by Julia Buckley
As I watched the event this year, I pondered the notion of the acceptance speech. How well did people really understand what they were supposed to do up there, and how gracious were their speeches?
All the speech books suggest that one should consider SPAM--situation, purpose, audience and method. At the Oscars, this would dictate that one would
A)be aware of their special circumstances and appropriately grateful for them, as well as remaining conscious that all of their fans are watching (situation).
B)understand that it really IS an honor to be nominated, and that their goal is to be THANKFUL. However, it is clear when people approach the mike that they have varying purposes: politics, networking, grudge-holding, Hollywood-bashing (or praising), or, as is the case of one starlet whom I particularly dislike and who tends to win OFTEN, celebrating themselves at long-winded length while ignoring the orchestra.(This particular person wasn't present this year). (purpose)
C)be conscious of both the audience in the auditorium and the audience at home. What would bore them? Is the speaker's job to entertain those people, or to try to please the people involved in his or her own film? (audience)
D)realize that a well-prepared and beautifully rendered speech is far more enjoyable than a list of names. Should they be reading the names of endless producers, directors and camera people off a little piece of paper, saying that they'll make mistakes because they haven't brought their glasses? Or should they try to entertain the audience by showing the very skills that won them the award--that is, skills in public speaking and presentation? Skills in ACTING? So often the award recipients are disappointing when they approach the microphone.
The best speeches by far are those that are truly heartfelt. Who can forget Roberto Benigni, who in his euphoria at winning walked across the seats of the auditorium and moved the audience to tears with his enthusiasm and joy?
For the reasons above, I have chosen my favorites from the 2012 Oscar speeches:
Octavia Spencer, for her sweet and genuine acceptance speech. I think she moved the entire audience to tears.
Asghar Farhadi, the director of the winning Foreign Language film; the paper he read from was forgivable because he had an important message that he wanted to make sure to translate correctly--and everyone was listening.
Michel Hazanavicius, who won a Best Director Oscar for THE ARTIST, for his heartfelt speech, in English, when he forgot the original.
And my winners for the best acceptance speeches: A TIE: the always-elegant Christopher Plummer, who acknowledged his fellow nominees AND his wife and daughter, and brought a gentleman-liness to his presentation that one does not always see in the actors of today.
And the wonderful Jean Dujardin, whose joy and sweet French accent as he accepted his best actor award for THE ARTIST, highlighted a true love of The Oscars and the silent films that inspired him.
All in all a truly fun and joyous Oscar ceremony, with some truly lovely speeches.