After a long day of hurry-up-and-wait, and navigating the rabbit warren insides of the Hollywood and Highland Center on Oscar Sunday, I was set up in the interview room backstage. Though able to catch bits and bobs of the telecast, I mostly listened to winners as they sailed through the press area, feverishly transcribing as best I could with a paltry internet connection and a lot, a lot of coffee.
Oh, and just so you know, there was no photography of any kind backstage, though some press folks took guerrilla measures to snap a selfie or two (myself not included).
Best Actress winner Julianne Moore, when asked by a plucky journalist if “fate played a role” in finally winning an Oscar, her fifth nomination, for a film that meant so much to her: “I believe in hard work, actually. I like real stories, about real people.”
Best Documentary winner Laura Poitras got intense in the press room, wearing dominatrix-style midnight black gloves and a piquant poker face. “I don’t talk about works in progress. Ever,” she firmly told a journalist who asked what’s next for the muckraking filmmaker. She did say “I feel kinship with a lot of the films nominated. ‘Boyhood,’ ‘Birdman,’ those are really artist-driven films.”
As Common and John Legend talked about their Best Original Song winner, “Glory” from “Selma,” backstage, Julianne Moore was winning Best Actress on the telecast. “Who just won? Julianne Moore? Oh, yeah, I knew she was gonna win that,” cracked Common.
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Emmanuel Lubezki became only the fourth consecutive Cinematography winner ever. He’s the first since 1995-96 with John Toll for “Legends of the Fall” and “Braveheart.” “Birdman” cleaned up with four wins, while sweeping the tech kudos was Wes Anderson’s much beloved, though Screenplay-snubbed, “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” “An Oscar is the ultimate award that a filmmaker can dream of so I guess that says it all,” said Best Original Score winner Alexandre Desplat in French patois to laughs in the interview room.
After the heart-on-sleeve bombast of host Neil Patrick Harris‘ winsome opening song-and-dance number, JK Simmons, hot off yesterday’s Spirit Awards win, naturally took off with another Best Supporting Actor trophy. Later, Patricia Arquette won Best Supporting Actress. Duh. “It’s our time to have equal rights for women in the United States of America,” urged Arquette, who seized the hot chance to deliver a a politically charged missive with her impassioned speech.
When asked her thoughts on Meryl Streep’s outsize reaction, Arquette said “She’s the queen of all actresses, the patron saint of actresses. But it is time for women.” As expected, Arquette unpacked her acceptance speech backstage: “Equal means equal. The older women get, the less money they make. The highest percentage of children living in poverty are female-headed households. It’s inexcusable that we go around the world and talk about equal rights for women in other countries and we don’t… We don’t have equal rights for women because when they wrote the Constitution, they didn’t intend it for women.”
Finally Arquette said “It’s time for all the women in America and all the men who love women and all the gay people and people of color to fight for us now.”
“Until we pass a Constitutional amendment in the United States of America, and we pass the ERA once and for all, we won’t have anything changed. This morning there’s those things, the Mani-Cam, what’re you wearing? I’m wearing a dress my best friend designed… Instead of getting a manicure this morning for that dreaded Mani-Cam I was pulling pictures… for [my] charity… This is who I am.” She concluded: “I will help millions of people.”
“This is the cherry on top of this extraordinary experience that ‘Whiplash’ has been for me,” Simmons told the press backstage after officially capping his awards season sweep. “I never go up there scripted. I said most of what I wanted to say,” he added about his speech. After an earnest, heartfelt thanks to his family, imploring audiences to “call your mother,” what’s his creative mantra? “If you are in any kind of artistic creative endeavor and you feel there is something else you should do and be happy, you should do something else because you’re much more likely to find comfort and happiness. If you can look deeply within yourself and answer honestly that nothing else will bring you satisfaction, there’s your answer.”
“Ida” won Best Foreign Language Film. But of course! Director Pawel Pawlikowski gave a long but amusing speech while marveling at how a contemplative black-and-white drama brought him all the way here. “We made a black and white film about the need for silence and withdrawal from the world and contemplation. And here we are at this epicenter of noise and world attention.”
Backstage, when asked how he feels about being Poland’s first Foreign Language Film win, said “It’s really fantastic. We have a great tradition of films but no Oscars so this feels really great. I hope it encourages the world to look at Polish cinema again and other filmmakers to take risks and do something that’s a bit original and brave. I hope this is encouragement,” motioning his statuette. “For the film is about different versions of Polishness. But it’s about all sorts of things. Faith, identity, sense of guilt, Stalinism too, lost ideals, and it’s about jazz and rock ‘n’ roll. I didn’t want to make a film for one reason.”
Best Supporting Actor: JK Simmons, “Whiplash”
Best Costume Design: “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” Milena Canonero
Best Makeup: “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier
Best Foreign Language Film: “Ida” – Pawel Pawlikowski, Poland
Best Live Action Short: “The Phone Call,” Mat Kirkby and James Lucas
Best Documentary Short: “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1,” Ellen Goosenberg Kent and Dana Perry
Best Sound Mixing: “Whiplash,” Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley
Best Sound Editing: “American Sniper,” Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman
Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”
Best Visual Effects: “Interstellar,” Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher
Best Animated Short: “Feast,” Patrick Osborne and Kristina Reed
Best Animated Feature: “Big Hero 6,” Don Hall, Chris Williams and Roy Conli
Best Production Design: “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” Adam Stockhausen (Production Design); Anna Pinnock (Set Decoration)
Best Cinematography: “Birdman,” Emmanuel Lubezki
Best Editing: “Whiplash,” Tom Cross
Best Documentary Feature: “CITIZENFOUR,” Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy and Dirk Wilutzky
Best Score: “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” Alexandre Desplat
Best Original Screenplay: “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Written by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo
Best Adapted Screenplay: “The Imitation Game,” Graham Moore
Best Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu, “Birdman”
Best Actor: Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”
Best Actress: Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”
Best Picture: “Birdman,” Alejandro G. Iñárritu, John Lesher and James W. Skotchdopole
Ryan Lattanzio is a staff writer for TOH at Indiewire. Follow him on Twitter @ryanlattanzio.