"Birdman" won the top prize at the 87th Academy Awards, a night of firsts for many of the nominees and the show's host which proved predictable as heavy favorites won in all the major categories.
A story about a former movie superhero who reinvents himself on Broadway, "Birdman" earned a total of four Oscars, for best director, best picture, best cinematography and original screenplay. Co-writer and director, Mexican filmmaker Alejandro Inarritu said the film was based on an improbable story.
“The idea was really crazy. A script that started with a middle aged man, interior dressing room, cross-legged floating, can go anywhere, and we are here. I don’t know how that happened, but it happened," he said during his acceptance speech.
2015 Academy Award Winners
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Birdman
Julianne Moore, Still Alive
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Best Supporting Actor
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Best Adapted Screenplay
Graham Moore, The Imitation Game
Best Original Screenplay
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo, Birdman
Best Foreign Language Film
Best Documentary Feature
Best Animated Feature
Big Hero 6
Best Film Editing
Best Original Song
Glory from Selma, written by Common and John Legend
Best Original Score
Alexandre Desplat, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Emmanuel Lubezki, Birdman
Best Costume Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Production Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Sound Editing
Best Sound Mixing
Best Visual Effects
Best Short Film, Live Action
The Phone Call
Best Short Film, Animated
Best Documentary, Short Subject
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It was the first Academy Award for Inarritu, 51, whose film stars Michael Keaton as a washed-up, former superhero actor trying to make an improbable comeback with his own Broadway play.
"I am very, very thankful, grateful, humbly honored by the Academy for this incredible recognition,'' he said. "This is crazy.''
Inarritu praised his fellow best director nominees, saying "our work will only be judged by time.''
First-time host Neil Patrick Harris opened the night with a quip about the lack of diversity among the nominees for the film industry's highest honors and later came out in his underwear in a spoof of best picture favorite "Birdman.''
Each of the eight best picture nominees went home with at least one award, but it was a disappointing night for Richard Linklater's "Boyhood" an unprecedented endeavor to depict the simple story of a boy growing up over 12 years, all with the same actors. It won one Oscar for its six nods.
Wes Anderson's colorful caper, "The Grand Budapest Hotel'' proved popular among the 6,100 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who vote for the Oscars, winning four awards on its nine nominations.
The independent film "Whiplash" about an aspiring jazz drummer and his tough mentor from young director Damien Chazelle, won three Oscars for best supporting actor, film editing and sound mixing.
Best Foreign Language Film
"Ida", a Polish drama, won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film - the country's first Academy Award.
Directed by Pawel Pawlikowski, the stark black-and-white film was considered a favorite to win the honor. The film follows a novice nun in 1962 Poland who discovers she was born Jewish.
Pawlikowski pushed the 45-second acceptance speech limit to thank "my Polish friends who are in front of the TV, the crew who were in the trenches with us and who are totally drunk now, and you were fantastic.''
Best Actor, Actress
Eddie Redmayne won the Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading role for "The Theory of Everything" in which he portrayed physicist Steven Hawking. Hawking is battling the degenerative neurological disease ALS. The win robbed "Birdman'' lead and former "Batrman" actor Michael Keaton of a big comeback moment.
As he held up the Oscar statueete, Redmayne dedicated the Oscar to the scientist and his family, and others battling ALS.
“I will be its custodian. And I promise you I will look after him. I will polish him, I will answer his beck and call, I will wait on him hand and foot," an elated Redmayne promised.
Five-time nominee Julianne Moore won best actress for her portrayal of a woman suffering from early onset Alzheimer's in ''Still Alice."
Moore said that the film is shedding light on another medical condition, Alzheimer’s disease.
“And people with Alzheimer’s deserve to be seen so that we can find a cure," she said.
Best Supporting Actor, Actress
Patricia Arquette won the Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for "Boyhood" in which she played a single mother struggling to bring up two children.
It was the first Oscar win for Arquette, 46, who swept the movie awards this season for playing the ups and downs of an every day mom in the independent coming-of-age drama.
"It's our time to have wage equality once and for all and for equal rights for the women in the United States of America,'' Arquette told the audience during her acceptance speech. Many expected the film to win other top awards, but it earned just one.
The star-studded awards ceremony's first Oscar statuette went to actor J.K. Simmons for Best Actor in a Supporting role for his performance in "Whiplash".
It was the first Academy Award for Simmons, 60, who played Fletcher, a sharp-tongued brutally demanding jazz teacher at an elite music school who pushes a drummer to the edge.
He had been a favorite to win for the film, after sweeping the supporting actor category in all the major awards shows before Sunday.
In his acceptance speech, the actor thanked his wife and his children and then made a family-centered plea to the audience and those watching at home.
"If I may, call your mom everybody, call your mom, call your dad. If you're lucky enough to have a parent or two alive on this planet, call them,'' Simmons said.
The son of a university professor of music, Simmons has previously said that he believes his obtaining the role was an instance of "kismet,'' or fate.
It was a night during which the controversy over the lack of diversity among the nominees was front and center. Host Harris opened the telecast with the quip: "Tonight we honor Hollywood's best and whitest, I mean brightest.''
But the race theme resonated in a more serious way too, when Common and John Legend got a standing ovation and brought many in the audience to tears with their performance of "Glory'' from the 1960s civil rights drama "Selma.''
It won best song, delivering the sole victory to "Selma,'' about the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King. The film at the center of the diversity debate, sparked by the exclusion of minority actors from the four acting categories. also sparked the Twitter hashtag #OscarsSoWhite.
Legend said the anthem has inspired people in protest marches over continuing civil rights abuses.
"Selma' is now, because the struggle for justice is right now," Legend said in the aftermath of recent racially-charged protests in America.
Best documentary went to ''Citizenfour," director Laura Poitras' feature about National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, the former government contractor who detailed the secret mass surveillance programs.
"The subject of 'Citizenfour,' Edward Snowden, could not be here for some treason," Harris joked.
"Big Hero 6" was named best animated feature.
The Oscars are presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and are the highlight of the year for the movie industry. Academy officials say the presentation is seen in more than 100 countries.
Some material for this report came from Reuters
Photo Gallery: Oscars Red Carpet