Hollywood – AAP Birdman swept down and claimed the best picture and directing Oscars, Australia’s two nominees came up short, Englishman Eddie Redmayne gave a big thanks to TV soap Neighbours and Julianne Moore kept to the script and won best actress.
The 87th Academy Awards, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, was a blend of gags, political statements and heart-breaking messages.
While Harris took to the stage dressed just in his underpants and Idina Menzel poked fun at John Travolta for messing up her name at last year’s awards, many of the winners of film’s highest honour took their moment on stage in Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre to shine a spotlight on burning issues.
Patricia Arquette, who won the supporting actress Oscar for Boyhood, called for equal rights and wage equality for women.
‘It is time for all of the women in America and all the men that love women and all of the gay people and all of the people of colour that we’ve all fought for to fight for us now,’ Arquette, continuing her message backstage, told reporters.
Supporting actor winner JK Simmons, for Whiplash, urged the billion-plus audience to call their mother and father.
‘Don’t text. Don’t email,’ Simmons said.
‘Call them on the phone, tell them you love them.’
Graham Moore, winner of adapted screenplay for The Imitation Game, told the audience he attempted suicide when he was 16 because he thought he was ‘weird’ and he hoped his victory would inspire others who today felt they were in a similar position.
John Legend and rapper Common, who brought A-List audience members to tears with a performance of their Oscar-winning original song, Glory, from the Martin Luther King Jr-civil rights movie Selma, pointed to the struggles black Americans faced.
‘Selma is now,’ Legend said.
‘The struggle for justice is right now.’
Best picture was a contest between Birdman, starring Michael Keaton as a washed up superhero who hopes a Broadway show will resurrect his career, and Boyhood, the Richard Linklater-directed film shot intermittently over 12 years using the same actors.
Birdman won the duel, taking best picture, directing, original screenplay and cinematography.
Mexico’s Alejandro Inarritu, as producer, director and screenwriter, walked away with three Oscars.
‘Maybe next year the government will inflict some immigration rules to the Academy – two Mexicans in a row, that’s suspicious I guess,’ Inarritu, referring to last year’s directing winner, Gravity’s Alfonso Cuaron, said.
Redmayne, who plays theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, said he first got the acting bug by watching Australian TV soap Neighbours as a boy growing up in England.
‘I learned a lot from them from watching them daily as a kid,’ Redmayne laughed backstage.
Moore, who won every major best actress prize during awards season for her role in Still Alice as a linguistics professor with the early onset of Alzheimer’s, added the Oscar to her trophy cabinet.
It was not a great night for Australia, with Adelaide visual effects supervisor Tim Crosbie and NSW mid-north coast sound mixer David Lee both missing out on Oscars.
Crosbie, who led a team of 70 at Adelaide’s Rising Sun Pictures to create a mind-bending scene where time stands still in X-Men: Days of Future Past, lost out to the visual effects team from Interstellar.
Lee, who worked on the Angelina Jolie-directed Unbroken, won an Oscar in 2000 for his work on The Matrix, but this year the award went to the team from the independent film Whiplash.
The Academy continued to throw curve balls in the animated feature category, first failing to nominate The Lego Movie, then snubbing favourite How To Train Your Dragon 2 by handing Disney’s Big Hero 6 the Oscar.