By Matt Rooney
The opening monologue was fantastic; NPH owned it as host; a performance of nominated song “Everything is Awesome” lived up to its name; and three overdue actors (J.K. Simmons, Patricia Arquette and Julianne Moore) finally got the recognition they deserve. Overall this year’s Oscars ceremony was a tremendous hit and almost everything that deserved to win did.
But still, I somehow feel this will be yet another year where I went to bed saddened by the neglect of truly phenomenal films. Even my teddy, Sgt. Cuddles, couldn’t absorb all my tears.
The indescribable film “Boyhood,” once the unstoppable frontrunner, almost walked away empty-handed had it not been for the much-deserved win for Arquette for Supporting Actress. But that ties the for-some-reason-beloved but inferior “American Sniper” (Sound Editing) and the good-not-great “Big Hero 6” (Animated Feature, an expected win by fans but a slight shock for everyone who bet smart money on “Dragon 2”).
I, and probably everyone else who loves film, will forever look down on the Academy for denying “Boyhood” all that it was nominated for—especially the brave efforts of director Richard Linklater for taking on a 12-year production schedule. Very few directors would even think of the idea, let alone finish it, let alone create a masterpiece and let alone make about another seven movies in between.
It was even denied editing (an award it was considered a shoe-in for and the techniques of which will be taught in editing classes till the apocalypse) to “Whiplash”—a worthy victor I can’t deny.
Now anyone who follows the Oscars all season (about as early as late September until the night of) pretty much knows by the end what will win and what will have mud rubbed in its eye. The morning of the nominations it was all about the “Lego Movie” snub (the clear choice to take home the prize until that morning) and the almost total shut-out of “Selma.” But like all attention on issues of diversity that news died out quickly. It became all about “Boyhood” vs. “Birdman”—there could only be one.
Though I told myself if any movie should beat “Boyhood” it was “Birdman,” I can’t help but feel there was a sense of “kill the monster!” mentality when it came to “Boyhood.” Voters seemed to feel this need to strike it down because, well, it was the front-runner, and for some reason that is bad. So they rally behind a movie about their industry and their people and shower it with rapid praise and shoved “Boyhood” and everything great about it into a very dirty locker. By Sunday night it was screaming for help to a passing janitor while “Birdman” was crowned prom queen.
But I’m venting on behalf of what I believe to be one of the greatest movies of the last decade, and I won’t even go into the equal amount of disrespect for the astronomical “Interstellar”—which is another article entirely. Everyone who saw “Boyhood” knows it should’ve been the big winner, and maybe that’s a little better than winning. Like “Raging Bull,” “Citizen Kane,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “Goodfellas” and more it will stand the test of time and retain nobility as the unsung cinematic hero of 2014.
But the results are the results, and my other favorites like “Grand Budapest Hotel,” “Whiplash,” “The Imitation Game,” and yes, “Birdman” walked away with well-deserved victories, striking down “Sniper” at almost every turn—which almost makes up for everything.