Oscar night 2015 is over and done, meaning discussions are now transpiring about the most memorable (be they charming or awkward) moments that transpired under Neil Patrick Harris’ watch as the host for the 87th Annual Academy Awards (as well as the overall quality of NPH’s hosting stint). It also means that the time has come to examine which films managed to pull an upset and walk away with the gold at the Oscar show – which, traditionally, tends to have one of the more predictable outcomes among the various shows of the movie awards season.
You can now read through the complete list of 2015 Oscar winners, but below we’ve highlighted five winners that came as somewhat of a surprise (as well as the reasoning behind their selection on this list).
Boyhood Shutout (Save for Patricia Arquette)
Richard Linklater and his Boyhood collaborators spent twelve years making the critically-acclaimed coming of adult age drama: a project that has been honored with such recognitions as Movie of the Year by the AFI Awards, the Best Film at the BAFTAs, and the Best Motion Picture – Drama at the Golden Globes, among other honors. There was a time when it was considered the frontrunner to not just be crowned Best Picture at the Oscars this year, but also to be awarded for such technical elements as Linklater’s direction and Sandra Adair’s editing – and ultimately, Patricia Arquette was the one who walked away with a (well-deserved) win for her performance as the longtime struggling mother in the movie
However, in the final weeks leading up to Oscar night 2015, there were signs the tide was turning, as Birdman continued to pick up as many (if not more) awards show honors than Boyhood. Meanwhile, criticisms of Linklater’s film started to become more commonplace – case in point, Boyhood was even the sole Best Pic nominee this year to get the Honest Trailer treatment ahead of the Oscars ceremony. Still, it came as something of a surprise when only Arquette was recognized on Oscar night, as the expectation was that Linklater would at least walk away with the title of Best Director (more on that later).
Eddie Redmayne Beating Michael Keaton for Best Actor
Michael Keaton and Eddie Redmayne were, in many ways, neck and neck ahead of their competition in the Best Actor category leading up to Oscar Night 2015. However, Keaton (arguably) appeared to have the edge heading into the Academy Awards show, being a seasoned and beloved performer of the big screen for several decades – one who had compellingly brought a meta-version of himself in the Hollywood-riffing Birdman, no less. Redmayne had likewise continued to earn praise and pick up accolades, but the voices of dissent were also gaining in volume – claiming that he was being recognized more for the physical aspects of his onscreen turn as Stephen Hawking than the emotional components.
Redmayne can currently be seen on the big screen camping it up like there’s no tomorrow in the Wachowskis’ space opera Jupiter Ascending, but even that wasn’t enough to prevent him from taking home an Oscar for his work as Hawking in the biographical feature The Theory of Everything. That said, Redmayne’s victory wasn’t a huge shock and shouldn’t go down as an especially controversial Oscar selection (especially not after his enjoyably giddy reaction to winning). Still, on a night where Birdman ended up getting a fair amount of love, it’s a bit surprising the Academy’s “charity” didn’t extend to the film’s celebrated lead.
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