"ELOQUENCE is a painting of the thoughts," said Pascal.
•WELL, many of Sunday night's Oscar winners dipped brushes into their palette and came up with some of the most exquisitely touching and meaningful speeches of any Oscar telecast.
I don't think there was a bad one. And there was one quite funny entry -- the songwriting team who rhymed all the names of all the people they thanked.
But special note has to be made of Jared Leto (Best Supporting Actor), Lupita Nyong'o (Best Supporting Actress), Cate Blanchett (Best Actress) and the always on fire Matthew McConaughey.
Leto, who is now looking exactly like the beautiful, inaccurate depictions of Jesus, was moving in his tribute to his mother and recognition of all those who have fought and continue to fight for their right to love and to be...Lupita is grace itself; beaming, elegant, astonishingly composed, but deeply humbled...I loved Blanchett acknowledging "how random and subjective" the awards are, her decisive compliments to her director Woody Allen and recognition of brilliant co-star Sally Hawkins. Plus her clarion call to the industry that "women's films" are back, and profitable. "The world is round, people!" she concluded.
Matthew didn't reference outer space this time, as he did at the Golden Globes, but he got in his parents, God, heroes and his signature, "Alright, Alright, Alright" from Dazed and Confused. Amazing, the career road he has traveled in 24 months!
•THE SHOW? The staging was tacky -- what was with those big plastic-looking Oscars looming onstage? It was perhaps the least glamorous looking Oscar show in recent memory. Ah, but the host, Ellen DeGeneres, made up for what was not happening behind her.
Her gentle humor, poking delicately at egos, her understated Everywoman vibe, is really perfect for this job. She knows how to make a smart point without clobbering you over the head, and her vague, human indecision and hesitation at times (carefully thought out, of course) is most endearing. Julia Roberts clearly adored Ellen. Liza Minnelli did not.
But who couldn't love the pizza bit?
•THE WINS? IN the major categories, the ones we really care about, there was an embarrassment of riches this year, so it is difficult to complain.
However, I think the Academy could have waited a year or two on Lupita. She is a girl with a future. Her performance was searing, but to be honest I wouldn't have been unhappy to see June Squibb from Nebraska take it. Hers was a great turn, and it's unlikely she'll have another grab at the gold ring. (June was the original Miss Electra in the first Broadway production of Gypsy!)
Without dismissing fine Lupita's work, almost everybody agrees she won her Oscar because she showed up at every event, beautifully dressed, marvelously smart and composed, a new iconic face and form. So often the Academy just can't help being obvious.
And on this subject, or around it: Isn't it time the movie industry truly began fashioning award-winning roles and films for African American actors that don't involve subjugation in one form or another -- slaves, butlers, maids, chauffeurs, molested women, kooky psychics. Sidney Poitier, who appeared on the Oscar telecast Sunday night, was criticized and rejected by many of his own because his film portrayals were seen as "too idealized." Perhaps in some cases they were (Guess Who's Coming To Dinner.) But white people are idealized all the time on screen. What was wrong with that? It's the movies!
This is why the films of Tyler Perry, who presented on Oscar night -- imperfect as they are in some ways -- are important. Perry's over-long dramedys, often including the comic relief of his "Madea" character, show a wide range of black people -- good, bad, doctors, lawyers, chaste women and woman who are chased (and willingly caught). They are glossy soap operas with big dollops of religion, morality, every conceivable emotion and endings that are often ambiguous. Tyler also, is criticized for "elevating" African Americans too high -- this generally comes from white people who are going to make sure that when Barack Obama leaves office, all traces of him will be erased. Just like the ancient Egyptians chipped away the faces and names of previous Pharaohs, when a new ruler arrived.
This is why I recently called upon Oprah to continue her movie career, but to make choices that reflect the 21st century. Every group who is still discriminated against has a long way to go. Prejudice -- like cockroaches and Cher -- will survive a nuclear holocaust. The movies could help us along.
And as good a movie as The Dallas Buyers Club is-- and as deeply touching the performances are -- I am awaiting a movie about homosexuals that doesn't include AIDS, unhappy closeted people, people who die at the end, walk away alone at the end or end up not gay at all.
•OH, and I was happy to see Kim Novak, a genuine Hollywood legend, onstage. Long out of the scene -- and never comfortable in it -- Kim was gracious enough to thank the Academy for inviting her. The audience could at least have had the class to stand for the 81-year-old icon.
Matthew McConaughey's solicitude and respect while presenting with Kim, showed him to be the great gent he is.
•FINAL THOUGHTS: Although "Over the Rainbow" can belong to no one else other than the great Judy, Pink did a masterful job on the song in the Wizard of Oz tribute. I always feel Pink should be a bigger star. She has a truly great voice...Bette Midler, graceful, brilliant, a real artist, wrung every ounce of emotion she could muster on "Wind Beneath My Wings"...And, finally, what is with this business of giving honorary awards in advance, at a separate ceremony? Who wouldn't have wanted to see Steve Martin, Angelina Jolie or Angela Lansbury right there on stage? I think some of the technical awards could be excised from the telecast, to make room for real live legends.
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