Oscar the Grouch

Usually, Oscar season is the most exciting time of the movie year for me. People love to complain about awards shows, and I get it. Their complaints are not unfounded. I completely ignore the Grammys. I'll watch the opening number of the Tonys, and skip the rest. I'll read about the Emmy winners the next day. But when it comes to the Oscars, I'm in. Every year. No matter how much they stink. And yet this year, I have to open with an apology for a lackluster post to come, because the 2015 Oscars was one of the dullest slogs I've ever sat through. Maybe my relatively low number of movies watched in 2014 was a sign! There just wasn't that much to celebrate.

Thank goodness I was at a small house party, where I could be distracted by cute dogs and good snacks and fun people and catty remarks about celebrities' clothing. The most shocking letdown was Neil Patrick Harris' hosting job. I was so optimistic about it going in, and though the opening number was cute, a sackload of stale puns and drawn-out gimmicks soon mired him in eye-rolling mediocrity.

Also, I didn't fill out an official ballot this year, which turned out to be a good thing, because I wouldn't have scored very well. That was another thing I didn't like about this year; I just plain didn't care for a lot of the winners. We'll get to why in the individual categories, but as far as the overall ceremony goes? Zzzzz....


And hey, here's one of those categories now! Birdman? Really? As you'll recall, I didn't care for this movie as much as a lot of people did. It seemed to me like a pretty shallow stab at critiquing the state of modern art, but I should have known. Hollywood LOVES to pat itself on the back by giving awards to movies about Great Artists Rising Above it All. I would have been much more satisfied with a Boyhood or Selma win, but I can take heart in one thing: At least Birdman did something different. It wasn't a tepid, sanded-down hagiography. So while I'm not thrilled about its win, I was happy to see it defeat The Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game.


Eddie Redmayne wins for The Theory of Everything. Shrug. I would have given it to Michael Keaton, but by all accounts, Redmayne did a fantastic job, and if it couldn't be Keaton, he's the only other acceptable choice.


I doubt I'll ever see Still Alice, but I'm not letting that dampen my enthusiasm for Julianne Moore's win. She's been nominated so many times, and this movie made so little impact, that I think we've got a textbook example of Compensatory Oscar on our hands. A lot of people don't care for those, but I have no issue with them, as long as a compensatory win doesn't take the award out of the hands of someone more deserving. And this year? It didn't. (Though I did really love Rosamund Pike's performance in Gone Girl. Just had to put that out there.) So yay!


Everyone knew it was going to be J.K. Simmons for Whiplash, and it was. I haven't had an opportunity to see the movie yet, though I'm actively looking forward to it. And I really like Simmons in general, so I'm pleased about his win. He also gave a very cute acceptance speech in which he pleaded with everyone watching to go give their parents a call.


This was the one "main" category that made me happy. There's a lot to like about Boyhood, but as I said in my post about it, Patricia Arquette was the big standout for me. She did an absolutely fantastic job in that movie, and I'm really chuffed that she was recognized for it. She also veered into a passionate acceptance speech that advocated for equal wages for women, which I can definitely get behind. Next time she's nominated, all she has to do is take the time to run a comb through her hair, and we'll be all set!


Alejandro G. Iñárritu took it for Birdman. Nope. Nope, nope, nope. They may as well have put this award in a sack with dollar bill signs on the side, this was such a robbery. What, exactly, could Richard Linklater have done any better? Even if it couldn't have been him, Wes Anderson would have been a more acceptable choice. But whatever. This isn't even the most head-scratching win for Birdman. Look down for that.


Birdman?!? This is one of the few categories that I actually wouldn't give the award to Boyhood, since that script wasn't the reason the movie was such an achievement. But The Grand Budapest Hotel is sitting right there. This is the category that quirky little offbeat movies often win, since they don't have much clout in the Picture/Director races. The Grand Budapest Hotel had a charming, breezy, intricate script, and deserved this win, hands down. But sure, let's give the award to a script that has a three-minute fight about what social media pages the main character has.


I didn't particularly care who won this category, so kudos to Graham Moore for winning for The Imitation Game. Fewer kudos to his disjointed acceptance speech, in which he enjoined the audience to accept themselves and their weirdness, but insists that despite the strong overtones, his speech had nothing to do with the LGBT community. Yes, the inspiration for the script written about a man who was chemically castrated for being gay is about non-gay people accepting their own weirdness, but no so weird that they may be attracted to their own gender.


Big Hero 6. Didn't deserve it, but since the movie that did deserve it wasn't even nominated... Sure, why not?


Poland wins for Ida, which I haven't seen, but as soon as they announce it, my friend Tiffany tells me that I'll enjoy the hell out of it. To the Netflix queue!


Birdman. OK, I did like the camera work in that movie, so I suppose I can begrudgingly accept this one, especially given the next two categories.


The Grand Budapest Hotel. Yes!


The Grand Budapest Hotel. YES!


What's weird is that I expected that Citizenfour winning this award would lead to the most politically-charged acceptance speech of the evening. But no, the winners sedately thanked a list of people, then shuffled off.


Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1. I haven't seen any of the documentary shorts, so I have no evidence that this didn't deserve the win. What I can assert is that the title needs some work.


Whiplash. Did Richard Linklater throw rocks through all of the voters' windows? How could Boyhood not win an editing award?


Interstellar. As of Oscar time, I still haven't seen it, which is unacceptable. I really need to get on top of that.


Another visual win for The Grand Budapest Hotel, which I'm always happy to see.


And here's an audio win for The Grand Budapest Hotel as well! It's nice to see such a fun movie picking up a lot of awards, but I do feel bad for Wes Anderson, who is consistently dismissed, even as his work is lauded.


The presentation of "Everything is Awesome" from The Lego Movie was... Well, awesome. It brought some much-needed levity to the ceremony, too. I was pulling for it to win, but have absolutely zero problem with "Glory" from Selma taking the prize. I'm not as sure about the directorial choice to cut to every black member of the audience after the performance of it, like, "Look, we're honoring black people! Not in any of the acting categories, but see? There they are!!!" It's a powerful song, and the sheer whiteness of this year's nominees (in most categories) is a good reminder that there's still a lot of work to be done.


Feast was the only animated short I saw, and it was super-cute, so even though Big Hero 6 is being over-praised, it was nice to see this one win.


The Phone Call. Okay, if you say so!


This is the sole award to go to American Sniper. And sound editing is the perfect award for jingoistic war movies, so everyone's happy. Everyone except the people who insist that a big liberal cabal conspired to get this movie made, release it, get it nominated for Oscars, and then not vote for it. Damned pinkos!


Whiplash. I mean, you could tell me that The Smurfs 2 had the best sound mixing of the year, and I'd believe you, so sure.

So, that's that! It was a boring year with mostly unsatisfying winners. Here's hoping that next year, I'll have more to be excited about than the almond cupcakes at the Oscar party.


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