“Birdman” soared at the 87th Annual Academy Awards on Sunday, taking home four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.
The ceremony also saw “The Grand Budapest Hotel” take four awards, including best original score, and “Whiplash” score three gold men, including a Best Supporting Actor award for J.K. Simmons.
While “Birdman,” “Budapest” and “Whiplash” racked up the most awards for the night, each of the Best Picture nominees took home an award of some sort during Sunday’s ceremony. “American Sniper” picked up a trophy for sound editing, while “Selma” scored for Best Original Song (“Glory”) and “The Theory of Everything” star Eddie Redmayne walked away with Best Actor honors.
Patricia Arquette’s performance in “Boyhood” earned her a best supporting actress award, while “The Imitation Game” walked away with a trophy for best adapted screenplay.
Host Neil Patrick Harris started off the night by jokingly addressing the Caucasian-heavy lineup of this year’s Oscars nominees, cracking wise about the not-terribly-diverse lineup of talent.
“Tonight we honor Hollywood’s best and whitest — sorry, brightest,” Harris joked at the top of the ceremony.
Harris hasn’t been the only one to call out the overbearing whiteness of the nominees. After the Oscar nominees were announced, with 20 white acting nominees, the Twitterverse stood up and took notice, spawning the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite.
Shortly thereafter, Harris launched into a graphics-heavy musical number, which gave nods to classics (“E.T.,” “Citizen Kane”) and not-so-classics (“Basic Instinct”) alike. The cheeky lyrics included lines such as, “And no one’s drunk and bitter yet ’cause no one has lost” and “I secretly hope that someone pulls a Kanye West,” a reference to the rapper’s ceremony-disrupting streak.
During the number, Harris was joined by Anna Kendrick and Jack Black, the latter of whom offered his cynical take on blockbuster Hollywood offerings. (“All we get is superheroes,” Black sang at one point.)
The first award of the night, for best supporting actor, went to “Whiplash” actor J.K. Simmons, who heaped praise upon his wife and children, and implored the audience to reach out to their own parents.
“If you’re lucky enough to have a parent or two alive on this planet, call ‘em. Don’t text. Don’t email. Call them on the phone. Tell ‘em you love ‘em, and thank them, and listen to them for as long as they want to talk to you,” Simmons implored.
An early bit of spectacle came with the performance of “The Lego Movie’s” signature song “Everything Is Awesome,” during which indie rock-pop duo Tegan and Sara teamed with Andy Samberg and his The Lonely Island cohorts, along with the song’s producer, Mark Mothersbaugh, for a performance that exploded into an eruption of cowboys, astronauts, construction workers and Lego Oscars distributed to the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Steve Carell.
At one point, Harris proved he was willing to put it all — or at least most of it — on the line during one skit, stripping down to his underwear and taking the stage in an apparent spoof of the Michael Keaton film “Birdman,” which later won the Best Picture award. The moment came as he introduced presenters Miles Teller and Margot Robbie — who, incidentally, were clothed.
Another standout performance came via Lady Gaga, who belted out a medley of songs from 1965’s “The Sound of Music,” prior to the presentation of the Best Original Score Oscar (which went to “The Grand Budapest Hotel”). The “Poker Face” chanteuse worked her pipes on “The Hills Are Alive” and “My Favorite Things,” before being joined onstage by “Sound of Music” star Andrews.
John Travolta, who infamously mangled “Let It Go” singer Idina Menzel’s name at last year’s Oscars, received some degree of redemption at this year’s ceremony, appearing alongside Menzel to present for Best Original Song.
Naturally, however, Travolta received some ribbing.
“Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage my very dear friend, Glom Gazingo,” Menzel said while welcoming him onstage.
“I deserve that,” Travolta replied.
Harris also got a dig in at Travolta’s name-maiming moment last year, at one point joking, “Benedict Cumberbatch: It’s not only the most awesome name in show business, it’s also the sound you get when you ask John Travolta to announce Ben Affleck.