The Oscars. The glitz, the glam, the carpet, the stars. The wardrobe malfunctions, the obvious disasters and the stand out masters. The snubbed, the scorned, the honoured and the praised. The speeches, the play offs, the dedications, the tears. The triumphs, the laughs, the talent, the fame. The Oscars… Hollywood’s best damn game.
I remember when I was too young to stay up to hear the big winners of the Academy Awards. Being sent to bed before Best Picture was announced was naturally the biggest struggle of my young life. Sneaking back into the loungeroom to hear the winner however, was an even bigger struggle.
With the Oscars ceremony of 2017 being behind us, let us pay tribute and glance back at a few winners and the memorable moments of (let’s be honest) the best night of the year.
When you hear the title Gone with the Wind, you may hear the beautiful orchestral score, swoon at Rhett Butler’s every word (maybe that’s just me) or admire Scarlett’s grit as she proclaims that “tomorrow is another day!” (what a gal). However, the movie did more than just break box office records. History was made when Hattie McDaniel became the first African American to win an Oscar for her performance as Mammy, the sassy, loveable maid to our favourite empowered diva, Scarlett O’Hara. The video reel of the night shows just how moved she was, on what she described as the “happiest day of [her] life”.
Shout out to Kathryn Bigelow, for becoming the first and ONLY female (so far) to be awarded the Oscar for Best Director in 2008 for her work on Hurt Locker. Presenter Barbara Streisand summed it up nicely – “Well, the time has come.” Damn straight! Maybe the time of woman ruling the world will come soon too…all we need is the Jurassic Park theory of Evolution- “God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs. Dinosaurs eat man. Woman inherits the earth”
Who didn’t get the warm and fuzzies when Charlie Chaplin, our favourite tramp, was presented with the honorary Award in 1972? The audience greeted him with a 12-minute standing ovation. And why is that? Because “Chaplin has become more than a name, it is a word in the vocabulary of films, and anyone who has ever seen a movie, is in his debt”.
Marlon Brando, winning the 1973 Oscar for his performance in The Godfather was the first (of many to come) to use the night as a political platform. Sending Native American activist, Sacheen Littlefeather on his behalf, he refused to accept the Oscar due to the treatment of Native Americans, believing that “it was a marvelous opportunity for an Indian to be able to voice his opinion to 85 million people.”
Whose heart didn’t break when they announced Heath Ledger as the winner of best Supporting Actor in 2009 for his memorable performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight? The audience’s faces said it all. The standing ovation and applause were Hollywood celebrating a life, and a talent that will never be forgotten.
Louis Fletcher had us weeping when accepting her Oscar for Best Actress in 1976 for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest when she used sign language to thank her parents at home – “For my Mother and my father, I want to say thank you for teaching me to have a dream. You are seeing my dream come true”
To Melissa Leo, winning best supporting actress in 2011 for The Fighter, bravo on being the first person in the 82 years of Oscar history to drop the ‘F- bomb’. It was a priceless.
I think every Hobbit, Elf, Dwarf, Wizard, Man and fan-boy/girl who walked the Earth celebrated when Peter Jackson’s The Lord of The Rings, The Return of The King won not just 11 Oscars, but won the big one, Best Picture, in 2004, since sci-fi and fantasy films are often snubbed for such titles.
Watching Roberto Benigni win the Oscar for best Foreign film in 1999 truly made life seem ‘beautiful’. Leaping over the top of seats and stars he ran and jumped to the stage to receive his Oscar. While others have nothing to say, too much to say, or simply don’t know what to say, Benigni’s speech was somewhere in the middle of all of them. He yelled, “I want to kiss everybody because you are the makers of this joy!”.
Jennifer Lawrence won the hearts of the universe by asking where the food was kept on the red carpet, by being gob-smacked by the stars around her, and by being the first person to trip up the stairs to receive her Oscar for Best Actress in 2013. Jennifer, this makes you one of my idols. You topped the night off perfectly with your line “you guys are just standing because you feel bad that I fell.”
It wouldn’t be an Oscars without Jack Nicholson, would it? He never fails to be seated in the front, wearing black sunglasses, sneaking up on stars and cracking jokes with the smile that occasionally (always) makes you laugh uncomfortably. I don’t know how or why you do it, but thank you anyway.
The Oscars will always be a night of wonder, one that paves the way for new films and new artists waiting to share their stories and talent…and occasionally awkward acceptance speeches that we all fast-forward through (throwback to the year they used the Jaws theme music to get them moving.)
In the words of Steven Spielberg, “Every time I go to a movie, it’s magic, no matter what the movie’s about”.
Like millions of others, I will be tuning in to celebrate the magic of the movies, being thankful I can stay up till the end, sharing a drink or two with my mate Nicholson.