I am an avid fan of the Academy Awards. The glamour, the glitz, and most importantly the recognition it provides for amazing artists attracts me every year to sit down on my couch and watch the event. This weekend, I spent a glorious few days at home partially so that I could watch the Oscars with my mother. Around 6:00PM yesterday, we sat down for the pre-show with popcorn and settled in for the night.
Now, there’s lots I could say about the fashion at the Oscars. Yes, there are the long and involved stories about women dieting for months just to look good in a dress. Yes, we see the scary-thinness of our unrealistic beauty standards for women. Yet still, I am drawn to watching the red carpet every single year. I’ve decided that what it comes down to is every woman’s desire to dress up, look good, feel good, and show off. It’s what draws me to Regency films–elaborate balls with fabulous ballgowns. Fancy dress at its best. And that’s what the red carpet is for me.
I did have to sit through a few comments from my mother about how thin/fat people looked. One particular moment was when she said that Angelina Jolie looked pretty bad when she won her Oscar all those years ago, and that her face looked much fatter. When they cut to Angelina arriving a few seconds later, I pointed out how sickly thin she looked in explaination: “That’s because she’s so sickly thin nowadays.”
My mom also claimed that Queen Latifah (who I squeeled over when she walked onto the carpet) looked particularly good. She quickly claified saying “trim” instead of “good” and I said, “She’s always looked great. She looks like Queen Latifah to me!”
Once we got to the show (after squeeling about Tim Gunn, from Project Runway, acting as one of the three hosts of the offical Red Carpet show), we were plesantly surprised by the changes to the ceremonies. First, we should start with Hugh Jackman’s opening number, which made us laugh so hard we were crying. Next moment, they started what I hope will be a tradition of announcing the actor/actress nominees by bringing out legends in their categories, and having each legend give a beautiful speech on the talent of each particular actor/actress. We were immediately sobbing. All the actresses started to cry. It was truly a celebration of the talents of the nominees. It shifted focus from the winner, and back to the celebration of these nominees’ achievements.
As the night progressed, I don’t think I really stopped crying. It was one of the beautiful, most poignant Academy Awards I’ve ever seen.
Highlights for me included: Heath Ledger winning for Supporting Actor (a point at which I sobbed as his family accepted the award), Kate Winslet winning Best Actress (I literally WHOOP-ed and jumped up and down ’cause Kate Winslet is my Homegirl), and finally when Sean Penn won for Best Actor for his portrayal of Harvey Milk(which was unexpected, but absolutely exactly what I wanted to happen). Sean proceeded to give a beautiful speech about how equal rights are needed for all, no matter what.
Similarly, when Dustin Lance Black won for Screenplay for Milk, I almost died of joy. If anyone deserved to win, it was him. He, too, gave a beautiful speech about how he hoped won day to be able to live his life with equal rights and spoke directly to all gay and lesbian children out there, telling them that God does love them, no matter what society, their churches, families, etc. say.
The only downside of the night for me were the various hints that Hollywood is still a Boy’s Club. Of the winners, only three were women (two of which were for the Actress categories). The only woman to win from outside of an all-female category was Megan Mylan for “Smile Pinki,” a documentary short. Penelope Cruz, and Kate Winslet were the other female winners.
One instance of this bias also showed itself on the Red Carpet. Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens were walking the Carpet separetly, and doing interviews one right after another. Ryan Seacrest interviewd Zac first, asking him what he was doing in the show, and what his next project was. Five seconds later, he turned to Vanessa and started their interview by asking “Who are you wearing?” They then proceeded to discuss the dress, and what she was doing in the award show, before moving on. Ryan didn’t ask Vanessa what her next project was, or really any semi-relevant question. It was all fluff.
I’m trying not to let this stuff darken my impression of the whole show, but I think everyone needs to take note. It’s one of my most far out dreams to one day stand on that stage and accept an award for a film I’ve made. I can only hope that as a woman, I’ll be given that opportunity.
So, in sum, there were some incredibly beautiful and inspiring moments that restored some of my faith in humanity. Let’s hope next year, they can do it again.