2015 Academy Awards: ‘Birdman’ cops Best Picture, Director

“Boyhood” mostly fails to place, in spite of lengthy efforts. Actor, actress categories pretty much fall into place, while top song “Glory” gets a bone.

Neil Patrick Harris emcees the 2015 Oscars.
Neil Patrick Harris emceed the 2015 Academy Awards telecast. (Image credit: ABC, Sunday's Academy Award network host)

WASHINGTON, February 23, 2015 – For this critic at least, last night’s Oscars were a mixed bag. I got the actors right and the rest of the major categories wrong in my February 22 Oscar Preview. “Boyhood”−whose compelling story was the impressive product of heroic efforts, inspiration and dedication−failed to place (save for one major award) while the oddball but somewhat sentimental favorite, “Birdman,” copped two of the coveted top spots (but none for star Michael Keaton) in a night that ran relatively briskly but still far too long. Maybe if “Boyhood” had been about a girl…

By most lights, Neil Patrick Harris did an energetic but mostly OK job as the star-studded evening’s emcee, taking reasonably tempered pokes at this year’s “lily white” awards, scoring with some bits and losing the audience on others that fell flat.

Lest we keep you awake any longer, here’s the final list of Academy Award winners in the top categories—the ones most readers care about. Plus one, which we didn’t discuss in yesterday’s article but which bears mention here:

Best Picture:

“Birdman.” Alejandro G. Iñárritu, John Lesher and James W. Skotchdopole, Producers.

Best Director:

Alejandro G. Iñárritu, “Birdman.”

Best Actor:

Eddie Redmayne in “The Theory of Everything.”

Best Actress:

Julianne Moore in “Still Alice.”

Best Supporting Actor:

J.K. Simmons in “Whiplash.”

Best Supporting Actress:

Patricia Arquette in “Boyhood.”

Best Original Screenplay:

“Birdman.” Written by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. and Armando Bo.

Best Adapted Screenplay:

“The Imitation Game.” Adapted by Graham Moore

We didn’t pitch a “best song” guess yesterday for, perhaps, idiosyncratic reasons.

We haven’t been tracking the “Best Song” award category since the Academy began to soil its nest in 2005 by adding an element of political correctness to this selection. This trend has shaded many Oscar picks since then, and it came back to haunt the Academy again this year.

While shunning the MLK biopic “Selma” in most categories for a variety of obvious and unobvious reasons (including the usual cronyism), the Academy did toss a bone to that film’s cast, crew and producers by awarding the film’s feature song, “Glory,” with Best Song.

Could that have been why a planned protest against the Oscar Award telecast never materialized?

According to “The Root”:

“The planned protest by Los Angeles civil rights groups outside Sunday’s Oscar show was cancelled at the request of film director Ava DuVernay, according to the Los Angeles Times. DuVernay directed the best picture-nominated film Selma.

“‘The Los Angeles chapter of the National Action Network has agreed to forgo our planned protests of the Oscars today and pursue instead a direct dialogue with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences,’ the local chapter’s political director, Najee Ali, said in a statement.”

Were the demonstrators tipped off ahead of time about the impending award, giving them time and rationale to cancel? Was this the real reason why “Glory” got the award? We’ll likely never know. But such a weird conclusion marks another chapter in how “Best Song” has become another political football in the weird, leftist world of Hollywood.

One thing, at least, is for sure, though: It wasn’t Bush’s fault.

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Terry Ponick
Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17