Arquette, Simmons Win Oscars for Roles in ‘Boyhood,’ ‘Whiplash’

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Ethan Hawke, left, congratulates Patricia Arquette after she wins the award for best actress in a supporting role for “Boyhood” at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

Photograph: John Shearer/Invision/AP

J.K. Simmons, the veteran film and TV star seen in everything from “Spider-Man” to insurance commercials, and Patricia Arquette won Academy Awards for supporting roles.

Simmons, 60, took the prize for his part in “Whiplash,” while Arquette, 46, won for her role in “Boyhood,” Sunday at the 87th Academy Awards, telecast live from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. Neil Patrick Harris, a veteran emcee of the Emmys and Tonys, is hosting Hollywood’s most prestigious awards show for the first time.

Harris, 41, opened the show with a sharp elbow for Hollywood, joking the ceremony would honor the “best and the whitest” in a poke at academy voters who bestowed only two nominations on the Martin Luther King Jr. drama “Selma.” The snub led to the creation of the Twitter hashtag #OscarSoWhite.

Simmons garnered the statuette in a tough contest against Edward Norton, who plays a hard-to-work-with Broadway actor in “Birdman,” and Ethan Hawke, co-star of “Boyhood,” a coming of age tale. All three films are nominated for best picture in an awards season marked by small, artistically ambitious movies.

Simmons described the awards race as “more tiring than the lean times.” For him the award “means more opportunity,” he said backstage.

Arquette, who won for her supporting role in the movie “Boyhood,” the coming-of-age tale shot over 12 years with the same cast, said the time has come for equal rights for women.

Women’s Equality

“To every woman who has given birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation: We have fought for everybody else’s equal rights,” Arquette said from the stage. “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

“Boyhood” is a favorite for best picture among betting houses, along with “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).” This year’s nominees highlight small-budget films with big artistic aims.

In “Boyhood,” Arquette plays the mother to Mason and Samantha, who audiences watch grow through their childhood and teen years. While the film focuses on Mason, moviegoers also see Arquette’s character and the father, played by Ethan Hawke, grow over time.

In “Whiplash,” Simmons plays Terence Fletcher, an instructor known for his terrifying methods as well as his teaching talents. He discovers an aspiring drummer and brings him into his top jazz ensemble at the school, forever changing the young man’s life. The film has a total of five nominations.

Best Favorites

Simmons won the Screen Actors Guild award for the role as well as a Golden Globe, and was the favorite to win the Oscar, according to, which tracks the awards races.

Of the films competing for best picture. “Boyhood” and “Birdman” are the favorites to win, based on the odds from betting houses. Richard Linklater’s unique 12-year project has brought in $44 million at the box office worldwide, according to researcher Box Office Mojo. “Birdman” has grossed $73 million.

“American Sniper,” from Warner Bros., has the biggest box office sales so far among the best-picture nominees, with $406 million worldwide, as of Feb. 22. It is nominated in six categories, including best actor for Bradley Cooper.

The other nominees include “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” a comic post-World War I caper tale, “The Imitation Game,” the story of World War II British codebreaker Alan Turing, the Stephen Hawking story “The Theory of Everything,” and the Martin Luther King Jr. story “Selma.”