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.
The Oscars' opening number was, as usual, a flowery love letter from Hollywood to itself, with Neil Patrick Harris and Anna Kendrick singing about the magic! of! movies!
But then Jack Black showed up to take everyone down a notch or two.
A proven hard-rock hero with his band Tenacious D, Black should take a real crack at Broadway.
Maybe a revival of "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum"?
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.
"Ida," of Poland, has won best foreign language film.
Alejandro González Iñárritu was lingering in the lobby with his wife, reclining on a table while downing a glass of Champa¿gne. Asked if he was seeking some liquid courage for the upcoming director prize, he shook his head. "I'm fine," he said coolly.
There wasn't much to eat at the bar, save for a few snacks -- some prepackaged trail mix, cookies and Hershey kisses. Solange Knowles, who stood out in a bright red ensemble, tried to hide out in a corner munching on a bag of sesame snacks. ¿"I'm so hungry," she said, mouth full, to her husband Alan Ferguson.
"We forgot to eat," he explained. "We're just trying to fill ourselves so we don't fall out." (AKA get wasted.)
-- Amy Kaufman
...kind of awesome?
I've got no need to listen to the song -- from "The Lego Movie" -- in its recorded form ever again (especially after a recent visit to Legoland).
But that performance was chaotic in a good way, with the advertised presence of the Lonely Island and Tegan and Sara (the latter sporting a surprising goth look) complemented by Questlove and a guy who looked an awful lot like Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo.
More of that kind of madcap energy and this Oscars show might not feel 4 1/2 hours long.
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.
No matter what you think of the Oscars, you probably like the In Memoriam segment. Below are the obituaries of a few of the Hollywood luminaries who died last year. You can look for more in our obituaries database.