When the Oscars has better musical performances than the Grammys did, then something is probably wrong.
Anybody who has followed the awards season should not have been surprised by yesterday’s Academy Awards results. Birdman was the heavy favorite to win Best Picture, and the acting awards were virtual locks, with the exception being Best Male Actor in a Leading Role, which was thought to be a deadlock between Eddie Redmayne and Michael Keaton.
Redmayne had the jaw dropping performance as the ALS-ridden physics mastermind Stephen Hawking, but Keaton had the whole washed-up-actor-reviving-his-career appeal on his side.
But people don’t watch the Oscars to see who wins the awards. They watch because the Oscars makes up like 25 percent of the year’s pop culture. It’s one of the most watched programs in the world, and by missing it you’re basically isolating yourself from workplace conversation for the next week.
But that being said, there’s always some humorous and entertaining things that happen at these ceremonies that people are also on the lookout for. Like John Travolta and Idina Menzel poking some fun at the former’s verbal faux pas a year ago. And host Neil Patrick Harris walking on stage in tighty wighties as an homage to a scene from Birdman.
But what I appreciate about the Oscars are something most people don’t: the acceptance speeches. For some viewers, it’s an automatic channel change. But what I like most is the emotion that comes with winning an Oscar, combined with standing on that stage with the ultimate platform to speak, and just being in the moment. What can you possibly say? Every one is listening. So you can say anything and be heard. Anything.
Some people will give contrived speeches they clearly rehearsed for hours. Others will read off a sheet. Most will try to be politically correct. But some, like Graham Moore, will speak from the heart. In case you missed it, the screenwriter, who won for writing The Imitation Game, said, “When I was 16 years old, I tried to kill myself, because I felt weird and I felt different and I felt like I did not belong. And now I’m standing here. So I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels likes she’s weird, or she’s different and she doesn’t fit in anywhere. Yes you do. I promise you do. Stay weird, stay different, and then when it’s your turn, and you’re standing on this stage, please pass this message to the next person that comes along.”
Some really powerful stuff. Of course, another poignant moment was a performance by Lonnie Lynn and John Stephens — also known as Common and John Legend — of “Glory” from the movie Selma. It’s an extremely emotional and affecting song, and it wasn’t surprising when the camera cut to David Oyelewo, who played Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the movie, in tears. But then they cut to Chris Pine who was also bawling, which, I’m sorry, was pretty funny. And thanks to that emotion, his heartthrob meter among women probably increased tenfold. Damn you Pine for showing your sensitive side.
It was one many enjoyable musical performances on the night, including one by Tim McGraw and another by Tegan Sara with the Lonely Island (no, that’s not a joke), but the one who stole the show was Lady Gaga.
The renowned singer has been very widely hailed, as well as criticized, for various things in her career, but I can’t imagine that there’s a single soul in the world who didn’t love her performance last night. She paid tribute to the 50th anniversary of The Sound of Music by singing a medley of songs from the classical musical, and she sounded terrific. And even better, she looked normal. Even, dare I say, beautiful. There was no gimmicks, no shenanigans. Just a talented woman, in a dazzling dress, singing like she’s a fairy tale princess.
Lady Gaga, you won America’s heart last night.
You the real MVP.