This year's Oscars fielded a wealth of meaningful and moving films. The culmination was the awarding of Twelve Years a Slave as Best Picture of the Year. It documented a shameful period in our history as well as chronicling one man's drive and determination to emerge triumphantly from a great miscarriage of justice that was a symbolic microcosm of that era.
If you saw none of the films but watched the Oscars, you could not help but notice and be moved by the spirit of optimism and positivity that was pervasive throughout the ceremony.
Early on, Lupita Nyong'o ended her Best Supporting Actress award speech with the words, "No matter where you are from, your dreams are valid." Born in 1983 with a mere four film credits, she made an empowering and validating statement we should all take to heart. It was a fitting declaration from the Twelve Years a Slave actress.
Our dreams, aspirations and desires are legitimate. Implicit in Ms. Nyong's statement can be interpreted the reminder that we should never let anyone dictate to us. We control our lives.
June Squibb, born in 1929, was also nominated in the Best Actress category. Although active in theater and on stage, she did not appear before a movie camera until she was over 60 years old -- a great performance and perhaps an even greater personal victory. Yet another example of what can be achieved when you have the drive.
As always, we were informed of many of those that passed on in the last year. Some were names that could not help but evoke fond memories.
Virtually all Baby Boomers grew up with Annette Funicello, watching her ever since she first donned her "Mickey Mouse Club" t-shirt. Harold Ramis came onto the radar in our 20s and 30s when he wrote the movie Animal House. Subsequent films including Ghost Busters and Caddyshack are familiar favorites to many.
Although more critically acclaimed actors like Peter O'Toole died this past year, we tend to reflect on our mortality when we lose those closest to our generation.
Bette Midller born on December 1, 1945, thirty days shy of being an "official" Baby Boomer sang "Wind Beneath My Wings" as a tribute immediately following the memorial. Once again, an example of being active and out there as she received a standing ovation for her performance.
Kristen Anderson-Lopez won best original song alongside her husband for "Let It Go." She ended her acceptance speech with words directed at her children. "Never let fear or shame keep you from celebrating the unique people you are." Moving words and a lesson for us all.
Rejoice in life, let go of what hinders and holds you back. Embrace the future.
And if all of the above doesn't motivate you to introspect, make choices and take chances, there was one more win that slipped by too quickly.
The award for Best Documentary Short Subject went to The Lady In Number 6: Music Saved My Life. Mention was made in the acceptance speech that the subject of the documentary Alice Herz-Sommer died last week at the age of 110. What wasn't referred to was that she had been the oldest living Holocaust survivor.
This is a short film that should be seen for many reasons, one being the power of indomitable spirit! So much can be learned from the life of this great woman.
Something else we should all consider:
No matter how hard we work or strive attaining wealth and power there is more to life. Brad Pitt serves as a great example. Surely he has fame, money and incredible Hollywood influence. He can virtually write his own ticket and star in any mass appeal film. Yet he took the risk, time and effort to ensure that as important a social vehicle as "Twelve Years a Slave" was produced. Look how it paid off, not just financially, but as a legacy of Hollywood's power to touch us all.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this piece you need not have seen any of the Oscar nominated films. So what then is the take away from the 2014 Oscars?
Food for thought. We don't know how long we have in our present incarnation, so let's make the most of it. Whether it's shoring up our family relations, reaching out and helping others, making the world a better place, or giving ourselves a swift kick in the seat of the pants... there's no time like the present to evaluate our lives and venture forth unafraid and explore bold new horizons!
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