So…THAT Was Weird!

Thoughts on the 2015 Oscars ceremony.

I’m not going to mince words: That was one bizarre Oscar ceremony. That fact that the above picture of Neil Patrick Harris (he was doing a Birdman parody) doesn’t even rank as one of the weirdest moments of the night is really all you need to know.

So before I get to some of the highlights, let’s talk about the relentless weirdness that was last night’s show, using my trusty new weirdness scale: 1 to 5 Terrence Howards.

Melanie Griffith and Dakota Johnson’s Mother-Daughter Spat

These two set the tone for the evening on the red carpet when ABC’s Lara Spencer asked Melanie if she had seen her daughter’s racy new film, Fifty Shades of Grey.

“I don’t need to see it,” Melanie said.
“Maybe one day,” Dakota replied.
“I think it would be strange,” Melanie pointed out.
“I think one day you can see it,” Dakota said.
“She’s a really good actress,” Melanie told Spencer diplomatically. “I don’t need to see that to know.”
“Alright! You don’t have to see it,” Dakota said, practically stomping her foot. And for a brief moment, all the world was afraid that she was about to be grounded.

Weirdness Factor: 2 Terrence Howards

Neil Patrick Harris’s Opening Song

“Moving Pictures” was a ill-advised mixture of corny, earnest, and occasionally cheeky, that—much like the entire broadcast—never found its rhythm. Anna Kendrick came out in her Cinderella costume, fueling my theory that she is basically the Anne Hathaway everyone likes; in an unfair cut, Benedict Cumberbatch was forced to be the face of Oscar’s whiteness problem; and Clint Eastwood clearly didn’t know who Kanye was. Jack Black burst onto stage and added a bit of much-needed energy toward the end of the song (and made me suddenly really want to see him on Broadway), but by then it was too late—the number was a certifiable dud.

Weirdness factor: 3 Terrence Howards

Neil Patrick Harris’s lock-box Joke

Here’s the thing: Everyone in the theater knew Neil’s opening number was a non-starter, including Neil. From that point, he seemed a little tense—his normally winning quips had a distinct edge. And then, to make matters worse, his “I wrote all my Oscar predictions and placed them in a locked box” shtick was also DOA, especially since Octavia Spencer—assigned by Harris to be the guardian of the box—didn’t seem especially keen to play along. A joke bombs, you move on to the next one, right? Except this was a running gag that Neil was forced to revisit over and over again throughout the night. By the time the punchline came—Neil hadn’t been predicting winners, but specific moments from the ceremony—it was too late to be salvaged. (It didn’t help that when jokingly mocking his own mispronunciation of Chiwetel Ejiofor’s name he …mispronounced Chiwetel Ejiofor’s name.) All in all, this was not Neil’s night.

Weirdness factor: 2 Terrence Howards

The Oscar Orchestra Kept Trying to Play People Off the Stage

Everyone knows the rules: You pick up your award, do your spiel, and when the music starts playing, it’s time to skedaddle. Except last night, Ida director Pawel Pawlikowski, charmingly, refused to be played off. Then he mentioned his late wife and parents and the orchestra was shamed into silence. A version of this awkward scenario played out two more times during the show. Dana Perry, co-director of winning short documentary Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1, was getting played off just as she mentioned her son, who had committed suicide. That shut up the orchestra real fast. By the time Imitation Game writer Graham Moore shared the fact that, as a young man, he had tried to commit suicide, the orchestra knew better than to try to interrupt.

Weirdness factor: 3 Terrence Howards

Joan Rivers Was Left Out of the In Memoriam Segment

Not so much weird as just seriously lame.

Lady Gaga Does a Sound of Music Tribute

Here’s the thing, Lady Gaga is a very talented woman, even if it’s literally impossible to get a handle on her as a singer: Is she a pop star? A performance artist? A jazz siren? A Broadway belter? But by 11:15 p.m., we were all pretty much ready for the show to be over. Instead, Lady Gaga came out with an utterly unnecessary Sound of Music medley. Yes, she sang it well—and Julie Andrews, who glided onto stage at the end, seemed genuinely moved/impressed—but it all would’ve worked so much better at 9:30.

Weirdness factor: 2 Terrence Howards

Terrence Howard Introduces Two of the Best Film Nominees

This was the ne plus ultra of weirdness. The plan to introduce the Best Picture nominees in pairs was, indeed, a time saver (imagine how long the ceremony would’ve been if they hadn’t done that) but it made for some strange bedfellows: The Grand Budapest Hotel and American Sniper, anyone? Terrence Howard, on a roll right now with his delicious primetime soap opera, Empire, came out to introduce Whiplash and Imitation Game and it was just . . . well . . . I’m not totally sure. He hesitated, looked lost, teared up, talked about how emotional he was—although it wasn’t clear which film made him so emotional—looked helplessly at the audience for assistance (which never came) and finally skulked off the stage. Theories were abound: His teleprompter broke? He was drunk? He actually was deeply moved by, er, something? Either way, it was definitely weird, earning our highest distinction of 5 Terrence Howards.

Weirdness factor: 5 Terrence Howards

Okay, enough of that.

A few thoughts on the winners.

I was happy to see both The Grand Budapest Hotel (four awards) and Whiplash (three awards) honored so much, but it made me a little sad that The Grand Budapest Hotel, in particular, was never considered a real contender for Best Picture. Let me get this straight: You love the makeup, costume design, production design, and score of Wes Anderson’s impeccably crafted and singularly realized cinematic world, but the film itself was never in contention? Huh.

I was on #TeamBirdman, so I was happy to see it win Best Picture. However, I had really been hoping for a little more love for the wonderful Boyhood. I never bought into Boyhood as a true “Oscar film” (I go into great detail about that here), but it was such an incredible achievement that one award (Best Supporting Actress to Patricia Arquette) seemed criminally insufficient.

Now for some highlights!

This dress.

Also, this dress.

This one, too.

This tux. (Because go big or go home, right?)

Common and John Legend’s wonderfully stirring performance of Glory from Selma . . .

Which led to Oprah comforting a visibly moved David Oyelowo and this perfectly distilled man tear from Chris Pine.

Julianne Moore finally (!) won a long overdue Oscar for her brilliant work in Still Alice. Hooray!

Hollywood survivor Patricia Arquette won her deserved award for Boyhood and gave a really important speech about equal pay for women that got “who-knew?” BFFs Meryl Streep and J.Lo up and out of their seats cheering.

Orchestra shenanigans notwithstanding, it was very brave/wonderful of The Imitation Game writer Graham Moore to discuss his own suicide attempt.

Everyone got really cute Lego Oscars (and I want one NOW).

And, after more than three-and-a-half hours, the show finally ended.

Photos and GIFs courtesy of Buzzfeed,, The New York Times, and Just Jared.