The annual Academy Awards is both a celebration of the motion picture arts and big business. A “for your consideration” campaign can cost anywhere from $100 million to $500 million. And to get a advertising spot in the broadcast, ABC reportedly charged businesses an average of $1.95 million.
Of course, that's only part of the picture. A successful awards night can mean a number of things. It can be a mix of well placed products and inspirational moments, breaking the monotonous parade of faces and projects most movie fans have never seen and will never think about again. The goal of any awards broadcast is to get remembered. So who fared best? Here are some of the best and worst moments of the night.
Worst use of metaphor
This year’s ceremony tracked the process of making film itself. The program began with animation of a weird innovation factory squeezing out “courage,” “heart” and “imagination” -- as if innovation’s first moments could be mechanized. The montage that followed featured clips of some performances that weren’t nominated, an odd choice since these performances were ones the academy itself hadn’t felt pushed the innovation envelope.
Best use of peer pressure
From the moment he walked out, host Chris Rock owned the stage, using the the platform he was given to hold nothing back, leading to an unpredictable night, providing incisive, hilarious and occasionally awkward attention to an ongoing industry controversy over diversity that had defined most of the ramp up to the event. Rock never forgot his audience and used the opportunity to get the millionaire movie stars -- and even Vice President Joe Biden -- in his audience to shell out for some Girl Scout cookies. The entrepreneurial move netted the girls $65,243, to be exact.
Best new feature: ‘I would like to thank’ ticker
This year, nominees could send up to 80 words in advance for a special ‘thank you’ ticker that would run along the bottom of the screen, thanking agents, friends, and more. It didn’t always keep speeches short or stop the orchestra from playing off more than a few nominees at inopportune moments. But when used well, the ticker freed nominees to do a little more than run down a litany of names, making you think “Why didn’t they do this before?” Innovation lives.
Best nod to a team
"There are actually multitudes of people that help make me look halfway competent. So many that this speech will be 2 hours." This quote from Colin Gibson, one half of the Oscar winning team for Best Production Design for “Mad Max: Fury Road” was a great way to thank his and Lisa Thompson’s team, and acknowledge that the enormous achievement of the end product requires the hard work and passion of so many people.
Worst industry tie-in
What was going on with those Kohl’s ads? The people lip syncing famous acceptance speeches, like Whoopi Goldberg’s for Ghost were often more creepy than celebratory.
Best reminder vision still counts for something
Ex Machina won this year’s Oscar for Visual Effects, beating out movies like Mad Max: Fury Road, which had an impressive sweep at the ceremony, The Martian and a little indie film called Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Ex Machina had the lowest budget of all the nominees in its category, a good lesson to remember not to let a lack of funds get in the way of your vision.
Worst use of a tracksuit
Sacha Baron Cohen trotted out his Ali G character from the early aughts to introduce Room (about a kidnapping victim) and Brooklyn (about an Irish immigrant to America). The appearance was more confusing than entertaining. Talk about cultural dissonance.
With his win for Best Animated Feature for Inside Out, thrilled director Pete Docter said in his speech, “Regardless of a gold man, we get to make stuff,” and encouraged any kids out there watching having a tough time in school to channel their feelings into creating something special and unique to them. “It’ll make a world of difference.”