In Depth

Oscars 2015: best and worst moments of the Academy Awards

Sharon Stone's vagina, Lady Gaga's favourite things and 'racist' jokes made it a memorable night at the Oscars

Now that the stardust has settled on the 87th Academy Awards and the winners have gone home with their golden statuettes, commentators are reflecting on the highlights of the marathon backslapping showbiz evening that is the Oscars. 

As usual it was kooky, emotional, at times awkward, and inevitably long. Here are some of the best, worst and most memorable moments of the night. 

Neil Patrick Harris sings between Sharon Stone's legs

Neil Patrick Harris, the former How I Met Your Mother star, hosted the Academy awards for the first time, kicking off proceedings with a spoof song and dance act called Moving Pictures. Harris raised eyebrows and titters by performing a line from his song while standing in front of giant projection of Sharon Stone's uncrossed legs in the infamous Basic Instinct scene where she "goes commando". As Kevin Fallon in the Daily Beast put it "Neil Patrick Harris came out of Sharon Stone's vagina. Just the typical Oscar fare."

Oscar speeches go political

Oscar winners director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (for Birdman) and Patricia Arquette (Best Supporting Actress in Boyhood) both used their acceptance speeches as a platform for political issues close to their hearts. In his Best Picture acceptance speech Inarritu addressed his country of origin, and the US immigration system. "I want to dedicate this award to my fellow Mexicans, the ones who live in Mexico. I pray that we can find and build a government that we deserve. And the ones that live in this country who are part of the latest generation of immigrants," he said. "I just pray that they can be treated with the same dignity and respect as the ones who came before and built this incredible immigrant nation." Meanwhile, Arquette received enthusiastic applause for turning her acceptance speech into an appeal for equal pay for women.

Jokes that fell flat

Race has been an issue for these awards, after civil rights movie Selma was snubbed in most of the major Oscar categories. This provided comedy fodder for Neil Patrick Harris's opening speech where he introduced the show as Hollywood's "best and whitest … I mean brightest". But other jokes fell flat. When Sean Penn announced that Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu had won the Oscar for Best Picture, he said of the Mexican director: "Who gave this son of a bitch his green card?" The Guardian reports that the joke caused an instant Twitter backlash, with some accusing the actor of being "racist and offensive". Inarritu, however, was reportedly unruffled by the joke, saying he had a long friendship with Penn and had teased him mercilessly in the past.

Lady Gaga's "Sound of Music" tribute

Commentators praised Lady Gaga's performance for the 50th anniversary of The Sound of Music. Rolling Stone says "Lady Gaga belted out a gorgeous medley of songs from the film", including the title song, My Favourite Things, and Climb Every Mountain. But the Huffington Post's Matthew Jacobs complained that her performance came a little late in the proceedings, at 11.15pm, with seven awards to go, and only 15 minutes until the show was scheduled to end.

Glory to the Selma song

While British actor David Oyelowo missed out on a Best Actor nomination for his role in Selma and its director Ava DuVernay was snubbed in the Best Director category, there was universal praise for musicians John Legend and Common, who collected the Best Song award for Selma's rousing tune Glory. "Recently John and I got to perform 'Glory' on the same bridge Dr King marched on 50 years ago," Common said. "The spirit of this bridge transcends race, religion, sexual orientation, social status and connects a kid from the south side of Chicago to France [and] to Hong Kong."  

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