The stars of the silver screen gathered at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood last night for The 87th Oscars ceremony, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris. Birdman emerged as the night's big winner, taking home four Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director (Alejandro González Iñárritu), Best Original Screenplay (Alejandro González Iñárritu, Armando Bo, Alexander Dinelaris, Nicolás Giacobone) and Best Cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki), with The Grand Budapest Hotel also taking home four Academy Awards for Best Costume Design, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Production Design and Best Original Score. It was a rare year where all eight of the Best Picture nominees ended up taking home at least one award apiece, but for many viewers, the awards themselves weren't talked about nearly as much as the speeches, musical performances and other segments from the ceremony, which ran more than a half-hour longer than its allotted three-hour time slot. After live-tweeting the event last night, I'm breaking down my 5 best and 5 worst moments from this year's Academy Awards, which fans will surely be talking about for days and weeks to come. These are not ranked by any particular order, making them as random as the ceremony seemed to be at certain points of the long-winded night, so take a look at the best and worst of the Oscars below.
Top 5 Oscar 2015 Moments
1Neil Patrick Harris' Opening Number
In the weeks leading up to the The 87th Oscars, Anna Kendrick and Jack Black were announced as performers on the telecast, although it wasn't known exactly what they were going to be doing. We found out right away, as they both joined host Neil Patrick Harris in his rousing opening musical number that showcased the first of many impressive set pieces throughout the show, which may have been one of the best aspects of the show as a whole. This five-minute number was chocked full of mainstream and obscure movie references alike, with Neil Patrick Harris even name-dropping the fantastic board game adaptation Clue, before he was joined by Anna Kendrick, who dropped a huge Gone Girl spoiler, and later Jack Black, who ranted and raved about the state of showbiz. It was a fantastic way to get the show started, even if it did foreshadow that the show was going to run super-long...
2 Oscar Winners Will Not Be Played Off!
Along with taking home the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for Ida, director Pawel Pawlikowski won the hearts of played-off Oscar winners everywhere by refusing to wrap up his speech after being cued by the orchestra. While he did acknowledge that it was time to "wrap up," delivering his speech at a quicker pace, he still kept going even after the band's wrap-up music failed to get him off the stage, which earned well-deserved applause from the audience. Orchestra play-offs are always awkward and somewhat embarrassing moments at any awards show, so kudos to Pawel Pawlikowski for standing his ground. The trend continued into the next award as well, when Best Live-Action Short Film winners Mat Kirkby and James Lucas kept going long after their cue. No one else was played off for the rest of the night. Of course, these Oscar mavericks did contribute to one of the most drawn-out Oscars in recent memory, but time could be cut in a number of different places, not impassioned speeches from Oscar winners.
3John Travolta's Oscar Redemption
After one of the most awkward Oscar moments in history last year, when John Travolta horribly butchered Idina Menzel's (Adele Dazeem) name before she performed "Let It Go" from Frozen, the actor proved he was a good sport by appearing with Idina Menzel to present the Best Original Song Oscar. It was a fun little moment, with Idina Menzel announcing the actor as "Glom Gazingo," as they exchanged a hug and a few witty barbs before John Travolta finally got her name right, on camera. Sure, plenty of people are calling the actor out for the "creepy" ways he was caressing the actress' face, but it was still a fun moment that added some genuine levity to the proceedings, while offering John Travolta redemption for his memorable gaffe.
4 "Glory" by Common and John Legend
As I mentioned before, this year's Oscar ceremony had some of the most beautiful and ambitious sets in the telecast's history, with the recreation of the Edmund Pettis Bridge scene from Selma serving as an incredible backdrop for, in my opinion, the best performance of the night, Common and John Legend's Oscar-winning song "Glory." I have heard the song several times before the ceremony, but this astounding set combined with the massive amount of extras portraying Selma marchers and Common and John Legend's supremely dynamic performance was truly a magnificent sight to behold. The performance earned the biggest standing ovation of the night, and rightfully so. There was not a dry eye in the house after this performance, as we could see Selma star David Oyelowo and Chris Pine fighting back the tears after this powerful song.
5 The Acceptance Speeches
The absolute best part of last night's ceremony was all of the incredibly passionate speeches. While I don't believe there was a "bad" speech all night, the three most talked about speeches were delivered by Patricia Arquette, J.K. Simmons and Graham Moore. After winning Best Supporting Actress for Boyhood, Patricia Arquette used her time to address wage equality for women, which sparked rousing reactions from Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez. J.K. Simmons' heartfelt speech after winning Best Supporting Actor for Whiplash concluded with the actor asking everyone to call their mom and dad. Graham Moore, who won the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for The Imitation Game, shared a deeply personal story about how he tried to kill himself when he was 16, issuing an impassioned plea to everyone who feels that they don't belong to "stay weird" and "stay different," which earned a standing ovation from everyone in the Dolby Theater. Every year there are always memorable speeches, but this year stood way above the rest.
Worst 5 Oscar 2015 Moments
1Neil Patrick Harris' Magic Predictions Box
At least 10, possibly 15 minutes of last night's telecast could have been cut if this drawn-out magic bit would have been axed. At the beginning of the night, Neil Patrick Harris brought out a clear, locked box that held the host's predictions for the night. He even entrusted Oscar winner Octavia Spencer with keeping an eye on this box, going back to it throughout the night to make sure it hasn't been "tampered with." Neil Patrick Harris has a well-known affinity for doing magic tricks, and he was expected to add some sort of magical element to the broadcast... but this is what he went with? The bit was boring and awkward right from the beginning, and while the payoff was mildly impressive, it was nowhere near worth the wait.
2 The Seat Fillers
Neil Patrick Harris and producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan were obviously trying to repeat the spontaneity of last year's event hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, which featured a number of memorable highlights such as the biggest "selfie" of all time, and the impromptu pizza delivery. This year, their apparent answer to that was NPH chatting up a number of seat fillers. If you're unfamiliar with seat fillers, they are the random people who step in to fill seats for stars who are backstage waiting to present awards or perform, so viewers at home don't notice any empty seats during the telecast. These seat filler gags fell very flat, and he even incorporated Octavia Spencer's seat filler into his Magic Box bit. Nice try, Neil.
3Terrence Howard's... Whatever That Was
While presenting a montage of Best Picture nominees Whiplash, Selma and The Imitation Game, Terrence Howard got incredibly (and awkwardly) emotional during what is normally a routine and brief speech. The actor even bumped into his microphone, causing a bit of feedback, just as the camera cut to Keira Knightley in the audience. The actor seemed to stumble over his lines, saying "I'm blown away right now myself," while attempting to laugh off his strange behavior. Was the actor drunk? Was there a TelePrompTer mishap? Did John Travolta pass off his Oscar awkwardness through some sort of seance? We may never know, but this brief presentation is surely one of the strangest moments of the night.
4Adam Levine's Wardrobe And Performance
Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine was the first performer of the night, singing his Oscar-nominated song "Lost Stars" from the movie Begin Again, and fans took to social media to blast both his choice of wardrobe, which many thought resembled a Johnny Rockets waiter uniform, and his performance of the song, which barely resembled the studio version of the track, with the actor failing to hit any of the high notes in the song. Fortunately for viewers, the worst performance was out of the way very early on in the ceremony.
5The Sound of Music Tribute
Why did this happen? Oh, right, because the beloved musical came out 50 years ago, but it felt so incredibly out of place, and by the time it happened, the ceremony was running so long that many fans wondered why this was even necessary. Don't get me wrong, Lady Gaga's performance was incredible, and yes, it was nice to see Julie Andrews take the stage, but it just seemed like such a random performance shoehorned in to an already-cramped ceremony. Of course, this was yet another aspect of the show that was shrouded in secrecy, and the surprise ultimately didn't pay off.
What do you think of our best and worst moments from The 87th Oscars? Were there any parts of last night's ceremony that you feel should be included on the list? Do you think Neil Patrick Harris should be asked to host next year? Chime in with your thoughts below, or let me know what you think on Twitter @GallagherMW.