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Some other winners at the Oscars

HOST Neil Patrick Harris’ ‘Birdman’-inspired underwear gag a bit too late. AP

By this time, most film buffs already know who won awards at the recent Oscars–Eddie Redmayne, Julianne Moore, Patricia Arquette, J.K. Simmons, “Birdman,” director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu, etc. But, the glittering awards ceremonies produced other winners who may have gone home without trophies, but were triumphant victors in other, similarly substantial ways.

Topping that alternative list is Lady Gaga, whose surprisingly “un-Gaga” musical rendition of songs from “The Sound of Music” bowled viewers over, and showed that she could impress them without her signature far-out antics, gimmicks and shock tactics.

The “makeover” musical moment was surprising and even shocking for some, because most everyone thought that the reason the “extreme” performer resorted to all of her far-out moves was to distract people from, and compensate for, her lack of a good singing voice!

Well, that may have been true when she was starting out, but she’s firmed up her singing since then, so it was really time for her to finally “come clean” and make it on her own, just with her singing, period.

New phase

Fact is, Gaga recently hinted at this new phase in her career when she did an “undecorated” duet with no less than iconic balladeer Tony Bennett. But, her Oscar “moment” was definitely bigger and more demanding, so it deserves all of the playing-up and highlighting it’s been getting.

Truth to tell, however, while the gambit was a golden moment for her as show-stopping musical renditions go, her take on “Climb Every Mountain” didn’t soar powerfully enough.

Still, the fact that she was able to do it without ending up with a discordant egg on her face is certainly vindication enough–and perhaps an even greater success than she herself had hoped it would be!

The big question now is, what will Gaga do for an encore? Will she focus on legit, “no-distractions” musical performance from here on in, or will she go “freaky and florid” from time to time, just to keep fans of far-out and “extreme” entertainment slap-happy? Decisions, decisions!

Exciting opener

Other “nontrophy” winners at the Oscars include Fil-Am Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, who came up with the exciting opening song, “Moving Pictures”; the enlightened film people who used the show to promote their significant advocacies; even the “losing” film, “Boyhood,” whose supporters remain steadfast in their admiration for its many virtues!

And, what about awards-night show host Neil Patrick Harris–how did he fare? His opening musical salvo got the show off to a really rip-roaring start. Later, however, some of his jokes fell flat, robbing his overall performance of the genuinely “Billy Crystal” quality and impact that it may have been gunning for.

While some of his digs were well-appreciated, including his early crack about the show’s paying tribute to “the whitest, er, the brightest” achievements of the movie trade, other salvos came off as too cynical or combative.

Worse, Harris occasionally came up with excessively private jokes and references that were lost on the mass TV audience.

He did try to electrify his performance midway through the show by audaciously “referencing” Michael Keaton’s underwear scene in “Birdman” and making a “shocking” appearance in his tighty whities, but it was a bit too late. Well, you can’t win ’em all!

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