By James Hirsen, Special for USDR
A slow moving, generally unfunny Oscar telecast resulted in predictable outcomes in almost all of the major award categories.
Patricia Arquette won Best Supporting Actress, J.K. Simmons took Best Supporting Actor, and Julianne Moore received the Best Actress award, three foreseen and expected wins that numerous Oscar watchers had already anticipated.
Eddie Redmayne edged out Michael Keaton for Best Actor, a consequence of having acquired momentum following his SAG Award win in the same category.
“Birdman” received the Best Picture Oscar after engaging in a neck-in-neck race with “Boyhood.” The dark comedy winner had a distinct advantage with Academy voters, since its story centered on actors themselves, the vocation of acting, and the related struggles of actor-artists. It also had heaps of Hollywood insider humor.
Throughout most of the awards season, “Boyhood” was the supposed favorite. “Birdman,” however, had swept the primary awards at the various guild ceremonies held by the Directors Guild, Producers Guild, and Screen Actors Guild. It ended up taking home additional Oscars in the fields of cinematography, screenplay, and directing.
The biggest upset of the night was the editing Oscar, which was expected to go to “Boyhood,” considering the 12 years of footage involved. Instead the Academy Award for Best Editing went to “Whiplash.”
Aside from the doling out of certain trophies, some other unexpected things occurred during the Oscar telecast. An appearance as a presenter by “Fifty Shades of Grey” actress Dakota Johnson was no doubt perceived by many in the viewing audience as highly inappropriate, considering the nature and content of her recent movie. Also difficult for many viewers to suffer through was the excessive political sermonizing by Oscar winners via their acceptance speeches.
When Arquette took to the stage to accept her award, she used a significant part of her monologue to harangue the audience about female equality and wage parity. She continued to speak even after the exit music could be heard, demanding “wage equality in the United States and equal pay for women,” which is a persistent liberal theme. After Arquette spoke, Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lopez, Shirley MacLaine, and other attendees could be seen enthusiastically displaying their like-mindedness.
The issue has apparently been on Arquette’s mind of late. The actress had posted on her Twitter account the following question: “Did you know women will average $500,000 leas pay over a lifetime then men. Equal pay for Equal work. #Equalmeansequal @ERAeducation”
When rapper Common and singer John Legend were awarded Oscars for the theme song “Glory” from the film “Selma,” Legend used his acceptance speech to question how much has really changed since the civil rights movement began and spoke further about voting rights, incarceration, and enslavement.
“Selma is now,” Legend said, “because the struggle for justice is right now.” He commented that voting rights are being compromised in some parts of the country and indicated that America is “the most incarcerated country in the world.” He also said that more black men are under the control of the correctional system than were subjected to slavery in the past.
“Birdman” won the Best Director Oscar for the work of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. During his acceptance speech, Inarritu, who is of Mexican heritage, used his time to speak about immigration.
“Maybe next year the government will inflict immigration restrictions,” Innaritu said. He also referenced a fellow Mexican colleague, last year’s Best Director Oscar winner Alfonso Cuaron.
“Two Mexicans in a row. That’s suspicious, I guess,” Innaritu added.
A significant moment occurred during the Oscar telecast when “Citizenfour,” Laura Poitras’s account of her work with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, won the Best Documentary Oscar. Poitras’s film begins prior to the time that Snowden went public, when he was attempting to avoid being apprehended and possibly prosecuted. The film captures his struggle to come to terms with the fact that his life had irrevocably changed.
“I was a participant as much as a documentarian,” Poitras told TIME when “Citizenfour” was released. In her acceptance speech, she said, “The most important decisions being made in secret affect all of us.”
Snowden couldn’t make it “for some treason,” host Harris said, in what was a patently flat attempt at a joke.
Snowden’s reaction to “Citizenfour”’s Oscar win was released by the ACLU.