The Oscars is a tough show. I love it, but I understand that it’s hard work to get through all the awards while maintaining entertainment. Unfortunately, in a year where Picture, Director and many other technical categories were still anyone’s guess, the 87th Academy Awards and the always charming Neil Patrick Harris were quite vanilla. However, I was 16 for 21 in my predictions (I’m not counting the shorts), which by most comparisons, was pretty darn good in a difficult year to predict (Biggest shock in the Best Editing category). Sadly, my number one movie BOYHOOD didn’t do as well as I hoped and my favorite guy in the room, Michael Keaton, went home empty handed. On a positive note, I was very pleased for BIRDMAN and WHIPLASH, receiving lots of love from the Academy. But, good, bad or ugly, there were at least ten noteworthy moments of the evening for me to breakdown.
Dishonorable Mention: Time Management – Can we cut half of these boring musical numbers please? I don’t need that many bathroom breaks during the Oscars. And the running ‘predictions in a sealed envelope’ bit was oh so tiresome. It was no wonder that Robert Duvall would need to be awakened every five minutes.
10. NPH is punny – The host was extremely mild with lots of wordplay jokes. Yes, Mild, to the extreme. While I can appreciate this kind of humor especially when off the cuff, “Takes a lot of balls to where a dress like that.” most of it induces only a smile at best , “Today we celebrate our best and whitest… I mean brightest.”
9. Cry Babies – While the women kept their composure, the men had some trouble. And I’m not even talking about any of the winning accepting speeches. David Oyelowo, Chris Pine and Terrence Howard all let their tears flow. To be clear, I’m not making fun of these men as they were clearly moved by some powerfully inspirational moments, but it was a nice surprise to see such emotion from men who play strong characters on screen.
8. “Thank You, Lady Gaga” – Julie Andrews – In a shocking performance, elegantly dressed Lady Gaga sang a powerful and beautiful tribute to one of my favorite musicals, THE SOUND OF MUSIC. Julie Andrews followed with sincere gratitude, who presented the Best Score award, which ironically, I would have preferred hearing over nearly all the other song nominees.
7. Face Invaders – John Travolta awkwardly invades personal space – In a good humor effort to put last year’s name flub behind them, John Travolta presented Best Song with Idina Menzel. Unfortunately, the self-referential joke was overshadowed by all the unnecessary face-touching that occurred. Unless you are their mother or a spouse, no one should ever touch another person’s face and while we are at it lets go ahead and put a 6 inch face to face parameter distance when interacting.
6. Jack Black – While the opening number was technically well-done, it didn’t truly spark my attention until Jack Black started belting out from the audience, singing more of a Debbie Downer type juxtaposition about the usual type of movies that get made. The energy in his interruption made me laugh and his exit made me cry (see number 9).
5. Speeches and “Staying Weird” – Suicide hotlines, women’s equal pay, ALS, Alzheimers, call your parents, and a dog named Larry – Plenty of worthy problems out there that I’m sure we can all get behind. The impassioned speeches were inspired, pushing big issues in a tasteful manner. The tone was set early on when the Foreign Language winner kept thanking people through the quintessential band play-off music and ended with genuine glee from Eddie Redmayne as he could hardly contain himself after his Best Actor win.
4. “Everything Is Awesome” – This high energy, explosively crammed-pack musical number containing, Batman and a member of Devo, perfectly kept the spirit of the criminally snubbed Animated Feature, THE LEGO MOVIE. Everything about this was so… good! I bet you thought I was going to say awesome.
3. Who is John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn? – John Legend and Common performed a passionate and moving rendition of their Oscar winning song “Glory” from SELMA that received a standing ovation and brought men to tears (see number 9). Apparently the Oscars brings out the birth names in them.
2. The Movies – BIRDMAN and THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL each won 4. WHIPLASH won 3. Ten other films won 1 golden statue – In a world with so many big budget sequels and superhero movies, the big winner of the night, was the smaller artistry of filmmaking. While the Academy could have chosen more box-office driven films, they went with unique creativity, spreading the love to many worthy winners.
1. NPH goes full frontal – OK, not quite. But the most memorable moment of the evening belongs to Neil Patrick Harris spoofing a scene in BIRDMAN, which finds NPH standing on the Oscar stage in nothing but his underwear. A brave moment that will forever be remembered on Oscar clips and images when looking at the history of the big event. What makes the moment even better is the fact that he stops to criticize Miles Teller’s drumming a la WHIPLASH. Extremely mild-mannered Oscar host by day, whitey tighty superhero by night. Well done Dr. Doogie Howser, well done.