Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) soared to the top of the pack Sunday night at the 87th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Calif.
The bombastic comedy, which went into the broadcast with nine nominations, took home four awards including best picture and best director for Mexican filmmaker Alejandro G. Inarritu. It also won accolades for cinematography and original screenplay.
"Maybe next year the government will inflict immigration restrictions," said Innaritu, recalling last year's best director winner, Alfonso Cuaron. "Two Mexicans in a row. That's suspicious, I guess."
The satire stars Michael Keaton as a fading actor, whose shining days as a superhero are long past. The all-star cast also includes Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Andrea Riseborough, Amy Ryan, Emma Stone and Naomi Watts.
Wes Anderson's comic confection The Grand Budapest Hotel, which tied with Birdman for nominations going into Sunday's gala, came out tied in the awards tally. The European caper — released back around last year's Academy Awards — also took home four Oscars including costume design, and makeup and styling and production design.
A 'lucky, lucky man'
One of the night's most animated acceptance speeches came from Eddie Redmayne, who appeared genuinely flabbergasted by his win for best actor.
The British actor took the honour for his touching and transformational performance of astrophysicist Stephen Hawking in the romantic biopic The Theory of Everything.
"I am fully aware that I am a lucky, lucky man," gushed the 33-year-old, clutching his Oscar.
"This belongs to all of the people around the world battling ALS and it belongs to one exceptional family," said Redmayne who dedicated the award to Stephen Hawking and his first wife Jane.
Julianne Moore also took top honours for her portrayal of a brilliant mind beset with a difficult medical diagnosis.
The veteran Hollywood actress won best actress for her portrait of a successful Columbia University linguistics professor, mother and wife, who is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease.
"I'm so happy, I'm thrilled that we were able to shine a light on Alzheimer's disease," Moore said. "So many people who have this disease feel marginalized. People who have Alzheimer's disease deserve to be seen so we can find a cure."
It was the 54-year-old's first Oscar in five acting nominations. She beat out Marion Cotillard, Felicity Jones, Rosamund Pike and Reese Witherspoon.
Oscar host Neil Patrick Harris kicked off the annual Tinseltown love-in with a tongue-in-cheek Broadway-style number that poked fun at the show's lack of diversity.
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"Tonight we honour Hollywood's best and whitest, I mean brightest," quipped Harris, who then broke into a chipper tune with Into The Woods star Anna Kendrick.
But comedic actor and satirical singer Jack Black interrupted the song with a dark verse on Hollywood's ills.
"This industry's in flux, it's run by mucky mucks, pitching tents for tent poles and chasing Chinese bucks," sang Black, who also lamented the industry's addiction to sequels and superheroes.
'Call your mom'
J.K. Simmons took the first Oscar of the evening, and of his career, for his portrayal of a sadistic music teacher in the drumming drama Whiplash.
"Wow, thank you to everyone," gushed the 60-year-old veteran character actor, who thanked his wife and "above average" children for their support, and had a piece of advice for the audience.
"If I may, call your mom," said Simmons. "Call your dad. And tell them how much you love them. Don't text or email. Call them."
Simmons, who accepted the award from Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o, prevailed over Robert Duvall, Ethan Hawke, Edward Norton and Mark Ruffalo in the category.
Patricia Arquette also picked up the first Academy Award of her lengthy career for supporting actress in Richard Linklater's experimental coming-of-age story Boyhood. Arquette, who plays the mother of Ellar Coltrane's Mason in the sweeping family drama, used her speech to to call for an end to the wage gap for women.
"To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen in this nation: We have fought for everybody else's equal rights. It's our time to have wage equality in the U.S.," proclaimed the 46-year-old actress, eliciting a burst of rapturous applause from the crowd.
Arquette, who also won the Golden Globe in the same category, beat out Laura Dern, Keira Knightley, Emma Stone and Meryl Streep, who has been nominated for an Academy Award a record 19 times.
Other winners include:
- Foreign language film: Ida.
- Sound editing: American Sniper.
- Documentary (short subject): Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1.
- Live action short film: The Phone Call.
- Visual effects: Interstellar.
- Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki for Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).
- Film editing: Tom Cross for Whiplash.
- Documentary feature: CitizenFour.
- Original song: Glory from Selma.
- Original score: Alexandre Desplat for The Grand Budapest Hotel.
- Original screenplay: Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) - Written by Alejandro G. Inarritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo.
- Adapted screenplay: Graham Moore for The Imitation Game.
Canadian director Chris Williams won the Oscar for best animated feature for Big Hero 6.
The Kitchener, Ont.-bred animator collected the trophy along with co-director Don Hall and producer Roy Conli.
It was the second Oscar nomination for Williams, who also earned a nod for his directorial debut on the 2008 film Bolt.
Williams faced competition from two other Canucks: Dean DeBlois, the director of the boy-and-his-dragon sequel How to Train Your Dragon 2, and Graham Annable, co-director of the intricate stop motion film The Boxtrolls.
All three studied at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ont., but did not cross paths until later in their careers.
Williams says he met DeBlois roughly 20 years ago when both worked at Disney, and they became fast friends.
Canadian sound mixer Craig Mann won for his work on Whiplash. The 38-year-old claimed the sound mixing Academy Award along with co-nominees Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley. Mann was born in Oakville, Ont., and raised in the Toronto-area cities of Pickering and Burlington.
Canadian hopes were dashed in the animated short film category, with Torill Kove's Me and My Moulton losing out to Feast by Americans Patrick Osborne and Kristina Reed.
While the Academy overlooked the movie itself, the crowd seemed to enjoy the colourful and crazy set, which included an army of dancers handing out Lego Oscar statuettes to stars in their seats, including Oprah Winfrey, Channing Tatum and Steve Carell.
Bonus points went to Will Arnett who performed Batman’s parts in the costume Val Kilmer wore in Batman Forever.
The show took a sober tone when country superstar Tim McGraw paid tribute to ailing Oscar-nominee Glen Campbell, by performing his nominated song, I'm Not Gonna Miss You. Campbell, who is 78, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2011. His family selected McGraw to fill in for him because he wasn't well enough to travel to the awards show.
Pop-art princess, Lady Gaga, won heart-felt accolades from Julie Andrews after the Bad Romance singer paid tribute to the 50th anniversary of The Sound of Music with a medley of songs from the movie-musical.
A little Glory for Selma
Tears streamed down the face of actor David Oyelowo, who played the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma and was famously left out of the best actor nominees, during the rousing performance of the song Glory from the film.
Immediately afterward, Common and Legend accepted the best song Oscar with a speech that drew a standing ovation.
"We say that Selma is now because the struggle for justice is right now," said Legend. He noted that the Voting Rights Act, whose passage is chronicled in Selma, has been drastically scaled down in recent years.
Started with a squishy red carpet
Things got off to a soggy start Sunday afternoon with a sudden downpour sending teams of bucket and broomstick-carrying crew members rushing out to save the red carpet. A lingering drizzle continued to threaten the well-heeled crowds as the stars arrived for the throngs of international reporters.
"This is entirely my fault. … Sorry," Redmayne joked of bringing the rainy weather from his native England.
Clear plastic tents shielded fans and the carpet itself from alternating moments of stormy weather and bright sun.
Pink towels were handed out to wet arrivals.
A family affair
Hollywood veteran Melanie Griffith walked the red carpet with her daughter, Fifty Shades of Grey star Dokota Johnson.
Griffith, who shot to fame in the 1980s with sexy roles in such films as Working Girl and Body Double, admitted she's not ready to see her 25-year-old daughter's racy new movie.
"She's such a good actress, I don't need to see it," Griffith said, as Johnson appeared annoyed with her mother's modesty.
As the curtain closed on the awards show for another year, so began another night-into-morning of celebrating for the big winners.
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Recap the evening as it went down on our live blog, and don't forget to join CBC News when we unpack, rehash and review everything that happened at the 2015 Academy Awards during our morning-after live chat with Eli Glasner on Monday at noon ET.
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