The 87th annual Academy Awards may be most notable this year for a few rather touching speeches given by first-time Oscar winners.
The 46-year-old actress’ speech, which included a bleeped-out curse, thank-you nods to cast members and her family, also was significant for its messages regarding women’s rights, equal pay and related issues. She delivered this speech, written out on a piece of paper, with increasing passion. Her most prominent lines were:
“To every woman who gave birth to every citizen and taxpayer of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”
Among those giving a standing ovation to Ms. Arquette was veteran actress Meryl Streep.
Graham Moore, who won for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Imitation Game, spoke nervously and movingly about his adolescent suicide attempt.
“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 am standing here. I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she’s weird or she’s different or she doesn’t fit in anywhere. Yes, you do. Stay weird, stay different.”
John Legend and Common, who won for Best Original Song, spoke touchingly about black male incarceration. Earlier in the evening, they performed the song “Glory,” which garnered the only Oscar award for the film Selma.
“We know that the voting rights that they fought for 50 years ago is being compromised in this country today.”
This was a reference to legislative and judicial efforts chipping away at the Civil Rights Act of 1965 and similar laws.
In addition to these three rousing speeches, Julianne Moore, who won the Best Actress award for her role in Still Alice, spoke briefly about how the film and the award bring awareness to the struggles of Alzheimer’s disease.
All these speeches were inspirational in both content and delivery. They certainly contrasted with some of the more typical speeches which were either brisk thank-you lists or the few smug speeches peppered with insider jokes.
I watched almost the whole telecast on Sunday night, and was surprised in particular by Arquette’s discussion of women’s economic rights, as well as the intimate and shocking revelations of Graham Moore’s speech. In contrast, I was annoyed by the dopey, overlong jokes of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who won Best Director for Birdman. Host Neil Patrick Harris was at times cute and enjoyable, but also annoying and stiff.