Redmayne won over the six thousand strong Academy voters for his portrayal, in The Theory of Everything, of the scientist Professor Stephen Hawking, who’s been suffering from Motor Neurone Disease – or ALS – since his post-graduate days, more than fifty years ago. “This Oscar belongs to all of those people around the world battling ALS,” beamed the actor, who participated in last year’s ALS Ice-Bucket Challenge. “We have a new fellow to share our apartment,” he joked to his wife.
The rest of the acting Oscars went according to the predictions, sticking to the pattern laid out since the Golden Globes last month, with Julianne Moore being named the Best Actress for Still Alice, JK Simmons winning Best Supporting Actor for Whiplash and the Best Supporting Actress statuette going to Patricia Arquette, for Boyhood. She used her acceptance speech to call for equal rights and equal pay for women.
This was the only award of the night for her much-heralded film; Boyhood lost out in the Best Film and Best Director category to Alejandro González Iñárritu’s showbiz satire, Birdman, which also picked up awards for original screenplay and cinematography; its director of photography, Emanuel Lubezki – who won the same award last year for Gravity.
With the Second World War and gay rights being popular subjects among Academy voters, it was perhaps a surprise to see that The Imitation Game took just took just one of the eight categories in which it was nominated; Graham Moore, who adapted the screenplay, told the audience that as a teenager, he had thought about killing himself, as his gay protagonist Alan Turing had done. He urged young people who didn’t fit in to “Stay weird, stay different.”
Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel went into the night with the same number of nominations – nine – as Birdman – and it left with the same number – 4 – but all in the technical categories – Score, Costume, Production Design and Hair & Make-up – the last two being for British talent.
Other British winners included the Visual Effects team behind Interstellar, the Sound Mixers of Whiplash and the makers of the live action short film The Phone Call, Mat Kirkby and James Lucas.
The head of the BFI, Amanda Nevill, said she was thrilled by the British success, particularly those she described as the “unsung heroes creating magic behind the camera.”
It was a year when there was a fairly even spread of the awards in the main categories. Unusually, every one of the eight Best Picture nominees took home at least one statuette. There was much discussion when the nominations were announced that the Martin Luther King story Selma had been overlooked in most of the main categories, but its original song, Glory, by Common and John Legend, won what could be seen as a consolation prize. But the pair received a standing ovation and brought tears to the eyes of the film’s star David Oyelowo, when they sang the song and they used their acceptance speech to highlight the fact that fifty years on from the events depicted in the film, the fight for equality is still going on.
In the specialist categories, Poland’s Ida was the Best Foreign Language film, CitizenFour, about the American intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, was the Best Documentary and Big Hero 6 won the Oscar for the Best Animated Feature.
Politics often features in Oscar acceptance speeches, but rarely in so many at the same ceremony. From the call for better rights for woman and black people to Graham Moore’s advice to young people on the verge of suicide to Iñárritu’s appeal for the better treatment of Mexican immigrants – in a year when the combined box office takings of the nominated films was at the lowest that it’s been for years, 2015 could be a year when the speeches are more memorable than the films.
The full list of winners:
Best Motion Picture of the Year
Birdman (2014): Alejandro González Iñárritu, John Lesher, James W. Skotchdopole
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything (2014)
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Julianne Moore for Still Alice (2014)
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
J.K. Simmons for Whiplash (2014)
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Patricia Arquette for Boyhood (2014/I)
Best Achievement in Directing
Alejandro González Iñárritu for Birdman (2014)
Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
Birdman (2014): Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo
Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
The Imitation Game (2014): Graham Moore
Best Animated Feature Film of the Year
Big Hero 6 (2014)
Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
Ida (2013): Pawel Pawlikowski
Best Achievement in Cinematography
Birdman (2014): Emmanuel Lubezki
Best Achievement in Editing
Whiplash (2014): Tom Cross
Best Achievement in Production Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014): Adam Stockhausen, Anna Pinnock
Best Achievement in Costume Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014): Milena Canonero
Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014): Frances Hannon, Mark Coulier
Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014): Alexandre Desplat
Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song
Selma (2014): Common, John Legend(Glory)
Best Achievement in Sound Mixing
Whiplash (2014): Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins, Thomas Curley
Best Achievement in Sound Editing
American Sniper (2014): Alan Robert Murray, Bub Asman
Best Achievement in Visual Effects
Interstellar (2014): Paul J. Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter, Scott R. Fisher
Best Documentary, Feature
Citizenfour (2014): Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy, Dirk Wilutzky
Best Documentary, Short Subject
Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 (2013): Ellen Goosenberg Kent, Dana Perry
Best Short Film, Animated
Feast (2014/I): Patrick Osborne, Kristina Reed
Best Short Film, Live Action
The Phone Call (2013): Mat Kirkby, James Lucas