Oscar Night 2017

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. 

Oscar Night 2017

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. 

Oscar Night 2017

Oscar Night 2017Yeah…I take notes.

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:

Oscar Night 2017
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. 

Oscar Night 2017
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. 

Oscar Night 2017
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. 

Oscar Night 2017

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. 

Oscar Night 2017
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. 

Oscar Night 2017

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. 

Oscar Night 2017
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. 

Oscar Night 2017
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.” 


Oscar Night 2017

Surrender 59: The 88th Academy Awards

It’s Oscar night once again, an event I look forward to each year. This is a highly anticipated, deeply meaningful evening for me. I clear the day, eliminate distractions, gather a few snacks, brew tea and settle in to watch people celebrate who they are and what they love to do.


Because the award show tends to run late, I have a difficult time getting my blog post up before midnight. So I’m doing something new and different tonight. I’m live blogging during the show, capturing the experience as it happens, and creating the blog as the evening unfolds. Greg wisely observed, when I mentioned my plan to him, that I was flowing with the flow tonight. That’s it! I’m surrendering to the flow of the evening, moment by moment.

Chris Rock is tonight’s host. He’s expected, in his opening monologue, to address the one cloud hanging over the Oscars this year, the lack of diversity among the nominees, for the second year in a row. Watching the Red Carpet pre-show, I appreciated the honest, earnest way that the attendees spoke about working together, about finding solutions, about being one, about being family.

The red carpet is rolled out. The stars are out as well, shining bright. The show is about to begin. Here we go…

The opening sequence, with a montage of this year’s films, is beautiful…imagination, talent, and heart indeed. Chris immediately addresses the “elephant in the room”. He’s a comedian. He uses his words to spark laughter, but also to bring perspective, in a constructive if humorous way. I appreciate and respect his remarks. He asks for more opportunities for black actors, and I agree. And now he moves on. “We are here to honor actors,” he says. “We are here to honor film”.

Spotlight and The Big Short take the first two Oscars, for Original Screenplay and Adapted Screenplay.

The Academy Awards is trying something new this year, to shorten the acceptance speech time, and therefore the show length. As the winners move to the stage, a list of people that they wish to thank scrolls across the bottom of the tv screen. So far, it’s working well, although some winners can’t seem to help thanking spouses, children and key people in their lives.

Five powerful performances…who will it be? JK Simmons presents the Oscar to Alicia Vikander, for The Danish Girl. She gives a tearful, moving and brief acceptance speech. Well done.

Mad Max Fury Road picks up three, for Costuming, Production Design and Make-up & Hairstyling. I look forward to seeing this movie!

And 3 more Oscars for Mad Max Fury Road, for Film Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing.

The Minions present for Animated Short Film!  The Bear wins. And Buzz Lightyear and Woody present for Animated Feature Film. The winner is…Inside Out! Love that movie, and great acceptance speech, encouraging kids to make things…films, art, crafts.

Sylvester Stallone is the favorite to win in this category, among a fine field of nominees. Patricia Arquette gives the Oscar to…Mark Rylance, a surprise win, for Bridge of Spies.

Always a touching segment, the Memoriam honors those in the film industry who have passed away recently. As Dave Grohl sings Blackbird Singing in the Dead of Night, photos appear behind him of people such as Maureen O’Hara, Christopher Lee, and Alan Rickman. Leonard Nimoy completes the montage, with his endearing quote, “I have been, and will always be, your friend.” Sniff!

Vice President Biden introduces Lady Gaga, who sings Til It Happens to You.

Three of the nominated songs were performed live during the evening. Not having a favorite that I’m  cheering for, I can simply enjoy each song. The winner tonight is Writing’s on the Wall, from the James Bond movie, Spectre.

And the Best Original Score winner is Ennio Morricone, for Hateful Eight.

We are down to the big categories, and the final four golden statues. JJ Abtams presents the Oscar for Best Director to Alejandro G. Inarritu, for The Revenant.

These five women all gave spectacular performances. Eddie Redmayne presents the Oscar to…Brie Larson, for her role in Room. She was the favorite in this category. I’ve heard her share about her own challenging early life and I look forward to seeing her performance.

What an outstanding group of men. This category has been heavily speculated upon, with Leonardo DiCaprio the lead runner. Julianne Moore hands the Oscar to…Leonardo DiCaprio, his first one, for his part in The Revenant!

It’s time for the big winner tonight, for Best Picture, from a group of eight films, none of which I have seen. Morgan Freeman does the honor. And the Oscar goes to….Spotlight! What a surprise! The Revenant was expected to win.

And that’s the conclusion, for the 88th Academy Awards. I enjoyed the program. And I appreciate the changes that are already in process that will ensure that the awards are given for excellence of performance, while also promoting more opportunities, from better scripts to finished films, for all involved in the movie industry, regardless of skin color.

Blogging throughout the evening, as the program unfolded, worked perfectly! I’m ready to post, rather than just beginning to write. I love the film industry. I appreciate the talented men and women, in all aspects of movie production, for sharing their passions and their gifts with the world, with me.

Stay tuned for blog posts about each of the eight best picture nominated movies. I can’t wait to begin watching!

Day 61: 86th Academy Awards Bingo


This was not my first time to watch the Oscars. No, I’ve been watching this yearly event for most of my life. My family knows not to contact me on Oscar night, unless it’s an emergency. When my kids were little, their daddy would entertain them in another room or take them out for the evening so I could watch the Academy Awards without distraction. That’s how meaningful this show has been, and is, to me.

Naturally, I wanted to be able to incorporate today’s first into this special evening. I had planned a small viewing party, but the weather canceled that plan. So for today’s first, I printed out a ballot so I could vote and keep track of the winners. And I printed out Oscar Bingo cards. Greg and I watched for things to cross off, like “bilingual acceptance”, “#Oscars” and “name mangled”. Neither of us yelled out “Bingo!”, but it was a fun activity, and something I had not done before.

The theme for tonight’s show was “Heroes”. I enjoyed the tributes to the many types of heroes portrayed on the big screen over the years. There was a special nod to The Wizard of Oz, this being that movie’s 75th anniversary. The Memoriam brought a tear to my eyes, as those in the film industry who have recently passed were honored. Their works live on as a legacy to future generations of movie goers. Bette Midler singing “Wind Beneath My Wings” at the end of the memorial segment was very fitting.

I didn’t do well on the ballot, only correcting predicting 8 of the 24 winners. But that’s okay. I don’t watch the Academy Awards to see how many of my favorites win. I watch because movies have been, and continue to be, such an important part of my life. They speak to me, deeply. By drawing me into the story that they weave, movies impart to me lessons for life. I watch a movie that captures me, over and over again, until there is nothing more to receive from that particular story. Some movies, like the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I’ve watched 20 or more times. With each viewing, another nugget of wisdom is uncovered, another significant truth is revealed. The Oscars honor the year’s best movies, and I watch to pay tribute as well.

I was delighted that Frozen won for best animated film. And the song from that movie, MY song for this year, Let It Go, won best song. Twelve Years a Slave took home the best picture award. I realized as I checked my ballot that I had not seen even one of the nine movies nominated for best picture. That’s unusual for me. I intend to rectify that by watching all nine films. That can be a first me in this year of firsts, one I will enjoy a great deal!