Controversy surrounded the 2015 Academy Awards when the film “Selma” was left out of a number of big awards, primarily actor in a leading role and directing, despite the films high critical acclaim. LATimes.com discovered Oscar voters are 94 percent Caucasian, 77 percent male and only 14 percent are under the age of 50.
Ironically, during the 87th Academy Awards on Feb. 22, the theme of the awards ceremony was diversity. From the performances, to the award winners, to the powerful speeches, the entire show displayed many different artists and addressed many different issues that America faces.
The Oscar’s host, Neil Patrick Harris, kicked off the show by poking fun at the Academy. Harris said, “Tonight we honor Hollywood’s best and whitest—sorry brightest.” But from there, Harris broke into a musical number featuring Anna Kendrick and Jack Black that paid homage to the history of cinema.
Some people were disappointed in the results for the film “Boyhood”. It was nominated for six Academy Awards and only managed to come away with one win. Patricia Arquette won the Oscar for best actress in a supporting role. The one victory speech however, did not go to waste. Arquette said, “To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”
Graham Moore won the Oscar for best original screenplay for “The Imitation Game”, but he did not receive a standing ovation until the end of his acceptance speech. Moore said:
When I was 16-years-old, I tried to kill myself, because I felt weird and I felt different and I felt like I did not belong, and now I’m standing here. So I would like this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she’s weird or she’s different or she doesn’t fit in anywhere. Yes you do. I promise you do. Stay weird, stay different, and then when it is your turn and you are standing on this stage, please pass on the same message.
Emotions ran high in the building when John Legend and Common performed “Glory” from the movie “Selma”. David Oyelowo, who played Martin Luther King Jr. in the film, was brought to tears in the crowd.
Immediately after finishing “Glory”, it won the Oscar for original song. John Legend said during the acceptance speech:
We wrote this song for a film that was based on events that were 50 years ago, but we say that ‘Selma’ is now because the struggle for justice is right now. We know that the voting act that they fought for 50 years ago is being compromised right now, in this country today. We know that right now, the struggle for freedom and justice is real. We live in the most incarcerated country in the world. There are more black men under correctional control today, than were under slavery in 1850. When people are marching with our song, we want to tell you we are with you, we see you, we love you, and march on.
Eddie Redmayne took home the best actor in a leading role Oscar for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking. He dedicated the award to Hawking and his family, as well as the people around the world battling ALS.
Julianne Moore, who won the Oscar for best actress in a leading role with “Still Alice”, also had a message for people. Moore said:
I’m so happy, I’m thrilled actually, that we were able to hopefully shine a light on Alzheimer’s disease. So many people with this disease feel isolated and marginalized. One of the wonderful things about movies is that it makes us feel seen and not alone. People with Alzheimer’s deserve to be seen so that we can find a cure.
Eight films were nominated for best picture including:”American Sniper”, “Birdman”, “Boyhood”, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, “The Imitation Game”, “Selma”, “The Theory of Everything” and “Whiplash”. Of course only one film could win the big award, but every other film nominated took home at least one Oscar.
Michael Keaton, star of the film “Birdman”, mentioned on the red carpet before the show that he likes to compare acting with sporting events. He said, “This is the Super Bowl, I guess.” Well, he won the Lombardi Trophy. “Birdman” came away with four Oscar’s including the coveted award for best picture. “Birdman” director Alejandro GonzÃ¡lez IÃ±Ã¡rritu also won for best directing.
One of the night’s biggest winners was “The Grand Budapest Hotel” which tied with “Birdman” for the most Oscars of the night with four. Its Oscar wins came for original score, makeup and hair styling, production design and costume design.
“American Sniper” won the Oscar for best sound editing. Harris pointed out that the eight films nominated for best picture made roughly $600 million collectively. Despite “American Sniper” only taking one Oscar, it was the winner at the box office exceeding $300 million on its own.
There were also a handful of big musical performances. Maroon 5 performed “Lost Stars,”
Tegan and Sara, The Lonely Island, Will Arnett and Questlove performed “Everything is Awesome,” Tim McGraw performed “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” and Rita Ora performed “Grateful”.
The traditional “In Memoriam” paid tribute to entertainment industry greats who have passed away. This year the montage featured stars such as Mickey Rooney, James Garner, Maya Angelou, Richard Attenborough, Robin Williams, Charles Chaplin, Bob Hoskins, Mike Nichols and many more talented individuals.
At the conclusion of “In Memoriam,” Jennifer Hudson had a strong and emotional performance of the song “I Can’t Let Go.”
Finally, Lady Gaga paid tribute to “The Sound of Music” and Julie Andrews with a vocal performance. Even Andrews herself was honored by Gaga’s performance.
“Dear Lady Gaga, thank you for that wonderful tribute,” Andrews said. “It’s hard to believe that 50 years have gone by since that joyous film was released.”
The awards were highlighted by serious topics such as equality and suicide, funny moments such as Jack Black making fun of the superhero movement in film, and even awkward moments like John Travolta violating the concept of personal space. The 2015 Academy Awards opened the door for many important discussions while also providing just the right amount of comical relief.