the oscars 2015: patricia arquette's speech and birdman won the night

This was the year of the biopic, inspiring acceptance speeches, memorable live performances and, arguably, a surprise Best Picture win.

by Courtney Iseman
23 February 2015, 6:10am

"We're here to celebrate the best and whitest — I mean brightest," began host Neil Patrick Harris. He kicked off this year's Oscars with a musical number that featured Anna Kendrick singing, Jack Black interfering, and Benedict Cumberbatch swigging from a flask. Shout-outs to Xanax, Dior and the lack of non-white nominees set to song were a smart way to sum up the year in film.

NPH made a grand show of the fact he makes his own Oscar predictions. And this year, a lot of us were probably right: there weren't many surprises. Fittingly for a movie that looked like a romp through a pop-up book, The Grand Budapest Hotel took Best Costume Design, Best Makeup and Hair Styling, and Best Production Design. And J.K. Simmons won Best Supporting Actor for his role in the acclaimed Whiplash, before the heavenly-maned Jared Leto gave Patricia Arquette her Best Supporting Actress award for Boyhood. In a standout moment, Arquette shook things up with a feminist speech that had even the normally subdued Meryl Streep cheering in agreement. Speaking of brilliant stands, Graham Moore assured all the struggling kids out there that there is a place for them when accepting Best Adapted Screenplay for The Imitation Game. In what was a tough competition, Eddie Redmayne took Best Actor for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. And as was expected, Julianne Moore won Best Actress for her brilliant turn in Still Alice.

Then there were the performances of the Best Song nominations. Memorable for its "What? Why?" factor was Lady Gaga's tribute to The Sound of Music, a well-done yet telethon-esque medley. Meryl Streep opened the In Memoriam montage with a Joan Didion quote (because the Academy is with it), and Jennifer Hudson did a lovely tribute song to close it out. The montage snubbed Joan Rivers, though, in a move that sent Twitter into a frenzy. Another memorable performance was John Legend and Common's moving Glory. As if the feelings weren't already in overdrive, the song immediately went on to win the Oscar.

When it came to the Best Picture nominees, this was the year of the biopic: there were two geniuses, a civil rights leader, a Navy SEAL, an average boy, a kid learning to play the drums, and a washed-up movie star — plus the story of a mischievous hotel concierge (does that count?). And this is where we finally got our surprise. The award went not to Boyhood, which has swept other awards shows this season, but to Birdman. It was arguably the most exciting film of this year, and the win was the most exciting thing that happened last night.


Text Courtney Iseman
Still from Birdman

lady gaga
Julianne Moore
patricia arquette
Eddie Redmayne
Oscars 2015