ByTommy DePaoli, writer at
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Tommy DePaoli

At this year's Oscars, many viewers and critics viewed Michael Keaton as the frontrunner for the Best Actor Academy Award. His portrayal of a washed-up superhero actor trying to get his career back on track hit more than a few familiar notes, and [Birdman](movie:780317) ended up taking home the most coveted prize of the night.

Unfortunately for Bird/Batman, none of that was enough to win him his category. What's worse, Vine user Beefyrhetoric caught Keaton putting away a suspicious folded piece of paper as the winner, Eddie Redmayne, walked to the stage. The small, blink-and-you-miss-it moment was quickly declared the "saddest of the night" by many online platforms.


All I can see is Emma Stone's "relevance" speech in Birdman running through his head on a loop while watching the newbie claim his award. If this was truly the well-publicized faux pas that people are claiming, then Birdman just got a whole new layer of meta to add to the many fan theories out there.

Despite my initial cringing, I've started questioning the truth of this moment. In the spirit of defending the downtrodden (as Batman and presumably Birdman are to do), I have to point out the flaws with all of these claims.

To spite the hubbub, I've come up with three alternative possibilities of what the incriminating piece of paper really is in an effort to explain away Batman's supposed public shame.

A receptacle for his gum

Keaton was gnawing on his chewing gum ALL NIGHT LONG, but when Best Actor, one of the last categories, was finally announced, the gum was gone. I'm floating the theory that his supposed speech could have just been his gum disposal. Hey, Keaton's a good guy. There's no way he's simply sticking that stuff under his seat.

A handkerchief

It's no secret that the Academy Awards can lead "the best and brightest in the business" to break into tears, and this was an exceptionally emotional Oscars. The "Glory" performance alone was enough to make seemingly everyone in the theater break down into a blubbering mess (understandable—it was an incredible performance). So here comes Good Guy Keaton to the rescue with his handkerchief, allowing the attendees, who are not as comfortable with crying as Chris Pine, to dab their wet cheeks.

The stuffing for Neil Patrick Harris' tighty whities

It's simple correlation. NPH stole this scene from Birdman, and needed an item from Michael Keaton to really get into character. Keaton was holding onto this for good luck, but put it away when he lost. This is an iron-clad hypothesis, and no one can tell me any differently.

Did I convince you, or is there no doubt that Michael Keaton was putting away his speech?


What do you think the incriminating piece of paper was?


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