Don’t believe the naysayers who have spent the last 24 hours telling everyone how awful the Oscars were this year. The Oscars were great. The Oscars are always great. No matter if the show runs 5 hours and they do 15 movie retrospectives. (Which they didn’t this year, by the way. The show came in at an incredibly short 3 hours and 10 minutes.) No matter if the hosts are funny or not. Even Rob Lowe singing with Cinderella is ok with me. And do you know why the Oscars are always great? Because we get to see people recognized for their achievements. And yes, I know all about the politics of the movies and the inequalities due to the millions spent promoting some films while others are all but ignored. On Oscar night, none of that matters. Because even though there are a lot of actors out there who are just as brilliant as the nominees, every nominee is deserving.
The bottom line is, I love to watch people win. The only bad thing about the Oscars is that they don’t give the technical merit awards on the televised broadcast. Hey, I want to see the guy win for developing a new kind of winch that makes it easier to move really heavy objects! That stuff is just as important as Sound Editing or Art Direction. It doesn’t matter to me that I have never heard of any of the technical merit nominees. I want to see the guy I’ve never heard of walk up and talk about how he’s loved the movies since he was a kid, and his Dad the mechanic taught him all about pulleys and winches and made him believe that he could do anything.
This year my favorite televised moments began with Christian Bale, one of those usually overlooked actors who has a reputation of being difficult on set, thanking everyone and then getting emotional when he thanked his wife and daughter. And then the guy who won Best Original Screenplay, who had to be in his 70’s at least, saying that his Dad always told him he’d be a late bloomer. (It was his first ever nomination.) And Randy Newman, who got his 20th nomination this year but only his second win; Best Song for Toy Story 3, saying he’s been at the nominee’s party so many times they’ve named a chicken dish after him. And Anne Hathaway singing to Hugh Jackman and clearly enjoying herself all evening, even though the pundits are yapping about what a terrible host she was.
And then there was Robert Downey Jr., who could have easily self-destructed in the late 90’s through his addictions (kind of like Charlie Sheen seems to be doing now) but who got his life back on track. And now he is at the pinnacle and can look back and laugh at himself, and we laugh along with him because we are so relieved that he is still around and didn’t become one of the Hollywood tragedies. And the guy who directed Toy Story 3 thanking his Grandmother, who, he said, always insisted she’d see him up there (winning the Oscar) someday. And beautiful, classy Sandra Bullock, who went through a personal hell last year after winning Best Actress, but handled it all with such grace that it was an object lesson in dealing with adversity while in the public eye.
And there were the kids from PS122 on Staten Island who closed the show by singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow in beautiful 3 part harmony and were then joined on stage by all the winners.
And Colin Firth, and Melissa Leo, and Natalie Portman and Tom Hooper who won Best Director for The Kings Speech, and Luke Matheny, an NYU film student who won Best Live Action Short and thanked his Mom for providing craft services (that means food).
It’s all great. All the emotion, the little stories, the laughs, the gaffes. I sat with Maya through the whole show, which she now loves almost as much as I do. It’s inspiring to watch artists win; composers and actors and writers and tech-nerds. It’s not about the dresses that were worn or the funky beards or hairstyles. It’s about people who truly love what they do being recognized for that.
And so today we tackled hobbies with a new burst of energy. Maya and Ben created short films which they edited with glee on iMovie. I went back to some fiction that had been shelved for months, the words of the Oscar winning “late bloomer” ringing in my ears.
One of the winners, I forget who, told his daughter to find something she loved to do and never give up. Words to live by, even if they don’t lead to Oscar gold.