This year’s Oscars tiptoed the fine line between a car crash and extravaganza so vicariously, you didn’t know if you should have covered your eyes with your hands or used them to applaud deliriously. Because while some aspects of the Academy Awards weren’t so great; I’m looking at you Neil Patrick Harris and the major Best Picture snub, but other parts were a resounding success and pulled the show out of the brink of a black hole.
When you think the Oscars, you think big performances, dances numbers and show businesses and so on the face of it, Neil Patrick Harries seemed like the ideal host to take over at the Oscar hosting reigns. Ever since he burst onto the scene at merely 16, he had proven time and time again that he is the definition of the triple threat with a little something extra; particular when they came to fruition in his nine season stint as Barney in the sitcom How I Meet your Mother. We sat in awed silences as he used energy, charisma and confidence to sing, dance, act and magic his way into the lime light of the show and our hearts. However last night despite seeing the singing, dancing, acting and magic, it seemed NPH left all the energy, charisma and confidence on the set of HIMYM.
Although NPH did have the occasional comedic gold moment; particularly with a off the cuff comment executed to perfect timing when referring to an award presenters dress “It takes real balls to pull off a dress like that”. Then again in a sketch where he parodied the serpentine camera work behind stage in references to Birdman; only to come on stage boldly in his pants in reference to the lead Michael Keaton in the film, was truly shocking in a hilariously funny way. But taking those two moments out of the equation and NPH made joke after joke that feel to awkward silences; his attempt at impromptu interaction with crowd ended up a disjointed shamble and lacked all fluidity of Ellen the year before. As the night went on, you could tell NPH had lost the crowd and he knew it and it just diminished his confidence further and further until he had to play it safe and mundane or risk disaster.
Generally the speeches are the least enjoyable part of the entire award ceremony; in and between marauds of thank you’s and cliché stories of dreams come true, even the adverts generally offer more entertainment value. However this year the acceptance speeches undertook a surprisingly exciting political turn, with the likes of Patricia Arquette deciding to use her turn under the Oscar light and impassioned reactions from Meryl Strepp, to raise attention to the prevalent issue of wage inequality experienced by woman in Hollywood. Common and John Legend used their chances speak about the civil rights movement and the fact that more black man find themselves incarcerated today than they did enslaved in the slave trade. Then there was Graham Moore who revealed his experience with suicide and pleaded for all weird kids to stay weird because it made them special. Sometimes it’s nice to see Hollywood and its A-list stars not losing perspective during a time when they have all right to and choosing instead to show that the world of film will always firstly be about education, truth and bringing people together.
Just in the way that a score is integral to the beauty of a film, the music performances at the Oscar this year were great to lay witness too, particular because it was eclectic mix; we had rap, soul, RnB, country, pop and a classic ballad wonderfully performed by sensational music artist in the ilk of Lady Gaga, Jennifer Hudson and Tim Mcgraw. But the performance that stood out the most was one that was so tender yet powerful that it brought tears to Chris Pines and David Oyelowo and that was Glory penned and performed by Common and John Legend. You could see that the whole of the audiences were enwrapped in the moving melody and while the film represented a historic moment, Glory encapsulated a historic moment in this year’s Academy Awards.
Sometimes it’s even more enjoyable to wallow in the frustration and uproar of the films that didn’t win the statuette, than actually applaud the ones that did. So in that sense the 87th Oscars will be remembered for being possibly the most enjoyable Academy Awards since 2005, when Crash for some lunatic reason was crowned Best Picture winner over the far superior Brokeback Mountain. Because yesterday we laid witnesses to potentially an even bigger cosmic sized snub as we stood flabbergasted as the Academy failed to acknowledge the genius that was BoyHood and hail the slightly more mediocre Birdman as the best film of the year. The reason why it was such a snub is because Boyhood is like being struck by lightning just after realising you had just won the lottery; basically I’m saying Richard Linklater’s masterpiece is a once in a life time occurrences that will probably never be repeated again and it’s a shame the Oscars missed its chance to award a truly pioneering piece of film making.
On a side note in terms of other lesser snubs, I was also greatly disappointed not to see Nightcrawler even nominated for any of the big five awards, because I felt ever since watching it, without fail I always felt that Nightcrawler was a slick and sumptuous, gritty nightmare of a film that will stay with you for a life time. Also the failure to include Ava DuVernay was also a travesty, because her assured articulate directing of Selma was the main reason behind the resonating presences of the picture.
I was proud to see Grand Budapest Hotel go home toting the most awards of the evening with four in the technical categories and goes someway to thanking Wes Anderson for being the wonderfully, quirky, charming auteur that he is, especially during a golden renaissance period in his career. In terms of the acting awards, no one can argue that they didn’t go to a more deserving quartet of craftsman; Simons, Moore, Redmayne and Arquette, particularly in regards to Redmaybe his portrayal of Stephan Hawking was resoundingly memorable achievement and greatly deserving of all the plaudits and awards it has amassed. Finally, despite not dissevering Best Picture, Birdman and Emmanuel Lubezki certainly and rightly were deserving of the Best Screenplay gong for creating sword sharp dialogue, which the wonderfully exuberant and well fleshed out characters used to battle with in every scene like roman soldiers in a coliseum.
Just when a fairly poor host failed to light up the stage in a blaze of glory and instead burned it down to a heap of ashes and weak jokes. Just when snubs threatened to gate crash the biggest party on earth; I felt the powerful speeches were a real breath of fresh air to blow away the flames and because the films in the best picture category so wonderfully varied and captivating, they swept away the ashes to reveal a beautiful tapestry, testament to storytelling in 2014/15.