They Shoot Oscar Prognosticators, Don’t They?

Birdman Triumphs at Politicized Oscars

By J. Don Birnam

February 23, 2015

I pledge allegiance to the Academy, for which it stands...

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Birdman defeated Boyhood last night and won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Director. Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne, Patricia Arquette, and J.K. Simmons each took home expected and deserved Oscars. All of the Best Picture nominees won at least one Oscar. There were few true surprises, and the speeches were the most politicized in years. With that, the 2014 Oscars season came to a thunderous close.

Alejandro González Iñárritu joined a select group of individuals who have won three Oscars for the same movie when his movie won screenplay, upsetting Wes Anderson in The Grand Budapest Hotel. This group includes The Coen Brothers, Woody Allen, and James Cameron, among others. In the end, the consensus picks triumphed almost everywhere, as the Oscars remained predictable as ever. Boyhood’s loss seems both brutal and predictable. Meanwhile, The Grand Budapest Hotel tied Birdman’s four Oscar wins, and Whiplash didn’t do so poorly itself, netting three Oscars.

Most of the other categories went to the consensus picks. I guess the biggest surprise to me was Big Hero 6’s defeat of How to Train Your Dragon 2. It makes some sense - after The LEGO Movie snub, people just assumed that Dragon would take it, but Big Hero 6 is such an amazing movie, it’s not hard to see why it won. Birdman’s defeat of Budapest in the Original Screenplay race also makes some sense - they like to shore up their Best Picture pics by giving it more Oscars. It’s a shame that had to come at the expense of Wes Anderson, whose picture won four technical Oscars but not any of the main ones. These include Score, Make-up, Costumes, and Production Design.


Whiplash won Editing and Sound Mixing - as I can say I proudly predicted weeks ago before it became the consensus pick - to shore up its deserving win for Best Supporting Actor. Selma took home Best Original Song, American Sniper won Best Sound Editing, The Imitation Game won Best Adapted Screenplay, and The Theory of Everything and Boyhood took home acting prizes. So they spread the wealth as most expected. Alexandre Desplat finally has an Oscar, after winning for the score of The Grand Budapest Hotel, and so does Julianne Moore. Those were my highlights of the night.

The big story has to be that the speeches this year were more political than usual. Patricia Arquette began it by calling for equal pay for women, which led to standing ovations from Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez in a strange but touching moment. Common spoke about incarceration rates and discrimination against African-Americans when he accepted the Oscar for “Glory,” and the screenwriter for the Imitation Game spoke of the difficulties of growing up as a gay individual. Julianne Moore spoke of Alzheimer’s, and Eddie Redmayne spoke of ALS disease. And, not surprisingly, Laura Poitras spoke about government spying when she took the stage to accept the Oscar for CITIZENFOUR.

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