “Citizenfour”)–and some of them were even very good films. If you haven’t seen reviews of them here on the blog yet, don’t fret, they’re on the way. But, for now, let’s officially close out the 2014-15 film season, and move on to the new one. Congratulations to all the winners and nominees. Coming soon: reviews of “Force Majeure” out of Sweden, and David Cronenberg’s “Maps to the Stars”…starring Julianne Moore.