Goodness, this is so unexpected! First of all I’d like to thank Sean Penn, for infamously opening his acceptance speech for Milk in 2009 with the words “You Commie, homo-loving sons of guns!” For teaching us that it is neither cute nor funny to reference how much your partner loves sleeping with you, I thank Natalie Portman. Everyone can see that you’re pregnant, Natalie – we assumed he must enjoy sleeping with you.
I thank Mickey Rourke for his shambolic performance at the Independent Spirit Awards in 2009, ploughing through the names of everyone he’s ever worked with, leaving in his wake a trail of destruction that included appealing to the audience to remind him of the name of his co-star, insulting his publicist (“You can go back to the farm soon, Paula…”) and tearfully dedicating the award to his dead dog. Quite frankly it couldn’t have been much worse, Mickey, if you’d mounted the stage dressed as Randy Robinson and punched Philip Seymour Hoffman in the face.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s always nice to see a ceremony, and a speech, that goes against the polished Oscar night conventions. For example, I would love it if more actors dared to accept awards in character. Bill Murray did once accept an award dressed in his Ghostbusters costume, but then again it was the Scream awards – in a venue full of people doused in fake blood, sporting Freddie Kruger-esque blades for fingers and prosthetics that make them look like an audience of decomposing zombies. He would have looked like an idiot in Armani.
For consistently charming displays on awards nights, I’d like to thank Colin Firth. Since A Single Man, images of him happily brandishing BAFTAs and Golden Globes seem to be popping up everywhere. When he’s not stuttering away on screen, Firth is uniquely witty, always very British, and consistently refers lovingly to his wife. This brings me to the precarious issue of thanking one’s significant other in the heat of the acceptance speech. Cheesy? Yes. Cringe-worthy? Oh yes. Politicians do it to try and remind us (or deceive us into thinking) that they are in fact human. Actors do it either because a huge part of the creative experience in portraying realistic characters comes from experiencing those emotions yourself – love and the complexity of human relationships being integral to almost every film ever made. Or they might be highlighting the fact that they’re not available to help stave off the swarms of squealing fan girls: I’m not sure which.
Who else is there? Ah, I’d also like to heartily thank whoever’s idea it was to start doing those obsequious introductions by previous Best Actor and Actress winners – these are so painful to watch that by the time they’ve finished dribbling their admiration all over the stage, anything the winner says sounds like a public address of Barack Obama standards. That being said, I think most politicians could learn a lot from the raw delivery style of the aforementioned Mr. Rourke. “Thanks for the money” may not be the best way to apologise for the expenses scandal, but at least that way no one could accuse them of being dishonest. I’m reminded once more of Bill Murray and his statement after winning a Golden Globe for Lost in Translation: “I would thank the people at Universal and Focus, except there’s so many people trying to take credit for this, I wouldn’t know where to begin.” Ouch.
However, like politicians, what most winners say and what they actually mean can be very different. “I want to share this with my fellow nominees” frequently comes across as, “Clearly, none of you are as immensely talented as me.” “This has been an amazing year for women’s roles” means “Slightly fewer of us have had to play bimbos or prostitutes,” and “Working with you was an experience I’ll never forget,” loosely translates as “You made me lose weight/change sex/gain weight/cut my hair/practice kung fu for ten hours a day/take off my clothes. Thanks a lot.”
And for consistently providing Family Guy with enough material to parody it, finally I’d like to thank the Academy. Thank you, and God bless!