J.K. Simmons won the first Oscar of the night at the 87th Academy Awards: best supporting actor for his performance in “Whiplash.”
He earned a standing ovation.
The longtime character actor — known to audiences for his roles in Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man,” the TV show “The Closer” and ads for Farmers Insurance and M&Ms, among many others — paid tribute to his family in his speech, praising his wife and his “above-average” children.
He also put in a plug for actual phone calls.
“Call your mom, call your dad; don’t text, don’t email; tell them you love them,” he said.
Host Neil Patrick Harris tweaked him by humming the Farmers theme as Simmons left the stage.
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” got off to a fast start with two Oscars for costume design and makeup.
Simmons’ speech was a heartfelt beginning to a show that started out on a lighter note.
The Oscars wasted no time at poking fun at some of the big issues facing Hollywood: diversity, economics and self-involvement.
Host Neil Patrick Harris led off the show with a joke about the lack of diversity among the acting nominees.
“This year we honor Hollywood’s best and whitest — sorry, brightest,” he joked.
Then, in a mammoth opening number, he and Anna Kendrick were joined by Jack Black, who angrily hopped on stage to throw a sarcastic wet blanket over their hailing of “Moving Pictures,” noting that the business is as much about “raising tents with tentpoles and chasing Chinese bucks” than it is about art.
He was summarily dismissed by Harris.
Simmons’ win wasn’t a surprise — he’s won pretty much everything in sight for his performance as a martinet music teacher — but the show might have a few coming.
Best picture is considered a real race between two films in particular, “Boyhood” and “Birdman.” And best actor could go to “Birdman’s” Michael Keaton, “The Theory of Everything’s” Eddie Redmayne or “American Sniper’s” Bradley Cooper.
The surprises started even before the opening curtain, with unexpected rain on the red carpet.
The weather didn’t dampen the spirits of the celebrities arriving for Hollywood’s biggest night, though their outfits appear subdued in color, with lots of whites, blacks, silvers and grays.
Lady Gaga added some red with what appeared to be exaggerated dishwashing gloves.
Best supporting actress nominee Patricia Arquette decided to split the difference between black and white, with her gown consisting of a white top and black skirt.
So did comedian Kevin Hart, who was wearing a tuxedo featuring a white jacket with black lapels, along with a black shirt, black tie and white pants.
“When you’re on the red carpet, you might as well pop,” he told CNN.
However, a Twitter hashtag was encouraging interviewers to ask celebrities more than just “Who are you wearing?” The trending hashtag was #AskHerMore.
“Boyhood” director Richard Linklater had a just-happy-to-be-here attitude about his unlikely best picture nominee.
“We had a lot of people pulling for us,” he told CNN on the red carpet. “We’ll take whatever we get.”
“Boyhood” seemed to have the early edge, but recent victories for “Birdman” — including wins at the Producers Guild Awards and Saturday’s Independent Spirit honors — have made it the frontrunner.
The show airs from Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre.