In a rare year in which the marquee Best Picture category came down to the wire despite seven months of campaigning and three months of running the awards-season gauntlet, Fox Searchlight’s Birdman won the big prize tonight at the 87th Annual Academy Awards. Its four total wins tied with The Grand Budapest Hotel for the most trophies on the night.
It was the fourth victory of the evening for the pic, which centers on a former action-hero actor (Best Actor nominee Michael Keaton) trying his hand at mounting a near-impossible Broadway play amid a wild cast of characters and his inner (and outer) demons and its fair share of mysticism. Alejandro G. Inarritu won Best Director — the second helmer in a row from Mexico to take the honor after Alfonso Cuaron for Gravity last year, and he also shared in the Original Screenplay win with co-scribes Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo.
“I still don’t know why I did what I did,” said Gonzalez Inarritu after taking home the night’s biggest prize. “When you lose fear – fear is the condom of life – it doesn’t allow you to enjoy things. I did away with fear and the result was making love for sure.”
Birdman cinematographer Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki, who won last year for Gravity, won again in his category.
The eight-title Best Pic field included Warner Bros’ American Sniper, Fox Searchlight’s Grand Budapest Hotel, the Weinstein Company’s The Imitation Game, Paramount’s Selma, Focus Features’ The Theory Of Everything and Sony Pictures Classics’ Whiplash and IFC Films’ time-shifting Boyhood — the last two who started their awards journey way back at Sundance 2014.
Birdman came into the night with nine nominations, tops along with studio sibling Grand Budapest Hotel, which also won four Oscars tonight. Birdman is already on VOD and comes out Tuesday on DVD, but there is the demand from some exhibitors to get a Best Picture winner back on the big screen (the pic was released October 17 and has grossed $37.7 million domestically).
Birdman stands to make another estimated 9%-17% after tonight according to sources, raising its domestic B.O. to $41M-$44M.