‘Birdman’ wins big, Harris superb host

Contributed Photo
Best Director winner, Alejandro González Iñárritu, poses with his three Oscars he won for his film ‘Birdman’ which also won Best Picture.
"Birdman"- The biggest winner

By Logan Lilly

The Oscars, the one night each year when people stop and celebrate the magic and glory that is cinema. This year, “Birdman” took the coveted Best Picture award as well as several other awards, including Best Director (Alejandro González Iñárritu) and Best Cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki).

Other big winners for the night included, Best Actor (Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”), Best Actress (Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”), Best Supporting Actor (J. K. Simmons, “Whiplash”), Best Supporting Actress (Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”) and Best Animated Feature Film (“Big Hero 6”).

John Lyons, information technology generalist, at Edinboro University and local filmmaker, weighed in on some of this year’s big winners.

“It was such a strong year for film, especially independent film, so I was really happy with the whole pool,” Lyons said. “The fact that ‘Birdman’ won is great, it’s an original film, told in a unique way, with great acting and writing. I was impressed by the movie and the director. I would have been happy with pretty much any film nominated winning.”

For the first time in a while the Oscars truly felt like a celebration of film rather than a collection of celebrities fluffing their egos.

Cementing this celebration of cinema was host Neil Patrick Harris’ opening performance, “Moving Pictures,” that took us on a brief journey through some of our favorite films and this year’s nominees. This performance was a nice change from the typical opening number that either is an out played bit on being nervous to host or a song that centers solely around the host.

Neil Patrick Harris was the host the Oscars have been waiting for. Throughout the night Harris kept the audience entertained with witty one-liners, quick improvisations and even the occasional lame pun. This time around the Oscars actually felt funny; the jokes were well written and delivered with perfect timing. This was truly a fresh approach to the cheap shots at the celebrities in the room that usually happen during big award shows.

Overall, the Oscars did a good job making fun of themselves, as well, including; pairing John Travolta with Idina Menzel to present an apology for completely mispronouncing her name at last year’s Oscars.

The big moment that truly stole the show however, was Lady Gaga’s surprisingly stunning tribute to “The Sound of Music,” which turns 50 this year. Gaga came and belted a medley of songs from the film that completely did them justice. Julie Andrews herself came out and thanked her for a beautiful performance before presenting another award.

The other performances of the night however were a mixed bag of moving moments and awkward fails.

Two of the more moving performances of the night were Common and John Legend’s performance of “Glory” from “Selma,” and Jennifer Hudson’s performance of “I Can’t Let Go” after the in memoriam tribute.

The performance of “Glory” was one of the most powerful of the night bringing actors Chris Pine, David Oyelowo, who played Martin Luther King Jr. in “Selma,” and many others to tears.

Hudson’s performance of “I Can’t Let Go” was a touching tribute to some of the high profile celebrities that passed this year, including Robin Williams. The song was a nice touch to express the struggles many people go through with the loss of a loved one.

Some performances, however, were just down right bad. Tim McGraw’s emotionless performance of “I’m Not Going to Miss You” from the movie “Glenn Campbell: I’ll be Me,” made no sense when paired with the extremely emotional lyrics of the song and Maroon 5’s performance of “Lost Stars” sounded like a poor attempt to sound like Coldplay mixed with high notes Adam Levine could not hit. Then there was The Lonely Island with Tegan and Sara’s performance of “Everything is Awesome” from “The Lego Movie,” which was fun and kept to the feel of the movie but felt extremely out of place after being snubbed for a Best Animated Feature nomination and among the classier performances of the night.

The Oscars this year also mixed things up design wise for several different aspects of the show.

One of the biggest design changes this year came from how nominees were displayed before the announcement of the winner. In the past most of the text was simple black elegant text, where this year it was a bolder maroon font over top of images of the actor from the film, giving it a fresher, more modern take. In addition, these would change based on the category, and for example for best story, was displayed as though nominees were pages in a script.

An unnecessary change however came from the “In Memoriam” segment. In the past this segment was handled by showing clips from movies or interviews of the actors who had passed. This year, however, it was handled by having drawings of each of the actors that went past too quickly. This felt rushed and almost disrespectful compared to years past and if it hadn’t been for a touching speech by Meryl Streep and Hudson’s performance this segment would have felt almost rude.

“I think [the Oscars] need to mix it up a little, go off template a bit,” Lyons said.

Overall, the Oscars this year seemed to have focused better on what audiences want out of the award show, a celebration of film and to honor the best of this year.

Logan Lilly is the editor-in-chief for the Spectator. He can be reached by (814)732-2266.