Ah the Oscars, the annual celebration of the very best in cinematic achievement where the film industry congregates to recognize excellence. While there were controversies heading into it (#OscarsSoWhite), the 2015 Academy Awards went ahead without a hitch and produced a number of noteworthy moments, from host Neil Patrick Harris’ opening song and dance and later “brief” appearance a la Birdman, to John Travolta’s cheek petting of Idina Menzel. Here are the Top Five Memorable Moments from the 87th Academy Awards.
5. Lady Gaga’s tribute to The Sound of Music
Lady Gaga’s performance honouring the 50th anniversary of the film version of The Sound of Music showed that her talents might even worthy of the Broadway stage. Singing the classics “The Sound of Music,” “My Favorite Things” and “Edelweiss,” what made this all the more notable was the relative simplicity behind it. In an age where we’re used to the spectacle of performance, Lady Gaga uncharacteristically sang without dancers, effects or elaborate costumes. It was a fitting and beautiful tribute that would have even made the legendary Julie Andrews proud. No doubt Rodgers and Hammerstein would share a similar sentiment.
4. Acceptance Speeches
Your name is called — you’ve just been honoured with an Academy Award. What thoughts are running through your head? The acceptance speeches in this year’s show were all memorable and inspiring in their own way, like JK Simmons’ request for viewers to call — not text — their parents, or Patricia Arquette’s plea for female wage equality. But perhaps the most touching was Graham Moore, who won for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Imitation Game. Recounting his inspiration, he said: “when I was 16 years old, I tried to kill myself. I felt weird and different and felt like I didn’t belong. Now I’m standing here and this is for any kid out there who doesn’t feel like they belong, because you do. Stay weird, stay different.”
3. Live performance of “Glory”
As part of the presentation of the nominees for Best Original Song, John Legend and Common delivered a stirring and emotional performance of their song “Glory” from the civil rights film Selma. While the film was significantly snubbed with lead actor David Oyelowo and director Ava DuVernay failing to clinch nominations, there was little doubt that the main song would receive its due praise. Featuring a soulful chorus and a model recreation of the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the very bridge that Martin Luther King led his Selma marches on, both John Legend and Common sang with passion and conviction that had everyone on their feet in applause. And then to top it all off moments later, Legend and Common were awarded the Oscar, a fitting award to an anthem about the ongoing struggle for equality and justice especially prevalent in the United States.
2. Eddie Redmayne wins Best Actor
This year’s nominees in the best acting category produced such strong work that it’s a pity only one person has to take home the award. For Eddie Redmayne, however, it was his transformative performance as theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything that sealed his victory against leading fellow nominees Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Keaton. His performance wasn’t just about capturing the slow and torturous effects of the brutality that is ALS, but of showcasing the resiliency that is the human spirit in the face of such extreme adversity. Redmayne brought to the screen an immensely emotional and inspirational characterization.
1. Birdman wins Best Picture
Capping off the nearly four-hour telecast was Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance claiming its crown as the Best Picture of the year. With its story of a washed up actor trying to reclaim his importance, director Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu’s Birdman is not only captivating cinema but perpetually entertaining. For Innaritu, Sunday night was especially fruitful, winning three Oscars for Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, and of course Best Picture. Each film in this category brought its own merits as to why it should win, but ultimately the combination of Innaritu’s experimental vision, the wonderful acting, and its funny and touching story allowed Birdman to leap off its perch and soar clenching that Oscar in its talons.