Both "The Imitation Game" and "The Theory of Everything" tugged at my heartstrings. They told stories of incredibly brilliant and fascinating men who accomplished so much despite any obstacles that came their way. Both Benedict Cumberbatch and Eddie Redmayne were exquisite, making us forget they were actors, instead allowing us to view them as the real people they were depicting.
"Boyhood accomplished what no other film has done before it-taking the same actors over the course of 12 years on an extraordinary filmmaking journey. The end result? A moving portrayal of a single mother and her children growing up throughout the years. You feel as if you are watching a documentary of a real family. The acting is top-notch, and the story flows seamlessly. Patricia Arquette has never been better, and it is so exciting to see her have this much recognition. I loved her speech, and I especially loved Meryl Streep's reaction to it. Side note-there is nothing Meryl Streep does that I do not like (still pretending "Mamma Mia" doesn't exist).
"Birdman" was a quirky, yet brilliant, portrayal of an actor attempting a comeback on the broadway stage. Michael Keaton has never been better, giving quite possibly the best performance of his career (Side note: I still think he's the best Batman. Who's with me?). If it weren't for J.K. Simmons's amazing, unforgettable performance in "Whiplash," Edward Norton would have won the Oscar with no doubt in my mind. He is long overdue, and he will win someday. He basically dominates the first part of "Birdman." You cannot take your eyes off of him. And Emma Stone? Man, I love her. She is so talented, it makes me sick. She was awesome going against type for the part. I happen to think Zach Galifianakis is the film's unsung hero. His performance is overshadowed by the other amazing performances in the film. Here's my shout-out to you, Mr. Galifianakis. You have proven that you can display more depth and substance to the parts you play instead of just doing goofy parts like "The Hangover" (which you rocked, by the way, let's just make that clear).
"Whiplash"-what a treat for film and music lovers alike. This film possesses an electrifying soundtrack with heart-stopping musical numbers that get your heart pumping and your blood flowing. You can't help but tap your hands and feet as if you are a skilled drummer yourself. The final sequence-oh man, what an exciting scene! Miles Teller deserved an Oscar nomination just for this part alone-he does his own drumming! Then there's J.K. Simmons. I think everyone and their mother has heard about how great his performance was, so I don't need to say too much about it. I could sing his praises all day long. So glad to see him get this recognition. He has delivered such great performances throughout his long career.
"The Grand Budapest Hotel"-masterful storytelling with glorious visuals. This movie is a real treat for movie buffs.
As for the show itself, say whatever you want about Neil Patrick Harris as a host, but I thought he did a great job. Perhaps it's because I'm bias on account of the fact that he's one of my favorite actors/celebrities. His opening number with Anna Kendrick and Jack Black was a joy to watch. Sure, some of his jokes were not the best, but he has such a presence, such a knack for being on stage. He was born to perform.
Let's talk about some other moments in the show that stood out for me:
-Lady Gaga-whoa! I knew she was a talented singer, but I had no idea she was capable of belting out show tunes/songs from movie musicals so beautifully. I am not a fan of "The Sound of Music" (too cheesy of a musical, even for me); however, the music is gorgeous, and Lady Gaga sang so well, I actually have somewhat of a desire to see her portray the role of Maria in any production of "The Sound of Music."
-The performance of "Everything is Awesome" was immensely enjoyable. I loved the Lego Oscars (I want one!). The exclusion of "The Lego Movie" in the Best Animated Feature category is a crime, still quite the enigma. It will certainly go down as one of the biggest Oscar snubs in the ceremony's history.
So there you have it, folks: the Oscar season has come to an end once again. I can't wait to see what 2015 has in store for the film industry. Until next year's Oscars!