I want to start this off by saying, I grew up being taught that this was a more or less stupid event. I mainly look at the dresses and go, "ooh pretty." The notion that someone could pit two complete different movies with different goals against each other and say which is better is absurd. But none the less let’s start at the beginning…
-I will perpetually feel uncomfortable with spontaneous singing and dancing at the Academy Awards. We get it, the talent is there, but it will always err on the side of, "look at how cute we're being." At least this year had impressive special effects and the lyrics were well constructed.
-JK Simmons was a shoo-in for Best Supporting Actor. I didn't see Whiplash but I hear it was great. Also that guy has been in the game since 1994 and I don't think many noticed him until Spider-Man in 2002. So, awesome that he's being acknowledged now. Also his speech was essentially an ode to moms and that was cool. You go JK Simmons. (Sorry Norton, you were great. You'll get your turn).
-The Grand Budapest Hotel won Costume Design, Achievement in Make up and Hairstyling, and Best Production Design. This is the kind of stuff that Wes Anderson movies should win. Particularly with this film, I was struck by the amount of care that went into each wall’s color, each mustache, each wrinkle on each piece of fabric, and of course, how Tilda Swinton transformed effortlessly into a 90-year-old woman. If nothing else can be said of them, his movies are incredibly aesthetically pleasing.
-Ida – Best Foreign-Language film. I loved this movie and was pleased it won. Also shout out to director Pawel Pawlikowski who gave a moving, organic speech and shut down the orchestra who kept trying to shut him up, probably because America hates foreign films.
-Patricia Arquette for Boyhood – Best Supporting Actress: Probably deserved although I thought Laura Dern and Emma Stone were also great. Her speech ended in a rousing call to end the gender pay-gap leading Meryl Streep and J. Lo to get out of their seats and cheer and finger-point praise. This was cool and I was like “yeah, Patty, you do your thing.” If I sound somewhat unenthusiastic its because there is no place like Hollywood for self-congratulatory back-patting for political 101 ideas. Equal pay, what a radical idea. It’s not exactly putting yourself out there for something controversial even if it’s treated as such. But whatever, obviously ALL women should be paid equally to men, so even though it may seem dumb to have to say it, it’s still not happening, so, good on you, Patty. Then there were some complaints that she didn’t address how the pay-gap disproportionately affects women of color. And I felt like, okay. This person is given a minute-and-a-half. I don’t really think that anyone is in the position to boil down a complex social issue (particularly an actor) in that amount of time and I feel like any attention they draw to certain causes or politics is really more of a “nice gesture” than actually effective.
BUT, then Arquette had to go and give a follow up comment back stage:
“…even though we sort of feel like we have equal rights in America, right under the surface, there are huge issues that are applied that really do affect women. And it's time for all the women in America and all the men that love women, and all the gay people, and all the people of color that we've all fought for to fight for us now.”
Okay, Patty I was giving you the benefit of the doubt. Let me break this down.
1) There are gay women and there are women of color. It is not as if gay people and women of color are not affected by the pay-gap.
2) There is no real evidence to support that white, heterosexual women, have fiercely supported the fights for LBGTQ rights or POC rights and it’s bizarre to make this assumption when more likely the evidence supports the reverse.
3) Both of these communities are far from having achieved equal rights, so the idea that “we’ve done you, let’s move on now,” is even Arquette’s argument of how to go about articulating this is icky.
4) Not that I think it’s particularly comfortable to tell anyone that they need to be helping you, I certainly feel more uncomfortable with the idea of a rich, white lady telling people whose community members literally have to fear for their lives in this country, what they owe her.
I could go on about this for probably forever, but alas, the rest of the Academy Awards stand to be analyzed.