For the last several years, and maybe even my entire adult life, I've been complaining about acceptance speeches at awards ceremonies... particularly the Oscars.
The winners are huge pop culture icons, snagging the award of their lifetime... with a global platform for three minutes to actually say something important.
To be honest, most of the time the winners drone on and on trying to thank everyone on their mental list. The really awful ones actually pull out a folded piece of paper. C'mon, you're are actors... you know what to do when you are in the spotlight.
Sure, there have been some highlights through the years. Like Tom Hanks when he won for Philadelphia, bringing overnight empathy to the AIDS crisis when very few were acknowledging it. Last year, Jared Leto stole the show very early in the night with his moving acceptance speech honoring both his mom and the transgender population. Very few followed suit.
Which is why when Patricia Arquette spoke about wage equality when she won Best Supporting Actress for Boyhood, I wasn't holding my breathe for any more inspiration. She said it well, I will say that, and completely understood the power she possessed for those three minutes. But I thought that might be it.
It turns out that she set a trend.
We finally finally finally had a number of acceptance speeches that tackled cultural issues that we are facing. Finally the acceptance speeches reflected us and what we are all going through, collectively.
Like when John Legend and Common won for their song from Selma. They didn't waste their time thanking all of the musicians... I'm sure that they've already done that. They took the stage and sent us a message about justice and equality. Unbelievably articulate and inspiring.
Then we got a surprise from Graham Moore, when he won for Best Screenplay. He bravely admitted that he had once attempted suicide, and encouraged us all to "stay weird." Look how far he has come... look how far any of us have come. Brave indeed.
I just knew in my heart of hearts that Julianne Moore would win for Best Actress...it was her turn IMHO. While her speech did get admittedly jumbled, she spoke brilliantly about understanding Alzheimer's disease, as portrayed by her role in Still Alice. A very misunderstood disease that needs a little more understanding. Ok, a lot more understanding but it's time like these that propel us forward. Thank you.
So sure, the opening number from NPH was fantastic and the musical numbers were breathtaking (not a dry eye in the house after Legend/Common), but it was the string of acceptance speeches that left me inspired.
Just as they should. What's your experience? JIM.