Oscars serve as platform for outspoken winners

Despite the low viewing numbers, the 87th Oscars proved entertaining with onstage controversial speeches

The 87th Academy Awards took place on Sunday, Feb. 22. Neil Patrick Harris’ exceptional hosting was not enough to hide what a dull year 2014 was for film. This summer experienced the worst theater attendance in over 17 years, which may explain that this year’s Oscar viewership was the lowest since 2009.

One word could summarize the night: “Birdman.” Alejandro González Iñárritu’s comedy/drama won four Oscars out of the nine for which it was nominated, including the Academy Award for Best Cinematography, Best Original Screenplay, Best Director and Best Picture. The immense success of the Mexican director’s film prompted Sean Penn to say “Who gave this son of a b**ch his green card?” while announcing the Best Picture winner.

Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” also won four Academy Awards out of a whopping nine nominations but in less notable categories. The Academy Award for Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Makeup and Best Original Music Score all went to Anderson’s film.

Shockingly, Richard Linklater’s critically-acclaimed “Boyhood” won only one Oscar out of the six for which it was nominated. The film won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress but lost for Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing and Best Picture.

Following his success at the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards, it came as no surprise that English actor Eddie Redmayne won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything.” In his acceptance speech, an ecstatic Redmayne stated, “I’m fully aware that I am a lucky, lucky man. This Oscar belongs to all of those people around the world battling ALS.” Following Redmayne’s win, Hawking posted a congratulatory message to the 33-year-old actor on Facebook, writing “Congratulations to Eddie Redmayne for winning an #Oscar for playing me in The Theory of Everything Movie. Well done Eddie, I’m very proud of you. -SH.”

Actress Julianne Moore won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her leading role in “Still Alice,” in which she plays a linguistics professor at an Ivy League school suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Moore has won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding by a Female Actor in a Leading Role, among other honors. It was the first Academy Award win and fifth nomination for the 54-year-old actress over the course of 18  years.

Not surprisingly, the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor went to J.K. Simmons, who, like Moore, had already won a Golden Globe and a SAG Award for their respective performances. The “Whiplash” star delivered a touching acceptance speech, thanking the Academy, everyone that helped make the film and especially his wife, Michelle. He also told the audience to call their loved ones and express their appreciation.

“Call your mom, call your dad,” Simmons said. “If you’re lucky enough to have a parent, or two alive on this planet, call them. Don’t text, don’t email, call them on the phone, tell them you love them and thank them and listen to them for as long as they want to talk to you.”

Perhaps an even more memorable and highlighted acceptance speech came from Patricia Arquette, who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood.” The 46-year-old actress received a standing ovation for her outspokenly feminist acceptance speech, as she discussed the importance of income equality for women in the U.S.

“It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America,” Arquette said.

Arquette followed up her riveting comments by stating backstage that “it’s time for all the women in America, and all the men who love women in America, and all the men that love women and all the gay people and all the people of color that we’ve all fought for to fight for us now.” This statement prompted immediate harsh backlash from writers such as Alexandra Petri of the Washington Post expressing their distaste.

“Get your fashion secondhand from Hollywood, absolutely. Buy all the stars’ recommended shampoos and perfumes. But your political opinions? Better to find a different supplier,” Petri said.

Despite having the lowest viewership since 2009, the 87th Academy Awards was an eventful night as several deserving artists were honored with the highest award available in their profession.

“Birdman” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” were the night’s big winners with four Academy Awards each.