In the Suburbs / Inspiration showcased by moving words at Oscars
Updated 9:01 am, Sunday, March 9, 2014
"It doesn't escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to the pain in someone else's."
-- Lupita Nyong'o
Best Supporting Actress
2014 Academy Awards
After winning this year's Oscar for her performance in "12 Years a Slave," Lupita Nyong'o's acceptance speech was so moving that there wasn't a dry eye in my house. Filled with emotion, the actress focused on her character, Patsey, the young slave who endured so much.
"And so I want to salute the spirit of Patsey for her guidance," Nyong'o said. "And for Solomon (the slave whose story the movie chronicled), thank you for telling her story and your own."
Nyong'o wasn't the only honoree who captivated the audience at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood and millions of TV viewers There were many memorable moments. Each of the top-acting honorees and Steve McQueen, director of Best Picture "12 Years a Slave" offered special words.
So I researched each of the speeches to share some of those powerful and touching messages.
Spencer Kornhaber, of The Atlantic, wrote that the Oscars were more special this year. He said there were "moments when it seemed like the relationship between Hollywood and the wider world consist of something more than exploitation and snickering. For example, it was nice to see the actual Philomena and Captain Phillips in the audience ... When the best Feature Documentary statue went to "20 Feet from Stardom," which is about the plight of undercredited backup singers on classic songs, the film's producers did what too few others had done for their subject Darlene Love: Let her take the spotlight."
Jared Leto won Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his portrayal of the transgender Rayon in "Dallas Buyers Club." He began by speaking about a high school dropout in 1971, his mother, who "somehow managed to make a better life for herself and her children ... Thank you for teaching me to dream ... To all the dreamers out there ... watching this tonight in places like the Ukraine and Venezuela ... we are here and as you struggle to make your dreams happen, to live the impossible. ... We're thinking of you tonight.
But Leto really nailed the message with his closing comments. "And this is for the 36 million people who have lost the battle to AIDS and to those of you out there who have ever felt injustice because of who you are or who you love. Tonight I stand here in front of the world with you and for you."
Matthew McConaughey seemed humble and sincere in accepting his Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his portrayal of a Texan diagnosed with AIDS in "Dallas Buyers Club."
According to Entertainment Weekly, "Running over three minutes, the Best Actor acceptance speech was a monument of pure unfiltered McConaughey-ness. He thanked God. He thanked his late father: `I know he's up there right now, with a big pot of gumbo ... he's probably in his underwear, and he's got a cold can of Miller Lite, and he's dancin'.' He went on a very long tangent about how his hero is himself -- or rather, "Me in 10 years!" And then he said it: `All right all right all right.' Good? Bad? Such qualitative judgments don't apply. This was McConaughey. This was America. This was 2014."
For Cate Blanchett, winner of the Best Actress in a Leading Role for the Woody Allen film "Blue Jasmine," her message was about the importance of women's films. Blanchett said thank you to producers "for so bravely and intelligently distributing the film and to the audiences who went to see it and perhaps those of us in the industry who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films with women at the center are niche experiences. They are not. Audiences want to see them and, in fact, they earn money. The world is round, people."
In accepting the Best Picture award for "12 Years a Slave," Steve McQueen wrapped up the Oscars with powerful words. "Everyone deserves not just to survive, but to live ... I dedicate this award to all the people who have endured slavery. And the 21 million people who still suffer slavery today."
This Oscar night was one I will always remember.
Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his "In the Suburbs" appears each Friday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.