If you have read my previous article, I talked about J. K. Simmons’ amazing Oscar win for Whiplash, but I only knew about the whole thing via my Twitter feed. Since then, I’ve had a chance to watch a rerun of the ceremony, and one thing I noticed is that the Oscar speeches — more than just thanking the cast, crew, and family members — were inspiring platforms for activism.
Winners for the category Documentary Short Subject for Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1, Ellen Goosenberg Kent and Dana Perry, received their award and gave speeches about how the people behind crisis hotlines have helped numerous veterans and veteran families who have asked for help. Dana Perry also talked about the death of her son to suicide and that the issue should be talked about more.
When Patricia Arquette won her Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Boyhood, she took the time to talk about bringing ecological sanitation to the developing world and most especially emphasized the call for women’s rights and wage inequality in the US.
Winners for best Original Song for Selma, John Legend and Common, talked about the events 50 years ago in Selma and that Dr. Martin Luther King’s fight for equality transcends race, gender, sexual orientation, and religion. John Legend proceeded to say that the fight against racial indifference still lives on today, with more black men under correctional control in this generation than when they were under slavery in 1850. Both Oscar winners expressed the hope that this song would serve as an inspiration for those fighting the fight.
Graham Moore, scriptwriter for The Imitation Game, won for Best Adapted Screenplay and focused on how Alan Turing didn’t get the chance to meet such amazing people who accepted his story. He also focused on the time when he was 16 and tried to kill himself but decided on living. “Stay weird, stay different,” he said.
The award for Best Actor in a Leading Role went to the adorable and wildly talented Eddie Redmayne for his role as Dr. Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. He thanked Dr. Hawking and Jane’s family, who have shared their story with people through the film, and he dedicated his win to the people around the world who are battling ALS.
Julianne Moore, who won an Oscar for Best Actress for her role in Still Alice, shared how she had hoped that the movie would shine a light on people going through Alzheimer’s disease and their feelings of being marginalized by society for their disease. “People with Alzheimer’s deserve to be seen so we can find a cure,” she said in her speech.
Finally, after winning an Oscar for Best Picture, the Birdman cast and crew went up on the stage and thanked everyone who supported their movie. Director Alejandro G. Iñárritu, who also won for Best Director, started to talk about his countrymen in Mexico, saying, “I pray that we can find and build the government that we deserve.”
These were indeed diverse speeches represented at the Oscars, and I see the awards ceremony as a platform to be able to support these important ideals and turn them into reality or (if they’re currently being realized) to help them reach their truest potential. All we can wish for — with the hope that more diversity will come as a result of this year’s Academy Awards — is that next year will have as much passion and vibrancy with speeches designed to break molds and challenge thoughts.