Thoughts on Oscars 2015, and all the best picture nominees reviewed

 The victor of the night -  Birdman  director  Alejandro González Iñárritu

The victor of the night - Birdman director Alejandro González Iñárritu

Self important, ludicrous, racist, glamorous, over and done with. The 87th Academy Awards are behind us. Aside from some Lego-based dance numbers, controversial award-winner outbursts, award winners battling against playoff music, and John Travolta doing his...thing, here are just a  few things we learned:

Against many expectations, Boyhood ended up bamboozled by Birdman:

In a night where all the upsets seemed to be held back until the last few minutes, Richard Linklater's acclaimed coming-of-age tale ultimately, and against this writer's expectations and hopes, lost out to Alejandro González Iñárritu's Birdman in the Director and Picture award categories. It ended the night with just one Oscar, for Patricia Arquette's supporting turn in Linklater's picture. Birdman is by no means a bad film, in fact it is a very good one. But Boyhood felt truly unique this year.

It was a good night for Wes Anderson and Damien Chazelle too:

As expected, Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel deservedly triumphed in many technical categories including production design, costume and makeup (it is an Anderson film, after all), but it also scooped best score for composer Alexandre Desplat (this writer had hoped for Hans Zimmer's Interstellar score to be rewarded). Whiplash from Damien Chazelle ended the night with three awards (Best Supporting Actor, Editing and Sound Mixing), just behind Anderson's four.

There were few surprises in the acting categories:

J.K. Simmons claimed Best Supporting Actor for Whiplash, Julianne Moore received Best Actress for Still Alice, and Patricia Arquette took Best Supporting Actress for Boyhood. All as expected. Eddie Redmayne had a ghost of an outside chance of losing to Michael Keaton for Best Actor, but that minor danger did not materialise and the award for his turn in The Theory of Everything was eventually in his hands. Aside from Keaton seeming more deserving than Redmayne, none of these choices made by the Academy felt wrong.

There was a bit of politics too:

With its absence from many of the major categories having already caused much controversy, Ava DuVernay's excellent Martin Luther King biopic Selma was unsurprisingly an imposing presence at this year's Oscars. John Legend and Common's on stage performance of the title song "Glory", and their later acceptance speech for Best Song for the same track, were undeniably some of the most charged sections of the evening. During their speech, the duo did not avoid on the nose references to recent events in Ferguson and the current incarceration rate of black Americans amongst other iniquities. Patricia Arquette meanwhile received rapturous applause during her acceptance speech (with none less than Meryl Streep cheerleading) for her attacks on the glass ceiling women still face in America today. And if that wasn't enough, Laura Poitras' timely and fascinating documentary on NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden - Citizenfour  -  won Best Documentary as was widely anticipated.

 Best Supporting Actress winner Patricia Arquette

Best Supporting Actress winner Patricia Arquette

Best Picture Nominees Reviewed:

American Sniper
The Imitation Game
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Theory of Everything


Complete list of winners below:

Best supporting actor
WINNER: JK Simmons for Whiplash
Robert Duvall for The Judge
Ethan Hawke for Boyhood
Edward Norton for Birdman
Mark Ruffalo for Foxcatcher

Achievement in costume design
WINNER: The Grand Budapest Hotel – Milena Canonero
Inherent Vice – Mark Bridges
Into the Woods – Colleen Atwood
Maleficent – Anna B Sheppard
Mr Turner – Jacqueline Durran

Achievement in makeup and hairstyling
WINNER: The Grand Budapest Hotel – Frances Hannon, Mark Coulier
Foxcatcher – Bill Corso, Dennis Liddiard
Guardians of the Galaxy – Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou, David White

Best foreign-language film
WINNER: Ida – Paweł Pawlikowski
Tangerines – Zaza Urushadze
Leviathan – Andrey Zvyagintsev
Wild Tales – Damián Szifrón
Timbuktu – Abderrahmane Sissako

Best live-action short film
WINNER: The Phone Call – Mat Kirkby, James Lucas
Aya – Oded Binnun, Mihal Brezis
Boogaloo and Graham – Michael Lennox, Ronan Blaney
Butter Lamp – Wei Hu, Julien Féret
Parvaneh – Talkhon Hamzavi, Stefan Eichenberger

Best documentary short subject
WINNER: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 – Ellen Goosenberg Kent, Dana Perry
Joanna – Aneta Kopacz
Our Curse – Tomasz Sliwinski, Maciej Slesicki
The Reaper – Gabriel Serra
White Earth – Christian Jensen

Achievement in sound mixing
WINNER: Whiplash – Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins, Thomas Curley
American Sniper – John T Reitz, Gregg Rudloff, Walt Martin
Birdman – Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Thomas Varga
Interstellar – Gary Rizzo, Gregg Landaker, Mark Weingarten
Unbroken – Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, David Lee

Achievement in sound editing
WINNER: American Sniper – Alan Robert Murray, Bub Asman
Birdman – Aaron Glascock, Martín Hernández
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – Brent Burge, Jason Canovas
Interstellar – Richard King
Unbroken – Becky Sullivan, Andrew DeCristofaro

Best supporting actress
Winner for Best Supporting Actress  ...Patricia Arquette!
Patricia Arquette wins best supporting actress. Photograph: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images
WINNER: Patricia Arquette for Boyhood
Laura Dern for Wild
Keira Knightley for The Imitation Game
Emma Stone for Birdman
Meryl Streep for Into the Woods

Achievement in visual effects
WINNER: Interstellar – Paul J Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter, Scott R Fisher
Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Dan Deleeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill, Daniel Sudick 
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, Erik Winquist
Guardians of the Galaxy – Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner, Paul Corbould
X-Men: Days of Future Past – Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie, Cameron Waldbauer
Best animated short film
WINNER: Feast – Patrick Osborne, Kristina Reed
The Bigger Picture – Daisy Jacobs, Chris Hees
The Dam Keeper – Robert Kondo, Daisuke “Dice” Tsutsumi
Me and My Moulton – Torill Kove
A Single Life – Joris Oprins

Best animated feature film
WINNER: Big Hero 6
The Boxtrolls
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Song of the Sea
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Best production design
WINNER: The Grand Budapest Hotel: Adam Stockhausen, Anna Pinnock
The Imitation Game: Maria Djurkovic, Tatiana Macdonald
Interstellar: Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis
Into the Woods: Dennis Gassner, Anna Pinnock
Mr Turner: Suzie Davies, Charlotte Watts

Achievement in cinematography
WINNER: Birdman: Emmanuel Lubezki
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Robert D Yeoman
Ida: Lukasz Zal, Ryszard Lenczewski
Mr Turner: Dick Pope
Unbroken: Roger Deakins

Achievement in film editing
WINNER: Whiplash – Tom Cross
Boyhood – Sandra Adair
The Imitation Game – William Goldenberg
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Barney Pilling
American Sniper – Joel Cox, Gary Roach

Best documentary feature
Laura Poitras, second left, accepts her award for Citizenfour. Facebook Twitter Pinterest
Laura Poitras, second left, accepts her award for Citizenfour. Photograph: Kevin Winter/Getty Images
WINNER: Citizenfour – Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy, Dirk Wilutzky
Finding Vivian Maier – John Maloof, Charlie Siskel
Last Days in Vietnam – Rory Kennedy, Keven McAlester
The Salt of the Earth – Wim Wenders, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, David Rosier
Virunga – Orlando von Einsiedel, Joanna Natasegara

Best original song
WINNER: Glory from Selma – Lonnie Lynn (Common), John Stephens (John Legend)
The Lego Movie – Shawn Patterson (Everything Is Awesome)
Beyond the Lights – Diane Warren (Grateful)
Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me – Glen Campbell, Julian Raymond (I’m Not Gonna Miss You)
Begin Again – Gregg Alexander, Danielle Brisebois (Lost Stars)

Best original score
WINNER: Alexandre Desplat – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Alexandre Desplat – The Imitation Game 
Hans Zimmer – Interstellar
Jóhann Jóhannsson– The Theory of Everything 
Gary Yershon – Mr Turner

Original screenplay
WINNER: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo – Birdman
Richard Linklater – Boyhood
E Max Frye, Dan Futterman – Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson, Hugo Guinness – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Dan Gilroy – Nightcrawler

Adapted screenplay

WINNER: Graham Moore – The Imitation Game
Jason Hall – American Sniper
Paul Thomas Anderson – Inherent Vice
Anthony McCarten – The Theory of Everything
Damien Chazelle – Whiplash

Best director
WINNER: Alejandro González Iñárritu for Birdman
Richard Linklater for Boyhood
Bennett Miller for Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson for The Grand Budapest Hotel
Morten Tyldum for The Imitation Game

Best actor
Eddie Redmayne
Eddie Redmayne with his best actor Oscar Photograph: Chris Pizzello/Invision

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WINNER: Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything

Steve Carell for Foxcatcher
Benedict Cumberbatch for The Imitation Game
Bradley Cooper for American Sniper
Michael Keaton for Birdman

Best actress
WINNER: Julianne Moore for Still Alice
Marion Cotillard for Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones for The Theory of Everything
Rosamund Pike for Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon for Wild

Best picture
WINNER: Birdman
American Sniper
The Imitation Game
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Theory of Everything


Owen Van Spall

Greetings. I am a Film History MA graduate from Birkbeck University of London and a trained NCTJ qualified journalist. Apart from a long history of film and news writing for this site and various other publications, I am also a trained photographer with my own camera kit. I write mostly every day. Along the way I have picked up work experience at Sight & Sound, The Guardian, The Independent, The FT, The New Statesman, and more. I have written hard news stories, features, arranged and conducted interviews with celebrities, film directors and other major cultural figures, arranged photo shoots, and covered film festivals, conferences and events in the UK and abroad. If you wish to commission me or enquire about full-time opportunities please find my CV and contact details below. A physical portfolio of print only cuttings can also be provided.