A memorable 87th annual Academy Awards for Fox Searchlight saw Birdman claim best film, director and two other statuettes to tie with The Grand Budapest Hotel’s four-strong haul.
Boyhood, which entered the evening on six nominations and had been expected to push Birdman in several of the senior categories on Sunday night, won a sole best supporting actress award for Patricia Arquette.
The film’s time in the Oscar ceremony spotlight will not be forgotten, however, as Arquette paid tribute to her “Boyhood family” and made an impassioned plea for wage equality that spread like wildfire across social media.
Eddie Redmayne from The Theory Of Everything prevailed in a tight best actor contest to deny Michael Keaton another success for Birdman. The popular victory had the British actor jumping with excitement on stage at the Dolby Theatre.
Julianne Moore finally converted her fifth Academy Award nomination into a win for her performance in Still Alice in what had been regarded as one of the most predictable categories of the night.
Birdman, which started the night tied with The Grand Budapest Hotel on nine nominations, began slowly but emphatically as Emmanuel Lubezki claimed the cinematography prize one year after his triumph for Gravity.
As the ceremony went on there was the sense that Birdman was gathering steam as the show moved up the awards seniority ladder. Next up was best original screenplay for Alejandro G Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris Jr and Armando Bo.
A short while later Iñárritu returned to the stage to follow up his recent DGA triumph with the best directing Oscar before Sean Penn capped a superb night for the film when he declared Birdman best picture winner.
Grand Budapest wins four
The Grand Budapest Hotel began the night with wins for costume designer Milena Canonero – the fourth of her career – and make-up and hairstyling aces Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier.
By the end of the show Wes Anderson’s beloved film had added Oscars for Alexandre Desplat’s score and production design by Adam Stockhausen and Anna Pinnock.
Fox Searchlight victory
With Birdman, distributor Fox Searchlight took home the best film Oscar for the second consecutive year, following 12 Years a Slave in 2014.
Fox Searchlight is also the distributor of The Grand Budapest Hotel, meaning it secured a total of eight Academy Awards, putting it comfortably ahead of its rivals.
Whiplash ended the night with a glorious haul of three Oscars. Damien Chazelle’s widely admired drama kicked off with the first award of the night as JK Simmons, as expected, took the best supporting actor prize.
The Bold Films drama, released in the US via Sony Pictures Classics, also claimed awards for best editing for Tom Cross and best sound mixing for the team of Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley.
Ida prevailed in the foreign language film category despite a strong campaign by Russia’s Leviathan. Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski charmed the audience with a wry observation of how he set out to make a film about silence and contemplation only for his film to find itself at the epicentre of noise and attention.
The Imitation Game earned its sole Oscar of the night for Graham Moore’s adapted screenplay.
Big Hero 6 trumped How To Train Your Dragon 2 in the animation category.
Citizenfour emerged victorious in the documentary contest in another win that had been widely predicted.
Interstellar and American Sniper each earned a single award for visual effects and sound effects, respectively.
Selma scores solitary Oscar
Selma, whose omisson in the director and lead actor categories had sparked considerable outrage and fuelled a campaign again what some had labelled as an overly “white” Oscars, also picked up a solitary Oscar for best song, Glory.
John Legends’ performance of the song and his subsequent acceptance speech with Common produced one of the highlights of the night and drew a standing ovation.
This had been preceeded by another show-stopping musical sequence in which Lady Gaga performed a medley of songs from The Sound Of Music to mark the film’s 50th anniversary year. Immediately after this, Julie Andrews took to the stage to announce the best song winner.
No Memoriam for Joan Rivers
The traditional In Memoriam tribute section in honour of recently departed Hollywood talent from in front of and behind the screen left out Joan Rivers and documentarian Bruce Sinofsky, although the latter died only one day before the ceremony.
Neil Patrick Harris MC’d the awards show for the first time.