It was an Oscar show that was sometimes a little off-key, as pretty faces in lovely dresses and tuxes rattled off largely expected winners and some of the misguided choices made by the show’s producers and host Neil Patrick Harris fell a little flat.
But in true Oscar spirit, there were also some great moments to savor. Below, six to consider before voting in our poll. And if your favorite isn’t there, sound off in the comments section and we will add it.
1. Lady Gaga performing “The Sound of Music” medley
Before the show, I was one of the likely many detractors expecting this performance to be either passable or another unwarranted musical number train-wreck. How wrong I was. She completely stole the show as she belted out a tribute to the classic 1965 Best Picture champ. She reinvigorated her career tonight as she did away with all of the gimmicks and headline-grabbing outfits and really brought her A-game to the show. I tip my hat to her beautiful vocal performance.
2. Patricia Arquette demanding equality for women
Some of the best Oscar moments featured impassioned political messages of hope or protest: Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, Richard Gere, Michael Moore. And now Arquette, accepting her Best Supporting Actress trophy for “Boyhood. After rattling off some names, she goes in for the kill, shedding light on a topic that is not always front and center in the struggle for headlines. It was a truly great moment, as she stirred up the crowd in support of her plea for equal pay and equality for women.
3. Common and John Legend singing “Glory“
Sometimes performances are so transcendent, uplifting and moving that they not only bring the audience to their feet, but to tears. Their rendition of “Glory,” which preceded their Oscar win, was one of the best Original Song performances on the show in recent years. Those tears streaming down the faces of David Oyelowo and Chris Pine, not to mention the tangible sense that the song was an important message for strength, solidarity and hope, was an Oscar moment I won’t forget.
4. J.K. Simmons telling us to “Thank your mom and dad”
Accepting his Supporting Actor Oscar for “Whiplash,” he delivered a beautifully simple, genuine and sincere acceptance speech. The audiencestood to applaud a real journeyman actor. As it was a foregone conclusion that he was going to win, I’m grateful that he provided a moment to honor all of our parents.
5. Emotional acceptance speeches
Genuine emotion was the true winner tonight. Eddie Redmayne’s awe and joy was infectious and charming. I loved Julianne Moore’s relief and humility and Graham Moore’s heartfelt plea to marginalized teenagers everywhere. The speeches maketh the show. Let’s let the winners, who are flooded with true and unfiltered emotion, actually speak from the heart. That’s what we want to see.
6. Jaw-dropping surprises
They are really hard to come by these days. We analyze and debate and ruminate over these nominations for weeks and weeks. By Oscar night, every other awards group has spoken as we near what we unfortunately see as the film awards season finish line. So when a genuine surprise comes along, it’s such a welcome jolt of energy to the same old same old. Case in point, “Big Hero 6” was certainly in with a chance, but the pundits overwhelmingly had “How to Train Your Dragon 2” in the lead for the Best Animated Feature prize. If only there were more of these!