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Everyone nominated for any Oscar is a winner by any definition of the word, but the Academy Awards are undeniably a competition. And the contest doesn’t stop at who wins the gold and who heads to the Governor’s Ball trying to find something to do with their empty hands.
In fact, when a winner steps to the podium to accept a statue, the most intense competition of the 87th Academy Awards begins: Which winner will standout with the most-heartfelt expression of family love? Which winner will establish social consciousness supremacy? And which winner will be the best utter emotional mess?
Alejandro G. Iñárritu (above) wins an anti-immigration activist’s worst nightmare award, while accepting the Oscar for best picture Birdman: On his third trip to the podium, Iñárritu saluted “my fellow Mexicans,” and elaborated: “I pray that we can find and build a government that we deserve, and the ones that live in this country, who are a part of the latest generation of immigrants in this country, I just pray that they can be treated with the same dignity and respect as the ones who came before and built this incredible immigrant nation.”
Graham Moore wins most poignant and purposeful personal revelation, while accepting best adapted screenplay Oscar for The Imitation Game: “When I was 16 years old, I tried to kill myself because I felt different and that I didn’t belong. Now I’m here, and I want this moment to be for that kid who feels weird or different. Stay weird, stay different.”
J.K. Simmons wins most refreshing outburst, while accepting the best supporting actor in Whiplash. Simmons is an actor’s actor. Maybe his humble-grateful act was all a shtick, but the Whiplash winner’s earnest tribute to his wife and his above-average children, whose above-average qualities their father attributes entirely to their mother, was fully devoid of showbiz boilerplate. Rather than thank agents and lawyers, Simmons exhorted the Academy and anyone else who might be watching to, “Call your parents!” Use the phone, he insisted; don’t text. Call and tell them that you love them. Listen to them for as long as they want to talk to you.
John Legend, flanked byCommon, won the harshest truth told award, while accepting the Oscar for best original song, “Glory” from Selma: “We are the most incarcerated country in the world. There are more black men who live under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850.”
Patricia Arquette wins most-earnest social-justice pivot, while accepting best supporting actress in Boyhood. Arquette started off adhering to standard acceptance etiquette, unfolding a sheet of paper and thanking Boyhood’s cast and crew (above-the-line stars by name). After shouting out to the father of her children, her parents and siblings, Boyhood’s Mom shifted gears to honor every woman who’s ever had a child, and ended with a full change-the-world surge: “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all, and to have equal rights for women in the United States of America.”
Alejandro G. Iñárritu wins best shift from jokester to philosopher, while accepting the best director Oscar for Birdman: “Tonight I am wearing the real Michael Keaton tighty-whities. They are tight and smell like balls. This is crazy: Talking about that little prick called ego. Ego loves competition because for someone to win, someone has to lose, but the paradox is that true art, and true individual expression as all the work of these incredible fellow filmmakers is, can’t be compared or labeled or defeated because our work will only be judged by time.”
Director Laura Poitras, with investigative reporter Glenn Greenwald at her side, won most important prepared message, while accepting best documentary Oscar for Citizen Four: After thanking the brave organizations that support serious documentary films, Poitras reiterated the warning sentiments expressed by Greenwald at the previous day’s Independent Spirit Awards: “The disclosures that Edward Snowden reveals don’t just affect our privacy but our democracy itself.”
Don Hall wins best evocation of childhood ambition, while accepting the Oscar for best animated feature for Big Hero 6: “Once upon a time, there was a freckled-face little boy who told his mom and his dad that one day, he was gonna work at Walt Disney Animation,” said Hall as the woodwinds and strings attempted to breeze him off. “And they did something amazing: They supported him, and they believed him. And from the bottom of his heart, he thanks them.”
Director Pawel Pawlikowski wins most persistent stream of gratitude, while accepting the best foreign language award for Ida. Foreign language winners tend to scale a level of exuberance beyond the U.S. norm (think Roberto Benigni in 1998). The Polish filmmaker with an understated, “We made a film about the need for silence and withdrawal… and here we are at the epicenter of noise and excitement. Life is full of surprises.” Pawlikowski shifted into high-zeal mode just as the orchestra struck up the music to chase him offstage. When the orchestra eventually ran out of steam, Pawlikowski was still name checking, reaching a running time that challenged Ida’s 82 minutes.
Eddie Redmayne wins most ingratiating young man, while accepting the Oscar for best actor in The Theory of Everything. Redmayne seized up in emotion and—though he does not mention the old guys, such as Michael Keaton, he bumped out for the winhe does cede ownership of his Oscar to all families around the world battling ALS, and ends with a charming announcement to his wife that they have a little guy coming to live in their apartment.
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