‘Birdman’, Alejandro G Inarritu’s surreal comedy about an aging superstar, claimed the best picture Oscar besides best director and original screenplay wins at the 87th Oscars that saw an appeal from winners for equal rights.
The film, which clipped Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ in a neck-and-neck fight for the top award, also walked away with best cinematography gong.
“Birdman” entered the race with nine nominations where it tied with “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and ironically they were equal in their wins too though Wes Anderson’s film largely won in technical categories like original score, hair and make up, costume and production design.
British star Eddie Redmayne interrupted Birdman’s march by walking away with the best actor trophy for his physically- transformative turn as physicist Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything”.
It was a close call for the 33-year-old star as “Birdman” star Michael Keaton was his most fierce competitor. Other nominees were his fellow countryman Benedict Cumberbatch, Bradley Cooper and Steve Carell.
Julianne Moore finally won her first Oscar in the best actress category for her poignant portrayal of a mother and academic struggling with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease in “Still Alice”.
She was the clear frontrunner in the category where her competitors included Marion Cotillard, Felicity Jones, Rosamund Pike and Reese Witherspoon.
A beaming Inarritu took to stage with the entire “Birdman” team to accept the top prize of the night where he joked about his poor English-speaking skills besides referring to last year’s best director winner Alfonso Cuaron.
“Maybe the next year government will reflect on immigration rules to the Academy. Two Mexicans in a row, that’s suspicious, I guess,” he joked.
The director, however, turned serious while addressing the political situation in Mexico and hoped that those who migrated to the US are “treated with the same dignity and respect of the ones that came before and build this incredible immigrant nation.”
Both the top acting categories honoured the indomitable spirit of people fighting rare diseases.
Redmayne was visibly nervous as he walked up to the stage to receive his first ever Oscar trophy for portraying Hawking’s gradual physical decline after he was diagnosed with motor neuron disease (ALS) at the age of 21.
“I am fully aware that I am a lucky, lucky man. This Oscar belongs to the people around the world battling ALS. It belongs to one exceptional family, the Hawking family. I will be his custodian,” Redmayne said.
Moore, 54, too threw light on the neurodegenerative disease that leads to memory loss, in her acceptance speech.
“I’m so happy, I’m thrilled that we were able to shine a light on Alzheimer’s disease. So many people who have this disease feel marginalised. People who have Alzheimer’s disease deserve to be seen so we can find a cure.”
Patricia Arquette, who won the best supporting actress Oscar for her role of a struggling mother in Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood”, delivered an impassioned speech on women’s equality and got a standing ovation from Meryl Streep.
“To every woman who gave birth, to every tax payer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It is our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America,” Arquette said as she read out her speech.
J K Simmons, the best supporting actor Oscar winner for “Whiplash” was at his kindest best as he paid tribute to his wife and children, a stark contrast to his bullying role.
Original song went to ‘Glory’ by John Legend and Common from civil rights drama “Selma”, whose exclusion from acting and direction nominations had sparked a debate about the lack of diversity in the Academy.
Both Common and Lengend talked about the attack on civil rights protesters, led by Martin Luther King Jr, on Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965.
“This bridge was the landmark of the divided nation but it’s now a symbol for change. The spirit of the bridge transcends race, gender, religion, sexual orientation and social status,” said Common.
Best foreign film award went to Polish historical drama “Ida” by director Pawel Pawlikowski. It is the first Oscar for Poland despite nine earlier nominations.
India, which had sent “Liar’s Dice” in this category, had failed to secure a nomination. The last Oscars won by Indians was A R Rahman and Resul Pookutty’s awards in 2010 for “Slumdog Millionaire”.
‘Whiplash’ bagged a total of three awards after winning in sound mixing for Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins, Thomas Curley and film editing for Tom Cross besides Simmons’ best supporting actor gong.
Clint Eastwood’s Iraq-based drama ‘American Sniper’, which many fancied as the dark horse of this year’s race, had to satisfy itself with a lone Oscar in sound editing for Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman.
Another lone winner was ‘The Imitation Game’, a biopic based on English mathematician and logician, Alan Turing, which won for adapted screenplay.
Sci-fi thriller ‘Interstellar’ took home the Academy Award for best special effects.
Ansel Elgort and Chloe Grace Moretz presented the award to Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher for their work on Christopher Nolan’s space odyssey.
Walt Disney’s superhero action comedy film ‘Big Hero 6′ won the best animated feature film Oscar for its inspiring story of a teenager robotics prodigy, who forms a superhero team to combat a masked villain.
Laura Poitras’ “Citizenfour”, which captures whistleblower Edward Snowden’s NSA surveillance leak unfolding in real time, won the best documentary feature Oscar.
“The Phone Call” was named best live-action short film, while “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1” won the best documentary short subject Oscar.
Best animated short film honour was given to ‘Feast’.
The 87th Academy Awards were hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, who kicked off the award show with dig on all white nominees, a musical number that included Anna Kendrick and Jack Black and dancing Stormtroopers.
He drew laughter as the actor turned up in his undies in an obvious reference to Michael Keaton’s memorable sprint through Time Square in his white undergarment in ‘Birdman’.
The ceremony held at Dolby Theatre honoured winners in 24 categories who were voted by over 6000 members of the Academy.