The 87th annual Academy Awards bristled with politics and heartfelt speeches about women’s rights, immigration, suicide prevention, governmental surveillance and race.
All the nominees for this year were white.
Birdman, a jazzy, surreal comedy about an actor fleeing his superhero past took Hollywood’s top honor in a ceremony punctuated by passionate pleas for equality.
Birdman also won best director for Mexican filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, best original screenplay and best cinematography.
“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.” Inarritu, a larger-than-life figure of frizzy hair, regularly wrapped in a scarf, concluded the night’s many moving speeches that called for societal progress.
Innaritu said he prays his native country finds “a government we deserve” and that immigrants to the U.S. “can be treated with the same dignity and the respect of the ones who came before and (built) this incredible immigrant nation.”
The awards overwhelmingly went to less-seen independent films and were widely spread around. All eight of the best-picture nominees won awards, including Eddie Redmayne for best actor for his technically nuanced performance as Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything.”
All of Sunday’s big winners were first-timers, including best actress winner Julianne Moore, who won for her performance as an academic with early onset Alzheimer’s in “Still Alice.”
Though Richard Linklater’s 12-years-in-making “Boyhood” was the critical favorite for much of awards season, it won only best supporting actress for Patricia Arquette.
Tears streamed down the face of David Oyelowo, who played the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in “Selma” and was infamously 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 of the period film.
“We know that the voting rights act that they fought for 50 years ago is being compromised right now in this country today. We know that right now the struggle for freedom and justices where we live in the most incarcerated country in the world.”
Edward Snowden documentary “Citizenfour,” in which Laura Poitras captured Snowden in the midst of leaking National Security Agency documents, won best documentary.
“The disclosures that Edward Snowden reveals don’t only expose a threat to our privacy but to our democracy itself,” said Poitras, accepting the Oscar.
“When the most important decisions being made affecting all of us are made in secret, we lose our ability to check the powers that control.”