For many people, Super Bowl Sunday is the most anticipated winter tv program. I do watch that sporting event. However, it is not the most keenly anticipated show for me. All my life, the end of December has not only signaled the end of the year, it signals the countdown to my favorite televised event…the Academy Awards, nicknamed the Oscars.
I am posting in the blog during commercial breaks, as this award show typically concludes late in the evening. And I am loving the program already. Justin Timberlake performed one of the nominated songs as the opener, a lively number that had attendees on their feet, dancing in the aisles. I applauded as heartily as anyone.
I confess to a slight trepidation, leading up to the award show. With the highly charged political climate that we currently live in, I felt my anticipation diminished by the concern that tonight’s focus would shift from the movies and spectacular performances to divisive speeches and statements.
This is what I had to do…let my concerns go. I accepted that everyone is allowed to share their thoughts and opinions. Everyone. And if I reacted to something said, whether by host Jimmy Kimmel or a presenter or an actor accepting an Oscar, that’s on me, that’s something to go within and inquire about.
Problem solved. Joy restored.
I needn’t have been concerned. Host Jimmy Kimmel set the tone for the evening with a light hearted opening monologue. “We are going to have fun tonight!” Jimmy promised. I applauded again.
Here are the six top awards:
The first winner of the evening was Mahershala Ali, for Moonlight. If Jimmy set the tone for the award show, Mahershala raised the bar for acceptance speeches. He was humble, gracious, sincere. “It’s not about you,” he was told as a new actor, “You are serving the characters, the stories.” My heart was pierced by his words, his tears. Mahershala is an actor to watch, as he tells stories.
Viola Davis picked up the Oscar for her performance in Fences. Through tears she shared passionately that she became an actress because this is a profession that knows what it means to celebrate life…not just well known publically recognized lives, but the lives of common everyday people who hoped and dreamed and lived and died. She was asked, as an actress, “What kind of stories do you want to tell?” Viola is answering that question through the characters she chooses to portray.
Emma Stone captured this award, her first, for her role in La La Land. She thanked the other nominees for allowing her to stand alongside them. Through tears she said she still has a lot of learning and growing to do, and her Oscar is a symbol, a sign, to continue on her journey.
Casey Affleck, humble and searching for the right words, picked up his first Oscar for Manchester by the Sea. His acting career has been inspired by Denzel Washington, whom he met for the first time tonight.
Damien Chazelle, La La Land, picked up his first Oscar and is the youngest director in history to win in the Best Director category. He is 32 years old.
In all the years that I’ve watched the Oscars, I’ve never seen the wrong winner announced. It happened tonight, for the top award, Best Picture. The presenters were given the wrong envelope, which contained the winner for Best Actress Emma Stone, La La Land. Confused, they hesitated and at last announced La La Land as the winner. During the acceptance speech, one of the supposed winners broke the news that they had actually lost…and Moonlight was the correct winner. I was as confused as everyone else was! I was hoping La La Land would win. But I was impressed with the graciousness of the La La Land cast and the Moonlight group. I wish both could have walked off the stage with Oscars.
I so enjoyed the evening. There were many surprises, such as a bus full of unsuspecting tourists who got a peek inside the theater, and a funny Mean Tweets segment where actors read trolls’ comments about them on Twitter. And a huge number of firsts occurred: all the major categories were won by people receiving their first Oscars, Amazon had its first big movie nominated, Manchester by the Sea, and it won in two categories, the youngest director in history won, and for the first time a major goof at the end caused the wrong film to be announced as Best Picture. Wow.
For me, the biggest surprise (other than the unintentional twist at the end) was finding out what this year’s theme was for the Academy Awards…Inspiration. I didn’t know until the theme was revealed, half way through the show. My mouth fell open. I loved my personal connection with the word, my word for 2017, and that men and women shared throughout the evening about the films, characters and actors who inspired them.
And there were tears, shed by winners as they spoke from their hearts, and shed by me during those acceptance speeches, during moving performances of the nominated songs, and when Michael J Fox, who is battling Parkinson’s disease, presented for Film Editing.
The Memorial segment is especially poignant, as actors who have died in the past year are honored for their contributions to the world, and for their lives. We lost so many bright shining souls, passionate gifted people who devoted their lives to following their hearts. We have been blessed by their dedication.
I was inspired tonight. I have nine Best Picture nominated films to watch and I made a list of other movies, shorts and documentaries to view as well. In fact, for the first time, I would like to watch all of the winners, in all of the categories, a lofty goal for sure, a challenge I am presenting to myself.
I appreciated the diversity of the 89th Academy Awards. Although La La Land collected the most Oscars with six wins, no movie overshadowed the others. The winners were from countries around the world including Italy, Syria, Iran, Canada, France and England. All races, colors, genders and ages were represented, celebrated, and honored.
Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, summed up the evening perfectly. She said, “The power of art transcends all things…the magic of movies, that’s what we celebrate tonight.”