LOS ANGELES (AP) — Hollywood is smarter than you thought. Whether by design or chance, the 87th Academy Awards elegantly and subtly shifted the tone of the season from a reductive fixation on snubs and fact-checking to a positive celebration of original filmmaking and purposeful advocacy for causes as diverse as immigration, suicide and equal rights.
The self-obsessed industry might have given its best picture and director prizes to Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “Birdman,” a trenchant examination of actorly narcissism, but the vanity seemed to stop with the opening of the envelopes. Even in their moments of singular glory, most of the winners chose to talk about something other than themselves.
The Mexican-born Inarritu, whose “Birdman” also won for cinematography and original screenplay, said he prays his native country finds “a government we deserve” and that immigrants to the U.S. “can be treated with the same dignity and the respect of the ones who came before and (built) this incredible immigrant nation.”
Host Neil Patrick Harris set the tenor of the evening, toeing the line between reverent merriment and self-referential parody, with a biting joke about one of the season’s most criticized truths.
“Tonight we honor Hollywood’s best and whitest — I mean brightest,” he said in his opening, referencing the lack of diversity in the slate of nominees.
Patricia Arquette, who won the supporting actress award for her portrayal of a mother finding herself in Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood,” also took a stand for equal rights and pay to the public delight of fellow nominee Meryl Streep.
“It is time for women. Equal means equal. The truth is the older women get the less money they make,” she said backstage.
Best actress winner Julianne Moore (“Still Alice”) and best actor Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything”) followed suit, using their speeches to discuss the afflictions of their characters — Alzheimer’s and ALS, respectively.
“This Oscar belongs to all of those people around the world battling ALS,” said Redmayne.
“CitizenFour,” in which Laura Poitras captured Edward Snowden in the midst of leaking National Security Agency documents, won best documentary.
“The disclosures that Edward Snowden reveals don’t only expose a threat to our privacy but to our democracy itself,” said Poitras, accepting the Oscar. “When the most important decisions being made affecting all of us are made in secret, we lose our ability to check the powers that control.”
John Legend and Common took their win for the song “Glory” to speak of the importance of “Selma,” the now infamously snubbed civil rights drama.
“We say that ‘Selma’ is now, because the struggle for justice is right now,” Legend said.
As the young Graham Moore, who talked about his depression and a suicide attempt during his acceptance speech for best adapted screenplay for “The Imitation Game,” put it backstage: “I might as well use it to say something meaningful.”
But in a season full of foregone conclusions, many of which came true at the Dolby Theatre, including a best supporting actor win for J.K. Simmons (“Whiplash”), the Oscars still had a few surprises up its tuxedo sleeves, including the fact that all of Sunday’s big winners were first-timers.
Richard Linklater’s 12-years-in-the-making “Boyhood,” a critical favorite of the year and one that was once considered a top contender for the evening’s top prizes left with only an award for Arquette. The formal ambitions of “Birdman” proved to be the more compelling — even if its lead Michael Keaton was passed over in the acting race.
There was also clear regard for uniqueness in the evening’s other multiple prize winners. Damien Chazelle’s “Whiplash,” a pulsating and vibrant independent film about a driven jazz student and his ruthless instructor, won three awards, for supporting actor, editing and sound mixing.
Director Wes Anderson’s dark WWII-set fable, “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” meanwhile, won four. Anderson had been long overlooked by the Academy for his idiosyncratic features. This latest outing, one of the evening’s most nominated films, was recognized for production design, score, costume design and makeup and styling.
Several of this year’s biggest box-office hit nominees — Clint Eastwood’s Iraq war drama “American Sniper” and Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi epic “Interstellar” — had to settle for single wins in technical categories. “Interstellar” won for visual effects, while “American Sniper” — far and away the most widely seen of the best-picture nominees — took the best sound editing award.
As Hollywood’s studios have increasingly focused on mounting global blockbusters, the Oscars have become largely the province of smaller indies and film festival fare. In the night’s opening routine, Jack Black, playing villain to the cheery Harris, lamented Hollywood releases “opening with lots of zeroes, all we get is superheroes.”
The only film that came close to betraying that sensibility was Disney’s “Big Hero 6,” which won best animated feature and is loosely based on an obscure Marvel comic.
Superhero hostility aside, Harris and producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan made sure to bring as youthful a spirit as possible to the evening’s festivities, hoping to continue the recent ratings upswing for the Oscars, which last year drew 43 million viewers, making it the most-watched entertainment telecast in a decade.
Jake Coyle, Beth Harris, Sandy Cohen, and Anthony McCartney contributed to this report.
Full List of Winners:
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“The Imitation Game”
“The Theory of Everything”
Eddie Redmayne in “The Theory of Everything”
Michael Keaton in “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Steve Carell in “Foxcatcher”
Bradley Cooper in “American Sniper”
Benedict Cumberbatch in “The Imitation Game”
Julianne Moore in “Still Alice”
Marion Cotillard in “Two Days, One Night”
Felicity Jones in “The Theory of Everything”
Rosamund Pike in “Gone Girl”
Reese Witherspoon in “Wild”
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Alejandro G. Iñárritu
“Boyhood” Richard Linklater
“Foxcatcher” Bennett Miller
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Wes Anderson
“The Imitation Game” Morten Tyldum
J.K. Simmons in “Whiplash”
Robert Duvall in “The Judge”
Ethan Hawke in “Boyhood”
Edward Norton in “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Mark Ruffalo in “Foxcatcher”
Patricia Arquette in “Boyhood”
Laura Dern in “Wild”
Keira Knightley in “The Imitation Game”
Emma Stone in “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Meryl Streep in “Into the Woods”
“The Imitation Game” Written by Graham Moore
“American Sniper” Written by Jason Hall
“Inherent Vice” Written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson
“The Theory of Everything” Screenplay by Anthony McCarten
“Whiplash” Written by Damien Chazelle
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Written by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo
“Boyhood” Written by Richard Linklater
“Foxcatcher” Written by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Screenplay by Wes Anderson; Story by Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness
“Nightcrawler” Written by Dan Gilroy
“Big Hero 6” Don Hall, Chris Williams and Roy Conli
“The Boxtrolls” Anthony Stacchi, Graham Annable and Travis Knight
“How to Train Your Dragon 2” Dean DeBlois and Bonnie Arnold
“Song of the Sea” Tomm Moore and Paul Young
“The Tale of the Princess Kaguya” Isao Takahata and Yoshiaki Nishimura
“CitizenFour” Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy and Dirk Wilutzky
“Finding Vivian Maier” John Maloof and Charlie Siskel
“Last Days in Vietnam” Rory Kennedy and Keven McAlester
“The Salt of the Earth” Wim Wenders, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado and David Rosier
“Virunga” Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara
“Glory” from “Selma”
Music and Lyric by John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn
“Everything Is Awesome” from “The Lego Movie”
Music and Lyric by Shawn Patterson
“Grateful” from “Beyond the Lights”
Music and Lyric by Diane Warren
“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from “Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me”
Music and Lyric by Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond
“Lost Stars” from “Begin Again”
Music and Lyric by Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois
Foreign Language Film
“Wild Tales” Argentina
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Alexandre Desplat
“The Imitation Game” Alexandre Desplat
“Interstellar” Hans Zimmer
“Mr. Turner” Gary Yershon
“The Theory of Everything” Jóhann Jóhannsson
“Whiplash” Tom Cross
“American Sniper” Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach
“Boyhood” Sandra Adair
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Barney Pilling
“The Imitation Game” William Goldenberg
“Interstellar” Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill and Dan Sudick
“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett and Erik Winquist
“Guardians of the Galaxy” Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner and Paul Corbould
“X-Men: Days of Future Past” Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie and Cameron Waldbauer
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Emmanuel Lubezki
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Robert Yeoman
“Ida” Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski
“Mr. Turner” Dick Pope
“Unbroken” Roger Deakins
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Milena Canonero
“Inherent Vice” Mark Bridges
“Into the Woods” Colleen Atwood
“Maleficent” Anna B. Sheppard and Jane Clive
“Mr. Turner” Jacqueline Durran
Makeup and Hairstyling
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier
“Foxcatcher” Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard
“Guardians of the Galaxy” Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou and David White
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
“The Imitation Game” Production Design: Maria Djurkovic; Set Decoration: Tatiana Macdonald
“Interstellar” Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Gary Fettis
“Into the Woods” Production Design: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
“Mr. Turner” Production Design: Suzie Davies; Set Decoration: Charlotte Watts
Animated Short Film
“Feast” Patrick Osborne and Kristina Reed
“The Bigger Picture” Daisy Jacobs and Christopher Hees
“The Dam Keeper” Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi
“Me and My Moulton” Torill Kove
“A Single Life” Joris Oprins
Live Action Short Film
“The Phone Call” Mat Kirkby and James Lucas
“Aya” Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis
“Boogaloo and Graham” Michael Lennox and Ronan Blaney
“Butter Lamp (La Lampe Au Beurre De Yak)” Hu Wei and Julien Féret
“Parvaneh” Talkhon Hamzavi and Stefan Eichenberger
Documentary Short Subject
“Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1” Ellen Goosenberg Kent and Dana Perry
“Joanna” Aneta Kopacz
“Our Curse” Tomasz Sliwinski and Maciej Slesicki
“The Reaper (La Parka)” Gabriel Serra Arguello
“White Earth” J. Christian Jensen
“Whiplash” Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley
“American Sniper” John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Walt Martin
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and Thomas Varga
“Interstellar” Gary A. Rizzo, Gregg Landaker and Mark Weingarten
“Unbroken” Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and David Lee
“American Sniper” Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Martín Hernández and Aaron Glascock
“The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” Brent Burge and Jason Canovas
“Interstellar” Richard King
“Unbroken” Becky Sullivan and Andrew DeCristofaro