‘Birdman’ takes flight at an Oscars punctuated by politics
Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Freeman) - February 24, 2015 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines – The long take of “Birdman” has stretched all the way to the Academy Awards, where the jazzy, surreal comedy about an actor fleeing his superhero past took Hollywood’s top honor in a ceremony punctuated by passionate pleas for equality.

The 87th annual Academy Awards — which came in humbled by backlash to its all-white acting nominees — bristled with politics and heartfelt speeches about women’s rights, immigration, suicide prevention, governmental surveillance and race.

In a battle of B-movies for best picture, the Oscars awarded “Birdman” best picture, opting for a movie that epitomizes Hollywood — showy, ego-mad, desperate for artistic credibility — over one (“Boyhood”) that prized naturalism and patience. “Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” also won best director for Mexican filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, best original screenplay and best cinematography.

“Maybe next year the government will inflict immigration restrictions,” said Innaritu, recalling last year’s best director winner, Alfonso Cuaron. “Two Mexicans in a row. That’s suspicious, I guess.”

Inarritu, a larger-than-life figure of frizzy hair, regularly wrapped in a scarf, concluded the night’s many moving speeches that called for societal progress. Innaritu said he prays his native country finds “a government we deserve” and that immigrants to the U.S. “can be treated with the same dignity and the respect of the ones who came before and built this incredible immigrant nation.”

The ceremony at the Dolby Theatre, hosted by Tony Award veteran Neil Patrick Harris, was heavy on song-and-dance to near-Grammy levels. Lady Gaga lavishly performed “The Hills Are Alive” from “The Sound of Music” with a rapt Julie Andrews looking on.

The awards overwhelmingly went to less-seen indie films and were widely spread around. All eight of the best-picture nominees won awards, including Eddie Redmayne for best actor for his technically nuanced performance as Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything.”

All of the big winners were first-timers, including best actress winner Julianne Moore, who won for her performance as an academic with early onset Alzheimer’s in “Still Alice.”

Harris gave the Academy Awards a cheery tone that sought to celebrate Hollywood, while also slyly parodying it. “Tonight we honor Hollywood’s best and whitest — I mean brightest,” he began the night, alluding to this year’s all-white acting nominees.

Though Richard Linklater’s 12-years-in-making “Boyhood” was the critical favorite for much of awards season, it won only best supporting actress for Arquette.

“To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation,” said Arquette. “We have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once for all. And equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

Cheers erupted throughout, perhaps the loudest coming from a fellow supporting-actress nominee Arquette bested: Meryl Streep. “Made my night,” Streep told Arquette backstage.

Tears streamed down the face of David Oyelowo, who played the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in “Selma” and was infamously left out of the best actor nominees, during the rousing performance of the song “Glory” from the film. Immediately afterward, Common and Legend accepted the best song Oscar with a speech that drew a standing ovation.

Graham Moore also moved the star-studded audience in his acceptance speech for best adapted screenplay for his “The Imitation Game” script. Moore said when he was 16 years old he tried to kill himself. “Stay weird, stay different,” he implored.

Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” a European caper released in March when many awards contenders were still shooting, tied for the most Oscars with “Birdman.” The academy awarded Anderson’s confection with awards for production design, score, costume design and makeup and styling.

The best supporting Oscar went to Simmons, a career character actor widely acclaimed for one of his biggest parts: a drill sergeant of a jazz instructor in the indie “Whiplash.”

Most of the early awards went as expected, though Disney’s “Big Hero 6” pulled off something of an upset in the best animated feature category, besting DreamWorks’ favored “How to Train Your Dragon 2.”

The black-and-white Polish film “Ida” took best foreign language film, marking the first such win for Poland despite a rich cinema history.

Several of this year’s biggest box-office hit nominees had to settle for single wins in technical categories. “Interstellar” won for visual effects, while “American Sniper” — far and away the most widely seen of the best-picture nominee — took the best sound editing award.

The Edward Snowden documentary “Citizenfour,” in which Laura Poitras captured Snowden in the midst of leaking National Security Agency documents, won best documentary.

“The disclosures that Edward Snowden reveals don’t only expose a threat to our privacy but to our democracy itself,” said Poitras, accepting the Oscar. “When the most important decisions being made affecting all of us are made in secret, we lose our ability to check the powers that control.”

As Hollywood studios have increasingly focused on mounting global blockbusters, the Oscars have become largely the providence of smaller indies. (AP)

ACADEMY AWARDS ALEJANDRO GONZALEZ INARRITU ALFONSO CUARON AMERICAN SNIPER ARQUETTE AS HOLLYWOOD AWARDS BEST BIG HERO EDWARD SNOWDEN
  • Latest
Latest
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

SIGN IN
or sign in with