Other than having probably one of the worst hosts of the Oscars, unnecessary racist jokes (courtesy of the ever wonderful Sean Penn and Neil Patrick Harris), as well as a lack of diversity in nominees and winners (what else is new?), the 87th Academy Awards was full of wonderful performances and speeches that earned recognition from fans around the world.
1. J.K. Simmons’ Best Supporting Actor Win
Although his outstanding performance in the movie Whiplash was filled with harsh words and ruthless criticisms, J.K. Simmons’ speech was, on the contrary, family-friendly as he urged audience members to not text, but call their parents as soon as he was done with his speech to let them know how much they loved them. The audience stood up for him in respect when his name was called, and Simmons proceeded up the stage to recite the usual suspects to whom he was thankful for.
2. Patricia Arquette’s Best Supporting Actress Win
Patricia Arquette was nominated for her role in Boyhood, a single mother who is struggling to support the welfare of not only herself but her children. The movie was able to shed light on issues often undermined today, and although, like Simmons, the audience stood up for her out of respect in her successful win, it was her acceptance speech that made the crowd roar with agreement. Arquette, after listing who she was thankful for, launched into speaking about gender inequality that was still happening today on the work scene. It was, more or less, referring to a Sony-related leak from the end of last year that showed that Jennifer Lawrence was paid less than her male co-workers for her role in the movie American Hustle. 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.” This was met with great enthusiasm from the crowd, especially from Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez, who enthusiastically cheered in agreement.
3. The Sound of Music Medley/Tribute by Lady Gaga
When news spread that Lady Gaga would be performing at The Oscars, anyone couldn’t help but have a hint of doubt that the notoriously unique singer would bring an unorthodox element to her performance that would – in one way or another – surprise the audience of some of Hollywood’s finest. But when she stepped on the stage and finished her performance, the crowd was speechless, and resorted to a standing ovation instead. The surprise appearance of the original woman of The Sound of Music, Julie Andrews, was a pleasant surprise to the audience as well.
4. Graham Moore’s acceptance speech
Graham Moore, a newbie to the Hollywood A-List gang, captured everyone’s attention with his tear-jerking, heartwarming speech. Confessing about how in his teenage years, he attempted to commit suicide, Moore then went on to encourage all the kids who feel like they don’t “fit in” to know that they feel that way because they are special, but that they truly do belong in this world and have a place in society. Moore won his award for Best Writing Adapted Screenplay for the movie The Imitation Game.
5. “Glory” performance and win by John Legend and Common
With tensions between races heating up in the United States, John Legend and Common gave a Grammy-worthy performance of their song “Glory” from the movie Selma, which was nominated for Best Picture this year. With a backdrop similar to the famed bridge in Selma which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. walked across, John Legend sang his heart out while on the piano while Common gave out a smooth rap flow to accompany Legend’s famously melodic vocals. It was one of those performances that made you feel something within, something that shook you because of how audibly and visually empowering it is. Additionally, Legend and Common won Best Original Song for “Glory” — and rightly so.
6. Julianne Moore’s Best Actress Win
Longtime Hollywood A-List Julianne Moore took home an Oscar-Man for her astounding performance in Still Alice, where she plays a mother struggling to keep herself and her family together as her memory rapidly deteriorates due to Alzheimer’s Disease. With a tangible, real performance by Moore alongside Alec Baldwin and Kristen Stewart, Moore received a well-deserved standing ovation as she went up to receive her award, and even joked about being able to live five more years because she received the accolade. Let’s hope she does.
7. Eddie Redmayne’s Best Actor Win
With a face of a sweetheart, a voice of an angel, and a heart of a saint, Eddie Redmayne’s win for Best Actor clearly caught the Brit off-guard. As a matter of fact, it was a mixed reaction that’s quite hard to put into words. Redmayne was responsible for portraying a rather difficult role of Stephen Hawking and the love story that began with his future-wife Jane Hawking, and how his disease of ALS became a disruption and battle for him to fight at all fronts. Redmayne’s painstaking research and work that went behind perfecting the character of Hawking was well publicized and talked about during the production process, and it was nice to see Redmayne receive recognition for his efforts. Claiming that he would be the Oscar’s “janitor,” Redmayne even freaked out a bit on stage before finishing off his speech.
8. Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) Best Picture win
Although I’m still at a bit of a distaste about the man who presented this award as well as what he had to say to the director, Birdman deserved every bit of the win for Best Picture. Despite the lacking box office sales compared to its competitors, Birdman also took home the Best Director award with Alejandro G. Iñárritu, who even claimed that he was in his “Michael Keaton…tighty whities.” Way to give a visual! But Birdman was almost expected to win this, as it won other prestigious accolades at previous banquets and award shows. But when its win was announced, the director and producers pulled up with them the main actors and actresses such as Emma Stone, Edward Norton, and Michael Keating himself, who took part in reciting the acceptance speech.
– Faith Choi (’16)
Header: Kevin Winter, Getty Images
Captions: Faith Choi (’16)