The much-awaited 87th Academy Awards held on 22 Feb 2015 at the Dolby theatre in LA, breezed into our lives, leaving behind not just memories but lots of issues for us to ponder over and debate. As its host Patrick Harris so rightly put it, this year’s Oscar awards honoured “Hollywood’s best and whitest” in a clear reference to the lack of non-white nominees at the show. Its red carpet meanwhile showcased the best of luxury and fashion, perking up our collective spirits…
The recent Oscar awards saw a drop of around 6% TV viewership, blamed in part due to the lack of mass appeal movies among those nominated and the predictability of the awards race as almost all of the categories went without surprise. Nevertheless this edition will go down in history for the issues it brought up. Issues that will continue to keep coming up everywhere across the world, and in every society too, until they are addressed and viewed in the right perspective, such as racism, sexual bias and the shocking ignorance that prevails, even among the highly literate, about health concerns like Alzheimer’s disease. But what to say, it’s all about evolution and one day eventually, we shall all get there (wherever that is).
But to go on to the awards themselves, the night clearly belonged to Mexican-born director Alejandro Inarritu and his dark comedy ‘Birdman,’ which soared to success, scooping four awards - best director, best picture, original screenplay and cinematography for Emmanuel Lubezki (who won the same award last year for "Gravity") - out of nine nominations. It’s been a Mexican-run of sorts from last year, with Alfonso Cuaron winning that honor for ‘Gravity’ in 2014.
The American black comedy-drama film’s story follows protagonist Riggan Thomson, a faded Hollywood actor famous for his role as superhero Birdman, as he struggles to mount a Broadway adaptation of a short story by Raymond Carver.
‘Birdman’ was closely pitched against Richard Linklater’s marathon 12 year-effort and coming-of-age drama, ’Boyhood’ which received six nominations but won just one - Best Supporting Actress for mega talent Patricia Arquette. At the Golden Globes however, it walked away with awards for Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Director and Best Supporting Actress for Arquette whose real life family has over three generations of actors totaling over 100 members.
The story of a typical modern-day American family, ‘Boyhood’ was shot intermittently between 2002 and 2013, and is a landmark film depicting the adolescence of Mason Evans, Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) from ages six to eighteen as he grows up in Texas with divorced parents (Arquette and Ethan Hawke) and his elder sister Samantha, (Lorelei Linklater).
Also greatly pleased with themselves were the acting talents behind the fairytale-picture-book- fantasy ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ which got nine nods and won four - costume design, makeup and hairstyling, production design and original score for Alexandre Desplat (who also got the nod for ‘The Imitation Game’ under the same category). And who could ever guess that Ralph Fiennes (the new M in James Bond films) could be so amusing when teamed with the cute and delightful Tony Revolon who plays the lobby boy Zero? Watch it to discover.
The heart of its plot also involves a Renaissance painting titled ‘Boy with Apple.’ Truth be told, the painting was actually done by acclaimed English painter Michael Taylor two years before filming started, using Ed Munro an actual person, whose hobby is dancing and who was selected painstakingly from numerous other candidates as its model. That’s fantasy for you folks.
Critics may say that the Academy has a particular leaning towards roles where the actor twists his face out of shape, but try doing it and you’ll know just how tough it is. We are talking of course about Eddie Redmayne who won best actor as Stephen Hawking in ‘The Theory of Everything.’ His portrayal of Hawking is so accurate that the great man himself is believed to have said that he often felt he was watching himself on screen! Now you can’t get a better compliment than that for sure.
If there is a lady of the moment, it has to be Julianne Moore who’s been on a winning spree right from the Golden Globes through the BAFTAS and now at the Oscars. Wearing a shimmering Chanel column dress matched by Chopard jewels she walked away with the award for best actress for ‘Still Alice’ for her portrayal of a 47-year old professor suffering the early onset of Alzheimer’s. And the secret to her win? Thorough research of her character (which is based on a real life Alzheimer’s patient’s life) combined with pure empathy. That rare ability to relate and understand another human being or even another creature’s, suffering. It’s also an ability which needs to be nurtured in the modern life scenario of our lives today.
And to start on that noble mission, we suggest you simply watch Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance as the legendary British genius mathematician Alan Turing in ‘The Imitation Game’ which won Graham Moore best adapted screenplay Oscar. Considered to be the visionary father of modern computing, Turing broke the tough Enigma code of the Germans, (used to transmit war messages) and helped defeat the Nazis. And though his invention saved an estimated 16 million people from certain death, Alan Turing’s greatness was brutally stripped away (in the Great Britain of those days) solely because of his sexual orientation, resulting in his suicide by cyanide in 1954. Many decades later McQueen’s death continues to haunt us. How many more should we lose before we wake up?
Also walking away with several awards was Damien Chazelle’s electrifying ‘Whiplash’ which was nominated for five Oscars and won three - best supporting actor for J.K. Simmons plus sound mixing and film editing. The film stars budding talent Miles Teller as a student jazz drummer who seeks the respect of an abusive teacher, played with aplomb by veteran actor J. K. Simmons. The teacher notices the hidden potential of his student and stretches that ability to breaking point and beyond. Interestingly, Teller the young American actor and musician’s paternal grandfather was of Russian Jewish descent, while his maternal is English, Irish, Polish, and French.
As the teacher, it was a character clearly written for Simmons. During discussions with him, director Chazelle discovered that JK Simmons was in fact a trained and certified music conductor in his youth. The movie is also a lesson on how supportive parents can be of their children. A carefully nurtured talent is after all a priceless treasure to the world, but sadly, more often than not it’s stifled in childhood itself.
84-year old acting ace, musician and director, Clint Eastwood’s box-officer grosser ($350 million since its opening) and romanticized war movie ‘American Sniper’ won the Achievement in Sound Editing. It may come as a revelation to many that he composed the brilliant film scores of Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, Flags of Our Fathers, Grace Is Gone, Changeling, Hereafter and J. Edgar.
At a time when most people have retired from life Eastwood is just going stronger. This could be attributed to his healthful habits. Despite smoking in some of his films, he is a lifelong non-smoker conscious of his health and fitness who practices healthful eating and daily Transcendental Meditation. He is also an avid golfer who donates his time to charitable causes. (Clearly, he’s a person who packs quite a punch).
Pawel Pawlikowski’s stark black and white drama Ida won the Foreign-Language Film over a strong field — marking the first Oscar for a Polish entry. It won over Russia’s “Leviathan,” Estonia’s “Tangerines,” Mauritania’s “Timbuktu” and Argentina’s “Wild Tales.”
Set in Poland in 1962 it is the austere story of a young woman on the verge of taking vows as a Catholic nun. Orphaned as an infant, she meets her only surviving relative who tells her that her parents were Jewish. Ida won the best film of 2014 from the European Film Academy along with awards from BAFTA and the Spirits, but lost out to “Leviathan” at the Golden Globes.
There were several musical interludes during the show such as jazz singer John Legend and Rap singer Common’s magnificent rendering of ‘Glory’ from the biopic Selma which left the audience in tears. A few minutes after their performance they were back on stage to accept the award for best original song written for a motion picture. Actor Terence Howard put it beautifully when he said, that the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. is given a voice in the last nominated film - Selma which honours the vision and life of its subject.
And the other musical was Lady Gaga’s rousing performance of a medley of songs from ‘Sound of Music’ to mark the 50th year of the timeless musical and its immortal magic. And all our old favorites were there, right from "The Hills are Alive" and "My Favorite Things," to the enervating "Climb Every Mountain, Ford every Stream, Follow the Rainbow until you find your Dream!"
Later the legendary singing sensation Julie Andrews was seen joining Lady Gaga on the stage and thanking her profusely, “Dear Lady Gaga, thank you for that wonderful tribute. Oh, my God. It really warmed my heart. It really did!"
It warmed ours too Julie and brought a flood of fond memories. A big thank you from our side to film makers across the world for making fantasy come alive and boosting our hearts, minds and our spirits importantly.
But let’s not get swept away by all the sweetness and the smiles for there’s plenty of cut-throat competition out there. In fact more than what we simple, movie-watching crowds can ever imagine. The Oscar may be only 13 ½” tall and weighs in at around 8 ½ Ibs. But mark it, ‘he’ is worth his weight in gold, and can boost the box office performance of a movie by an average of 50%. Last year for instance ‘American Hustle’ made $40 million just for being nominated. And those are serious statistics.
A Ravishing Red Carpet
Marion Cottilard, the only foreign film nominee for the best actress in a supporting role category for ‘Two Days, One Night’ wore a voluminous white Dior Haute Couture gown, given a very interesting touch with gathered detailing in the lower back. The look was further highlighted by Chopard jewels.
‘Gone Girl’ Rosamund Pike looked almost as deadly as her character Amy in the film wearing an ultra feminine red Givenchy number.
Best Actress Julianne Moore’s Chanel column dress was teamed with Chopard earrings for that winning look. "Karl Lagerfeld made this for me," Moore proudly said on the red carpet.
Best Supporting Actress winner Patricia Arquette looked elegant in a monochrome design by best friend and Los Angeles-based designer Rosetta Getty. Dreams do come true. It seems that when they were young, Arquette dreamed of being an actress and Getty a fashion designer.
An awesome 6,000 pearls were used for Lupita Nyong’o’s custom-made Calvin Klein dress created by Francisco Costa and was paired with glittering Chopard jewels.
Acting talent Meryl Streep was the perfect mix of sophistication and elegance in a well-cut, Lanvin boyfriend blazer with silk lapels, draped shirt and a full-length skirt.
Stately Cate Blanchett was eye-catching in a subtle black gown by Maison Martin Margiela (new designer, John Galliano’s at the helm please note), designed just for her and matched by a bright Tiffany & Co., multi-row turquoise statement necklace.
Looking ethereal Keira Knightley wrapped her baby bump in a romantic flower-embroidered tulle dress by Valentino Haute Couture.
‘Wolf of Wall Street’ actress Margot Robbie opted for Saint Laurent gown slashed to the midriff accessorised with a Van Cleef & Arpels zip necklace first created for the Duchess of Windsor.
Slenderer than ever, ‘American Sniper’ Brit actress Sienna Miller chose a design by Peter Copping, the new creative director of American fashion brand Oscar de la Renta - who is also a Brit.
‘Birdman’ actress Emma Stone was the picture of perfection in a dazzling acid-green chartreuse Elie Saab gown enhanced by a rose-cut diamond cuff in 18k yellow and white gold from Tiffany & Co’s Blue Book along with platinum earrings set with emerald-cut diamonds.
Czech supermodel Karolína Kurková - all 5ft 11" of her - waltzed down the red carpet in a terrific Marchesa gown, instantly eclipsing one and all around.
Best Supporting actress nominee and star of ‘Wild’ Laura Dern looked swelte in an embellished black and silver Alberta Ferretti gown and a Bulgari Monete necklace and a Bulgari turquoise ring, in support of the American Lung Association's Lung Force initiative.
Presenter and ‘Birdman’ actress Naomi Watts paired an exquisite black and white, cut-out beaded Armani Privé gown with lapis blue earrings by Anna Hu.
The ‘Avatar’ actress Zoe Saldana looked in a blush pink Atelier Versace gown just three months after having had twins (Bowie and Cy), teamed her look with a Harry Winston diamond drop necklace while Kerry Washington chose a sleek, tiered Miu Miu number.
Lady Gaga’s Azzedine Alaia dress was fantastic despite the lobster-red, ‘washing-up’ gloves — however, the custom-made design stood out as a perfect mix of high-fashion and red carpet.
Jennifer Aniston with fiance Justin Theroux in tow looking smart in Dolce & Gabbana, dazzled in a sparkly, beige Versace column dress teamed with Fred Leighton jewelry.
Scarlett Johansson went green with a vengeance combining an emerald green Versace gown with a green oversized bejeweled collar attached to it featuring 2,000 Swarovski crystals. She matched the necklace with Piaget Mediterranean Garden 18k pink gold ear cuff set with pear-shaped emeralds, brilliant diamonds, pear-shaped aquamarines and pear-shaped green tourmalines.
All that green probably set off the wrong signals, because much to her horror, John Travolta (of all the people) crept up quietly from behind and kissed her.
In contrast to other bold necklace statements at the event, Piaget’s new brand ambassador and star of ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Jessica Chastain opted for a delicate Piaget diamond necklace which went off especially very well with her navy gown by Givenchy Haute Couture by Riccardo Tisci.
Wearing an iridescent strapless Louis Vuitton number cinched at the waist by a bright red belt which uplifted the look, Australian actress Nicole Kidman wore more than $7 million worth of Harry Winston Diamonds, including emerald-cut diamond ear studs, a Caftan diamond bracelet, an emerald-cut diamond solitaire ring and a bezel-set diamond band ring.
Rita Ora wore a navy, super-long fishtail Marchesa dress on the Oscar awards 2015 red carpet which had a tight-on-the-hips and loose-on-the-torso fit.
Tom Ford's custom-made dress for Reese Witherspoon worked a brilliant optical illusion around her shoulders and waist. Mr. Ford reportedly moved his women's wear show from London Fashion Week, currently underway in Britain, to Los Angeles, where it was held the previous night of the Oscars to a celebrity-rich crowd. (Smart thinking!)
Jennifer Lopez’s fondness for Middle East designers was once more displayed when she chose an Elie Saab dress featuring an excess of tulle and diamantés. She matched it with Neil Lane’s diamond drop earrings and three diamond and platinum rings.
Meanwhile the gentlemen came out looking quite dapper. Singer Jared Leto was spotted in a lavender Givenchy tuxedo and white shoes, his trademark long locks in place. Eddie Redmayne opted for a navy and black Alexander McQueen tux, as did Ansel Elgort and Miles Teller came in Prada. Michael Keaton’s look was fit for an Oscar-winning actor, and Oscar-nominee Common had one of the best men’s looks of the night, in a Prada tux with a velvet blazer and Fred Leighton jewelry. And ‘Selma’ actor David Oyelowo rocked a red Dolce & Gabbana tux. Mr. Bradley Cooper was natty in a Salvatore Ferragamo tux. Mark Ruffalo came in Ermenegildo Zegna couture, Chris Pine in Giorgio Armani and Ed Norton in Calvin Klein.
Pretty Anna Kendrick wore a coral custom-made Thakoon gown while Gwyneth Paltrow’s Ralph & Russo powder pink, one shouldered gown featured a massive rose on her left shoulder and she matched it all with large Fire Phoenix earrings and a Pétales d’Amour ring by Anna Hu Haute Joaillerie.
Larger than life itself, we'd like a word with Felicity Jones's stylist after seeing this serving of blancmange by Alexander McQueen.
Chloe Grace Moretz's Miu Miu gown was too busy in the bustle and seemed to swallow her feet.
Young starlet Dakota Johnson wore a crimson one strap traffic red Saint Laurent dress, (her first major red carpet appearance after the opening of 'Fifty Shades of Grey'). Matching it with $2.2 million worth Forevermark jewelry, she was accompanied by her veteran actress mom Melanie Griffith who wore a black gown.
Of course, the media being the media just won’t leave things alone and one reporter was seen asking Melanie on the red carpet, “Are you going to watch your daughter’s debut film?” (This after it was splashed all over the media that Dakota’s parents had decided to not watch the film for obvious reasons).
To which Melanie replied ‘No.’
‘But,’ insists the reporter,‘She’s very talented!’
To which Melanie, smiling ever so sweetly gracefully replied, “I know she is. But I don’t need to watch it to know just how talented she is.”
Oh the dilemma we parents at times face!
And that’s a wrap folks until the next season of the awards roundabout. But just remember, this year’s cache is not just entertaining but highly educative as well. So just tick them off one by one starting NOW!
Here is the list of Oscar award winners from this year:
Best Picture: Birdman — Alejandro G. Inarritu, John Lesher and James W. Skotchdopole
Best Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu — Birdman
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
Achievement in Costume Design: Milena Canonero — The Grand Budapest Hotel
Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling: Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier — The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Foreign Language Film: Ida – Pawel Pawlikowski
Best Live Action Short Film: The Phone Call — Matt Kirkby and James Lucas
Best Documentary Short Subject: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 — Ellen Goosenberg Kent and Dana Perry
Original Screenplay: Birdman – Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. and Armando Bo
Achievement in Sound Mixing: Whiplash — Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins, Thomas Curley
Achievement in Sound Editing: American Sniper — Alan Robert Murray Bub Asman
Achievement in Visual Effects: Interstellar — Ian Hunter, Scott Fisher, Andrew Lockley and Paul Franklin
Best Animated Short: Feast — Patrick Osborne and Kristina Reed
Best Animated Movie: Big Hero Six — Don Hall, Chris Williams and Roy Conli
Achievement in Production Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel — Adam Stockhausen and Anna Pinnock
Achievement in Cinematography: Birdman — Emannuel Lubezki
Achievement in Film Editing: Whiplash — Tom Cross
Best Documentary Feature: Citizen Four — Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy and Dirk Wilutzky
Best Original Song: Glory — John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn
Best Original Score: The Grand Budapest Hotel — Alexandre Desplat
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Imitation Game – Graham Moore