As is common for the telecast, the presentation of the 87th annual Academy Awards on Sunday night drew mixed reviews on everything from Neil Patrick Harris’s hosting performance, Lady Gaga’s “Sound of Music” tribute, Graham Moore’s acceptance speech in the adapted screenplay category and a spate of other matters.
Perhaps because none of the heavily nominated films were box office home runs in the league of last year’s “Gravity,” interest and ratings overall were down. The telecast garnered about 36 million viewers in the U.S., making it the least-watched Oscars since 2009 (when Hugh Jackman hosted) and the third-lowest Oscars in the awards’ broadcast history, according to Deadline.
“Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” each won four Oscars with the former taking the best director and best picture awards. “The Imitation Game,” a biopic of gay World War II-era British codebreaker Alan Turing, was nominated in eight categories but won only the screenplay award.
In accepting it, Moore said he’d attempted suicide at 16 “because I felt weird and different and I felt like I did not belong.” He then urged young viewers to “stay weird, stay different.” Although he never said the word gay, many assumed he was referencing recent gay teen suicides, especially considering his connection to the Turing film. But Moore told BuzzFeed at the Governor’s Ball later that night that he’s “not gay.”
Out twin singers Tegan and Sara performed “Everything is Awesome” from “The Lego Movie.” The Shawn Patterson-penned song lost to “Glory” from “Selma.”
In the acting categories, Julianne Moore won best actress for “Still Alice,” Eddie Redmayne won best actor for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything,” J.K. Simmons won best supporting actor for “Whiplash” and Patricia Arquette won best supporting actress for “Boyhood.”
Lady Gaga, honoring the 50th anniversary of “The Sound of Music” with a medley of its songs, drew largely praise from many on social media who mentioned her range and ability to sing many genres of music as also evidenced by her performance on the Grammys on Feb. 8 when she sang with collaborator Tony Bennett.
And Harris, such a hit when he hosted the Emmys and Tonys, drew surprisingly lackluster reviews especially compared to Ellen DeGeneres, another openly gay host, who helmed the ceremony last year. Harris, who even came out in only socks and underwear at one point (in a spoof of “Birdman”), was criticized for mangling names, making a joke after one winner referenced her son’s suicide and going on and on about his predictions being locked in a box on stage all through the evening.
Many gay fans felt Joan Rivers, a staple of the red carpet for years, was snubbed by not being included in the “in memoriam” segment, though her film work was largely comprised of voice-over, cameo and documentary work.