By nominating just eight films for best picture -- and leaving two spots empty -- the academy missed opportunities to be bold and surprising, Times film critic Betsy Sharkey says.
"Nightcrawler," above, deserved a nomination, she says, and so did three others (maybe four). Check out her picks and rationale.
Since "Birdman" has won the major awards from producers, actors and directors guilds in recent weeks, it looks to be a lock to win the Academy Award for best picture, beating the early-season front-runner, "Boyhood."
You have to go all the way to 1996 to find the last time a film scored the guild hat trick and still lost Oscar best picture. That year, "Apollo 13" notched wins from producers, actors and directors guilds. But when the big day rolled around, it was "Braveheart" that nabbed the top prize.
That example is clearly an anomaly. But it's a potentially instructive anomaly. What virtues did "Braveheart" and its campaign possess or what assets did "Apollo 13" lack that led this to happen?
More to the point, does "Boyhood" have "Braveheart" characteristics or does "Birdman" have "Apollo 13" weaknesses that would enable that outcome to be repeated? Let's break it down.
Los Angeles Times
A parade of stars will be presenting and performing at the Academy Awards. Do you really want to wait to find out who?
Clockwise from top left are Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jessica Chastain, the Lonely Island (Andy Samberg, left, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone) and Zoe Saldana. To see dozens of others, click "Read more," below.
Laughing: "Sorry you had a bucket of water dumped on your head!"
On tonight's race: "You know, I'm having fun," the lead actor nominee, for "Birdman," said. "I'd be lying if I said I didn't look at the other awards," he added, noting Eddie Redmayne's recent Screen Actors Guild Award win in the same category. "But the interesting thing is, it's like a political campaign and you can see how things shift. It's fun."
"Sorry about that," he added as he was pulled off, referring to the wet-haired reporter and the now giant tear in the tent.
Last year's photo at the Academy Awards "worked out so well and it's this horrible dark cloud above my head now. How do you beat the selfie that broke the Internet?" Neil Patrick Harris asked Ellen DeGeneres on Wednesday.
Harris told last year's Oscars host that selfie has been imprinted on his brain, promising: "I'm going to try to do something better."
Will he succeed? Stay tuned.
Don't get carried away thinking Grand Budapest will win best picture. It's going to dominate crafts though.
This Oscar is wonderfully deserved for keeping every hair on Ralph Fiennes' head and mustache immaculate and in place at all times. Utter perfection.
Winning the Oscar is the most amazing honor. He's the one who wrote on the page. We just go with it. He always pushes to the limits and always wants to see something else.
Who gave this son of a bitch his green card?
Fox Searchlight Pictures
“Birdman” won the Oscar for best picture. Directed by Alejandro G. Inarritu and starring Michael Keaton, the film is a darkly comic look at fame and ego. In a very tight race for the top prize, the film beat out other top contenders “Boyhood” and “American Sniper.”
Interview: Inarritu and Keaton discuss three key scenes
Videos: Behind the scenes
"Birdman" for picture.
"Birdman" for director.
"Birdman" for original screenplay.
Alejandro G. Inarritu is going to need a wheelbarrow to cart all his Oscars to the airport tomorrow as he heads back to Canada where he's shooting a revenge western titled "Revenant."
No disrespect to "Birdman," but it would have been nice if these three Oscars had been divvied up between "Birdman," "Boyhood" and "The Grand Budapest Hotel."
But that's just me. "Birdman" diehards, few in number though they may be, are very happy right now. And Inarritu, soulful, poetic, as always, deserves congratulations.