Stick with the songs, dances and funny outfits, NPH. In a long, drawn-out gag, Harris has his Oscar predictions locked in a clear box on stage and instructs Oscar winner Octavia Spencer to keep an eye on it. Just before the Best Picture winner is announced, he unlocks the box with much fanfare and then reads from his predictions, which ends up being a rehash of the quirkiest highlights of the evening (such as when a Birdman screenwriter thanks his dog Larry). Despite the timely sleight-of-hand involved to carry off the bit, the joke falls terribly flat.
Perhaps making his own play for an Oscar, Terrence Howard gives an emotional, borderline awkward introduction to the Best Picture nominees Whiplash, The Imitation Game and Selma. The Empire star begins his speech by going full Lucious Lyon on us while introducing Whiplash, then nearly breaks down before summarizing The Imitation Game and Selma. As she did at the Empire Records' IPO party, maybe Cookie should have given this speech.
Twelve years of commitment can't trump Hollywood narcissism, it seems. Accepting his award for Best Director, Birdman helmer Alejandro Inarritu makes note of the fact that he's wearing Michael Keaton's actual underwear from the film and adds, "They are tight, smells like balls." Though his speech is somewhat rambling, Inarritu's reference to ego and how it drives competitiveness is a nod to both his movie's theme and awards season race with Boyhood's Richard Linklater.
Diane Warren does it again, penning yet another song designed to swell hearts at just the right moment. And while Rita Ora's performance of "Grateful" from Beyond the Lights predictably reaches the right crescendo, it feels derivative. Call us ungrateful, but this feels like manipulation-by-numbers. Meh.
We all knew that John Travolta's notorious mispronunciation of Idina Menzel's name at last year's ceremony (you'll always be with us, Adele Dazeem) couldn't go without notice at the 2015 awards. The most winning reference came courtesy of Neil Patrick Harris, who introduced Benedict Cumberbatch as "It's also the sound you get when you ask John Travolta to pronounce Ben Affleck." Touche, Neil. Later, the perpetrator himself appeared on stage. Travolta proved to be an excellent sport about the whole affair while presenting Best Song alongside Menzel, who took a jab by fake-mispronouncing his name.
Tim McGraw does justice to Glen Campbell's "I'm Not Gonna Miss You," Campbell's original song from the documentary about succumbing to Alzheimer's. The arrangement and performance keeps the song simple, which allows the lyrics about losing identity and memory feel all the more poignant.
In J.K. Simmons' acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actor for Whiplash, he eschews the usual laundry list of industry people and instead focuses on praising his wife several times, directly addressing his "above-average children" and then encourages everyone to call their parents. "Thank them and listen to them as long as they want to talk to you. Thank you, Mom and Dad!" Consider all hearts warmed.
Director Pawel Pawlikowski wins for Best Foreign Language Film for Ida, and in his thank-you his enthusiasm knows no bounds, literally. Even when the play-off music starts up, he continues to deliver his charming and winning speech with such conviction and glee -- telling his Polish friends to take a drink -- that the music ceases in order to let him have his moment. Only when he closes the speech does the music start up again.
Despite the prevalence of today's "It gets better" and "No H8" campaigns, the message for acceptance came too late for some, in particular The Imitation Game hero Alan Turing. Graham Moore, who wins for Best Adapted Screenplay for the film, takes his time on stage to lament how Turing never got his due and then reveals that he himself tried to kill himself as a teen for feeling "weird and different." He then encourages all kids out there who feel like they don't belong to "Stay weird, stay different."
Adam Levine takes to the stage to warble out "Lost Stars" from the musical film Begin Again. Surrounded by lights twinkling -- like stars, get it? -- The Voice coach delivers a sweet performance that shows why this song is one of the stand-outs for this underrated film.
Although director Alejandro Inarritu declares he's the worst English-speaking guy and shouldn't make the thank-you speech for Birdman, he uses his time on stage very well. Besides allowing his "maestro of maestros" Michael Keaton to say a few words (since he lost Best Actor to Eddie Redmayne earlier), Inarritu gives a shout-out to fellow Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro and references how the last year's Best Directing winner Alfonso Cuaron is also Mexican. "They need to change the immigration rules," he jokes. He wraps up the speech by dedicating the award to his fellow Mexicans who helped to "build this incredible immigrant nation."
Tegan and Sara teamed up with The Lonely Island for an exuberant performance of "Everything Is Awesome," their ubiquitous earworm of a single from The Lego Movie. The perfect pick-me-up after a slog of awards including Best Makeup and Best Foreign Language Film, the performance featured ?uestlove on drums and Oprah holding an Oscar statuette made of Legos in the audience. Since the movie was snubbed for a Best Animated Feature nod, this was a fitting, entertaining representation.
In what may seem an upset win (sorry, Michael Keaton!), Eddie Redmayne takes home the Best Actor Oscar for his turn in The Theory of Everything, about Prof. Stephen Hawking and the onset of his ALS. Fully freaking out, Redmayne jumps up and down a few times, clutches the Oscar with both hands repeatedly and even squeals. He symbolically shares the award with all the people around the world with ALS, jumps up and down again and then tells his wife, "We have a new fella coming to share our apartment."
Neil Patrick Harris pleases the crowd with a song-and-dance number, "Moving Pictures," that reads as a love letter to films. Starting with a traditional hoofer silhouette that morphs into Gene Kelly's swing from a lamppost from Singin' in the Rain, Harris honors the Golden Age of Hollywood with mentions of Chaplin and Monroe before he's spliced into iconic scenes from such films as The Wizard of Oz, Risky Business and Star Wars. The on-stage drama ramps up when he's joined by Anna Kendrick as a singing Cinderella before they're rudely interrupted by Jack Black, taking on the persona of someone jaded by formulaic movie-making. The whole performance wraps up with dancers -- dressed as mobsters, sailor-suited tap dancers and Stormtroopers -- lining up behind Harris, who then becomes a living Oscar in silhouette. Bravo!
She's great in Still Alice, but let's be honest: Julianne Moore is really winning for Far From Heaven, The Hours, and every other performance she's given that has gone unnoticed by the Academy up until now. A tearful Moore makes a plea for a cure for Alzheimer's in her acceptance speech, and is also ever-gracious, saying, "There's no such thing as Best Actress." Well, there is this year, Julianne - and you're finally it.
From Meryl Streep's deft yet moving introduction speech to Jennifer Hudson's powerful rendition of "Can't Let Go," the Oscars In Memoriam tribute is beautiful. But it's the bulk of the slideshow, in which the dearly departed are depicted with gorgeous but unassuming illustrations, that has the most impact. From silver-screen greats such as Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall to behind-the-scenes geniuses like Mike Nichols and H.R. Giger (with one of his illustrated aliens no less), the quality of the images reflects the artistry of those we lost.
Accompanied by a chorus of singers standing in for the marchers on the bridge Martin Luther King, Jr.'s followers crossed in the historic march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., John Legend and Common perform the song "Glory" to a standing ovation. It's fitting when minutes later, the pair win for Best Original Song. In Common's thank-you speech, he notes, "This bridge was built on hope, welded by compassion and elevated by compassion for all human beings." Legend adds, "The struggle for justice is right now." At an Oscars that many feel snubbed Selma, the win and the crowd's reaction (David Oyelowo can't keep the tears from his eyes) demonstrate that King's message still resonates today.
In what was perhaps the most predictable award of the night, modern-day treasure Patricia Arquette takes home the award for Best Supporting Actress. Will this be the only award of the night for Boyhood, or an indicator for results to come? It remains to be seen - but in the meantime, Arquette uses her succinct speech to advocate for equal pay for women, drawing simultaneous fist pumps from seatmates Jennifer Lopez and Meryl Streep. CSI: Cyber, get those "Starring Oscar winner Patricia Arquette!" promos ready!
Lady Gaga shocks everybody once again, but this time it isn't with over-the-top antics or frightening costuming. In a tribute to The Sound of Music's 50th anniversary, the "Bad Romance" singer sings a medley of the musical's best songs, from the title track and "My Favorite Things" to "Edelweiss" and "Climb Every Mountain." With minimal makeup and a fairy-princess poufy dress, her appearance is a sweet as her voice, which exhibits a roundness of tone worthy of any Broadway star. Visibly moved, Julie Andrews, the original Maria, hugs Lady Gaga and declares that the tribute warmed her heart.
Neil Patrick Harris proves he's the host with the most, or in this case, the least amount of clothing. In a nod to Birdman, in which Michael Keaton's character gets locked out of his dressing room wearing only underwear, Harris also wades through the fans and photographers -- and makes a fun crossover homage to Whiplash with Miles Teller on the drums -- before ending up on the Oscars stage in all his tighty-whitey-wearing glory, package on display for the world to see.
Make these champagne cupcakes for your Oscar party with this recipe from Chowhound.com.