"Birdman" and "The Grand Budapest Hotel" were the night's big winners at the 87th Academy Awards Sunday night, taking home four Oscars each. "Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)" took home the top award of best picture, as well as best director for Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu and best original screenplay. Long Island's Alexander Dinelaris Jr., was among the screenwriting team.
Eddie Redmayne won best actor for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in "The Theory of Everything," and Julianne Moore won best actress for playing a woman with early-onset Alzheimer's in "Still Alice."
"The Grand Budapest Hotel" took home mostly behind-the-scenes awards, including for costume design and Alexandre Desplat's original score. The underdog success story of the night, though, was "Whiplash," a small-budget, jazz-themed film that picked up three Oscars, including for supporting actor J.K. Simmons. As the awards piled up, the film's young writer-director, Damien Chazelle, could be seen tearing up in the audience.
Patricia Arquette won for supporting actress for her turn as a single mother in "Boyhood" and used her acceptance speech to draw attention to women's issues. She dedicated her Oscar to "every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation" and made a plea for "wage equality, once and for all."
Her speech was one of a few politically charged moments at an Oscar ceremony following a year of controversies. Hollywood has taken criticism for its lack of roles for women and for its all-white roster of Oscar acting nominees. In particular, attention focused on the civil rights drama "Selma," whose black director, Ava DuVernay, and black lead actor, David Oyelowo, were not nominated. Protests planned Sunday over the lack of diversity among Academy Award nominees were canceled at DuVernay's request.
Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, implicitly acknowledged the controversy with a short speech celebrating "the power of film as a universal language." Later, after a standing ovation for their performance of "Glory," the song from the film "Selma," newly crowned Oscar-winners Common and John Legend dedicated their awards to civil rights activists past and present. "When people are marching with our song," said Legend, "we want to tell you we are with you, we see you, we love you -- and march on."
Some other highlights:
THE RIGHT PRIORITIES. Winning his first-ever Oscar, for best supporting actor in "Whiplash," J.K. Simmons doesn't thank agents, lawyers or filmmakers, but praised his "remarkable" wife and "extraordinary" children. And he implored viewers: "If I may, call your mom. Call your dad. And tell them how much you love them. Don't text or email. Call them."
AWESOME MASH-UP. Best song nominee "Everything Is Awesome," from "The Lego Movie," turned into an extended pop-culture mix performed by Tegan and Sara, comedy group The Lonely Island, drummer Questlove and Devo leader Mark Mothersbaugh. As a bonus, nominees in the audience received Oscars made of Legos.
GLOM GAZINGO. That, or something like it, is how Idina Menzel introduced co-presenter John Travolta, who mangled her name at last year's Oscars. "It's not like it's going to follow me around for the rest of my life," she said of his famous flub. Travolta responded, "Yeah, tell me about it."