HOLLYWOOD—The pinnacle of awards season came to an end on Sunday, February 22 as the 87th Annual Academy Awards were held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. Leading the pack of all nominees were the films “Birdman” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” with nine nominations apiece. Both films walked away with four awards apiece.

The winner for Best Picture was presented by Sean Penn to “Birdman.”  Not a surprise, but it pretty much left “Boyhood” shut-out at this year’s ceremony.

Another race that was too close to call was Best Actor. Last year’s winner Cate Blanchett presented the prize to Eddie Redmayne for “The Theory of Everything.” He was quite shocked when his name was announced, and giving his speech while on stage. In the Best Actress race, Julianne Moore FINALLY got an Oscar after years of being nominated for her amazing work in “Still Alice.”

One of the decisive races of the night, Best Director was a duel between Richard Linklater “Boyhood” and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu “Birdman.” In the end, Ben Affleck presented the prize to Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.

The ceremony was hosted by one of the best in the business, Neil Patrick Harris (who I’ve advocated to host the ceremony multiple times) did something unorthodox. Not only was his charming to the audience, but viewers, but brought the funny in a way not seen before.

He opened the show with jabs involving diversity, and then jumped into a musical number that involved Benedict Cumberbatch, Clint Eastwood, and paying tribute to famous flicks like “Basic Instinct,” “Good Will Hunting,” and other classics.

Oscar nominee Anna Kendrick joined Harris on stage for a musical number that was interrupted by Jack Black. Black’s interruption was quite funny to say the least. The laughter will started when the music ended. He announced his theories about his Oscar predictions being under lock and key. He even took to the stage standing in nothing, but his undies. Very risky, daring and a bold move for an Oscar host, that got lots of cheers from the audience.

Lady Gaga brought down the house with her tribute to "The Sound of Music."
Lady Gaga brought down the house with her tribute to “The Sound of Music.”

The first award of the night for Best Supporting Actor was presented to J.K. Simmons for his riveting performance in the movie “Whiplash.” “Thank you to the Academy. Thank you to everyone involved in the making of “Whiplash,” stated Simmons while on stage. The fact that he gave a shot out to the importance of parents was great.

In the Best Supporting Actress race Patricia Arquette was crowned victor for her moving role in the drama “Boyhood.” That reading off a piece of paper was a trend for Arquette, but she made a resonating speech about wage and equal rights for women in American that received a thunderous applause from the crowd.

Best Original Screenplay was awarded to Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Armando Bo, Alexander Dinelaris Jr. and Nicolas Giacobone for “Birdman.” A bit of a shocker, as many were suspecting that Wes Anderson might take that prize for “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” Queen Oprah presented the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay to a Graham Moore for “The Imitation Game.”

Another shocker as many expected Damien Chazelle for “Whiplash” to take home the prize. Moore’s speech was triumphant, as he admitted that he attempted to commit suicide when he was a teenager, telling people to honor their originality.

The speeches at this year’s Oscar ceremony, are just full of phenomenal moments and heart tuggers; such inspiration!

For Costume Design and Makeup and Hairstyling, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” took home both awards. The Oscar for Best Foreign Film went to “Ida.” Teegan and Sara performed the inescapable hit “Everything is Awesome” from “The Lego Movie.” When you think about it, the song is quite annoying, but so catchy you love it. “The Phone Call” took home the Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film. “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press I” won the Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject.

Awards for Sound Mixing and Sound Editing went to “Whiplash” and “American Sniper” respectively. The Oscar for Achievement in Visual Effects was given to “Interstellar.” Meryl Streep took the podium to pay tribute to those who were lost this past year. There were many musical acts during the ceremony, but Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson stole the show belting out vocals that sent chills down the spine.

“Feast” won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short, while Best Animated Film was a victory for “Big Hero 6.” Many thought this would be a prize for “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” but “Big Hero 6” had a bit more heart and tackled a difficult subject matter. The Oscar for Achievement in Production Design went to “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” The Oscar for Cinematography went to “Birdman,” while the trophy for Editing went to “Whiplash.” In the Best Documentary Feature race the Oscar went to “Citizenfour.”

Another riveting performance of the night was held by Common and John Legend who sang their hit “Glory” from the movie “Selma.” I would argue the stage presence alone was powerful and received a resounding standing ovation for those in the audience. That performance left many in the audience in tears including Chris Pine and David Oyelowo. Wow is just one word that can be best used to describe that moving performance!

John Travolta got a chance to redo the flub of Idina Menzel’s name from last year’s Oscar debacle as he joined her on stage. The Oscar for Best Original Song went to “Glory.” Common’s acceptance speech was indeed poised, graceful and riveting. Music was big at the 2015 Academy Awards as Lady Gaga also tore down the house, singing classic music from “The Sound of Music,” just as Julie Andrews took to the stage to present the award for Best Original Score to “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”

I must say while many of the big winners of the night weren’t amazing surprises, but this was seriously one of the most entertaining Oscar ceremonies in a very long time. Lots of amazing, heartfelt speeches, and moments that many people will talk about for years to come; I can’t wait till the 2016 Academy Awards