In recent years it has become almost standard that Oscar will play it safe and this year Neil Patrick Harris proved no exception as host with his toothless, stale humor and uninspired opening musical act (only given life by a huge assist from Jack Black (the ones you want to host the show never do)) aimed at a likewise colorless generation who somehow find this smarmy twerp to be one of the industry's grandest entertainers. Otherwise, the rest of the production offered very few laughs (I did appreciate NPH's Birdman spoof) and unfortunately consisted mostly of musical performances, with the crowd's reaction to John Legend and Common's Selma number being a nauseating low point of the evening, and the odd and overlong Lady Gaga Sound of Music rendering only redeemed by the appearance of Julie Andrews. As per the awards, there were few surprises, excepting a few major ones which unfortunately favored the overlauded and self-important Birdman. J.K. Simmons, in a deserving win for Best Supporting Actor, had the speech of the night: succinct, funny, and tender though not cloying. Patricia Arquette, another meritorious supporting winner, offered the worst speech who for some reason chose the occasion to use the Oscar podium as a platform for equal wages for women, as she dispassionately read her lecture from notecards. Julianne Moore won an overdue Oscar for an unworthy role and Eddie Redmayne, the least deserving contestant in his field, took home the trophy because he was the only nominee who played a physically handicapped person. I had issues with every Oscar Birdman, the big winner of the night, took home starting with the Cinematography trophy for back to back recipient Emmanuel Lubezki. The simulated continual tracking shot seems more like an editing feat (a category in which it wasn't even nominated) and the rest of the bland photography pales in comparison to like nominated films such as Mr. Turner, Ida, and The Grand Budapest Hotel. Lastly, the greatest disappointment of the evening had to be the favorite Boyhood losing steam as it reached the finish line. Though the Academy voted differently, down the line I believe Richard Linklater's 12 year labor of love will be looked back upon as the finest achievement of 2014.