Most Oscar moments are easily condensed into clips; we saw a bunch of them last night at the show, including the infamous streaker and Cuba Gooding Jr exploding with love (that clip is less wonderful when you’re aware of his career’s future). But last night’s Oscar telecast contained what I thought might have been one of the most wonderful moments in the award show’s history, and it’s one that won’t be easily encapsulated in an out of context clip. It was the moment when John Stewart brought Marketa Irglova back on stage to deliver her acceptance speech for Best Song.
Now, I have a dog in this race. I loved Once, the movie that spawned Falling Slowly. In a sane world that film would have had three nominations, not the trio from Enchanted*, but in the end the victory is all that matters. I began pushing that film from the literal moment that I walked out of the screening room last winter – tears still on my face I pulled out my cell and began calling people to tell them I had just seen the best movie of the year so far (for me it stayed the best for the entire year). What’s amazing about the movie is how it lives inside of me – last night watching the Irglova and Glen Hansard perform the song I actually welled up and got pretty darn emotional. My friend Rachel just sat there laughing at me, but I think that Once is the kind of movie that can become a part of you. It’s the most amazing thing a film can do, but some of them have that power, to get deep into your emotional center and become its own set of stimuli and reactions. Most of the movies that do this are ones that we experienced as kids, and there’s a whole culture of people who seek to stunt their emotional growth by getting misty eyed over The Goonies. Once is a film of such simple beauty and truth that there’s no shame in being misty eyed over it. Hear that, Rachel?
The Oscar producers don’t understand really great moments, which is why Irglova was played off the stage in the first place. All they care about is famous people – George Clooney could win an Oscar and deliver a filibuster and Bil Conti wouldn’t dare raise his stick until hour six. I don’t usually mind the little people being played off – many of the tech people just can’t do public speaking. But Hansard had a great moment – ‘Make art! Make art!’ – and when he handed the mic over after about twenty eight seconds, it had been just cut off completely. Thankfully John Stewart (and the story goes, Colin Farrell, who was backstage demanding that Irglova get to speak) understands what a moment is, and Irglova got her chance to deliver her charmingly unfocused speech.
To me that moment was the highlight of the entire show – a small, unscripted bit where real emotion was allowed to shine through the glitz and pose. That moment was enough to make the other three hours and fifteen minutes worth it.
*by the way, fire whoever staged the first number, Happy Working Song. In the film the song is a parody of how Disney heroines have all the woodland creatures help them do housework; when translated to real world New York City, Amy Adams is assisted by rats, pigeons and a horde of roaches. Having Adams sing that song all by herself on that big stage made it feel like you were watching open mic night at the Winetka Community Center. She needed dancers.