Monday, February 23, 2009


It was worth the wait. To hear two genuinely moving speeches that didn't sound too pre-rehearsed, tweaked, or edited. The rest of the Oscars had its moments, I have to admit- Tina Fey and Steve Martin should totally co-host next year's Oscars, I loved the Judd Apatow directed short with Seth Rogen and James Franco, and I hope everyone saw/heard Best Animated Short director Kunio Kato's a brilliant haiku of an acceptance speech (he thanked his pencil! And domo arigato, Mr. Roboto!) But our favorite new twist on the award ceremony was how they replaced the snippets of all the acting nominees' film with a tribute from past winners in the category. For the most part, it was a really nice touch, to be commended by the actors who had come before you, and to be given personal validation. We wondered if the past winners had written the tributes themselves; if they did, then you could tell for sure who who didn't seem to mean what they said (I'm talking to you Michael Douglas), and who did. Like Robert de Niro:
How did he do it? How for so many years did Sean Penn get all those jobs playing straight men? Being a movie star can get in the way of acting. But not for Sean. Sean Penn the actor loses himself in every role so we can discover a man named Sam, Mystic River Jimmy Markum, the surfer dude Spicoli, a dead man walking, and Harvey Milk. Sean brings the same commitment to his off-screen life; you see it when he campaigns for human rights, respectfully advises world leaders, and gently, gently reasons with the paparazzi. Tonight, it's important to be a great actor; in life, it's more important to be a great human being. That's my friend, Sean Penn.
-Robert de Niro's, 2009 Academy Awards

Sean Penn returned the gesture with an acceptance speech that had the perfect combination of graciousness, humor, self-awareness, gravitas, and political righteousness (especially in light of his role and the current status of Prop 8 in California):
You commie, homo-loving sons of a guns... I did not expect this. And I want to be very clear that I do know how hard I make it to appreciate me often. But I am touched by the appreciation and I hoped for it enough that I scribbled down the names in case you *were* commie, homo-loving sons of a guns. [thanks a bunch of people...] Finally, for those who saw the signs of hatred as our cars drove in tonight, I think it's a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren's eyes if they continue that way of support. We've got to have equal rights for everyone. And there are these last two things, I'm very very proud to live in a country that is willing to elect an elegant man as president and a country who for all its toughness creates courageous artists and this is in great due respect to all the nominees. But courageous artists who despite a sensitivity that has sometimes brought enormous challenge, Mickey Rourke rises again and he is my brother. Thank you all very much.
-Sean Penn, acceptance speech, 2009 Academy Awards

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I loved Dustin Lance Black's speech, too.