It was long — really long — coming in around 20 minutes shy of four hours when all was said and done. And host Neil Patrick Harris consistently served up amiability where a sharp wit might have served viewers better. But for the most part, presenters and performers at the 87th Academy Awards avoided the self-aggrandizing tone that has brought the Oscars such well-deserved criticism in recent years.
Throughout the night, Oscar winners used their global platform — estimated to be several hundred million strong — to draw attention to real-world issues about which they mostly seemed passionate, informed and sincere. Patricia Arquette (Best Actress in a Supporting Role winner for Boyhood) called for equal rights and equal pay for women as fellow nominee Meryl Streep cheered her on; Common and John Legend (Best Original Song winners for "Glory," from the film Selma) talked incarceration rates for black males in the U.S.; and J.K Simmons (Best Actor in a Supporting Role winner for Whiplash) admonished everyone to call their parents. Best of all, no one thanked a publicist.
Birdman won for Best Picture, Best Director (Alejandro González Iñárritu), Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography; Eddie Redmayne won Best Actor for portraying Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything; Julianne Moore won Best Actress for Still Alice; Pawel Pawlikowski's Ida won Best Foreign Language Film; and Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel won Oscars for production design, costumes, makeup and score. The full list of winners and nominees can be found here.