Backstage you could hear some boisterous buddies in the ballroom and the TV audience probably could as well, but what you didn’t see or hear were some celebrities putting journalists in their place and some heartfelt explanations, gratefulness that ageism against women is weakening and an f-bomb apology.
The F-Bomb Apology
When Patricia Arquette (Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television for “Escape at Dannemora”) got on stage, she was grateful and flustered and let an f-bomb go. She did apologize backstage as well as talk about fighting against ageism (see below).
Schooling the Reporter, Part One
When a reporter asked, “How was it working with Bradley Cooper and working with him and what kind of direction did he give you if he did?,” Lady Gaga (Best Original Song – Motion Picture for “Shallow” in “A Star Is Born”) made it clear that she and her fellow song writers (Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando and Andrew Wyatt) were backstage to talk about writing a song for the movie and not her portrayal of the new star in “A Star Is Born.” She explained, “I would answer that except this is for best original song. He was incredible as a director, and I loved working with him, and he made me a better actress. But what we are really excited to be on this stage for is how much he believed in the song as a vehicle for story telling in this song.”
Schooling the Reporter, Part Two
Alfonso Cuarón (Best Motion Picture – Foreign Film and Best Director for “Roma”) seems a bit frustrated that more than one reporter attempted to make him diss Netflix. Variety claimed in its original headline that Cuarón ripped a reporter in his reply, but that wasn’t true.
On Women and Ageism in Films
Olivia Colman (Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy for “The Favourite”) was at first astounded that the reporter asking the question was 51, but said: “I have been lucky. I have always found work, and I feel very fortunate. I don’t know why, but there are more and more parts being written. The older you get, the more you have to say. Also, most the people have been in charge of the remote control are men. The women want to hear our stories. I hope I look like you at 51.”
In her acceptance speech Glenn Close (Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama for “The Wife”) remember her mother. Ageism is easy because women were once raised to submit their will and sacrifice their talents for their husbands.
Backstage Close expounded, explaining:
My mom and my dad got married when they were 18 years old. My dad went off to the war. My mom, actually, she never went to college. She started having children very early. She had a great artistic mind. She was very good at art herself.
My dad went on to be a surgeon and to really be the — she, you know — she always said I made a vow, and I am going to stay in this. I can’t say that it was fulfilling for her for the potential that she had. When she said to me, I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything, of course as her child you say no, no, no, that’s not true. You have children and we love you and you have supported your husband all these years.
But I understood what she meant because there’s another part of you that has nothing to do with who’s in your life, everything to do with what’s in your heart and what’s in your soul and what feeds you and makes you feel that you are giving an important contribution to your life. So I am holding this — I hold her in my heart. I’m very moved to get this award for this particular story for her sake.
On the changing tide for women over 40 in Hollywood, Close said:
I love what Jamie Lee Curtis said tonight. I think it is changing. The advantage of all the places where these wonderful stories are being told now is a whole different landscape. You all know that, obviously, and there’s so much content and wonderful people working across all — what is the word — I can’t think.
Yes, so I think we are getting to a point where women are taking control and developing — starting production companies and nurturing stories that will give them good roles themselves and good roles for women. And I really long for the day when it is not a woman’s movie, just a good movie, that it is not characterized by that. I am very excited about what’s to come and all the different adventures and possibilities, yes.
Taking on the women over 40 question, Patricia Arquette said:
I’m so excited about this part. I mean, I never thought I would get a part like this in middle age. I’m 50 years old. I get to play a woman without a typical body type in Hollywood, who’s a sexual person, unapologetically sexual, complicated, wants love.
And I have friends who are — who don’t have the typical body type, they’re bigger women, and one of them has said to me very clearly, hey, I really want to thank you for this project, everyone involved, because it’s the first time I as a big woman felt like I’m allowed to be a sexual being and not fetishized in a jokable way. And I think that’s important because when you look at America, that’s really America.
Ben Stiller’s Choice to Work in a Real Prison Made it Real for Arquette
Arquette became aware of the dangers, the darkness and the depression.
It was really interesting. The woman who took over for my character, Tilly, Joyce, in the tailor shop, they brought us supplies in the tailor shop while the prisoners were in there walking around with shears and equipment. They said once we bring you in one way, we have to take you out, we can’t bring you back through because they could take you hostage or something.
And the woman who was charged to run the shop after Joyce took us to the backroom where they supposedly had this affair. And then a couple weeks later she got arrested for having an affair in that same backroom.
And what you felt being in that prison — first of all, that prison was built at the turn of the century. You’re walking down halls and they’re, like, dead ends. And you have no idea what’s around the corner. It’s really cold in the winter. There’s people with untreated mental illness. It is scary to work in there, and it’s scary to be a prisoner in there. And you start to see how important this kind of web of survival becomes between all of you.
And every guard I talked to in there was saying — or a person who worked there, I’m counting the days until my retirement. I’m in this for my retirement.
And this whole building was looming in the middle of this town and the whole main street was closed down and all the industry was gone and they were all depending on this prison.
And just looking at a prison complex in America and the intensity of the prison system on everybody involved was really interesting.
Close’s Advice to Women
Responding to the question of who women should begin to broaden their interests Close commented:
Obviously it would entail evaluating their relationship and how fulfilled they feel. I think if you, of course, men want to support — I think it starts with real self-reflection. And then you have to figure out how to articulate what your dreams are. I am talking about people who have been in a certain life for a certain amount of time. It is not too late. It is not too late to follow your dream, and hopefully find support in that with people who love you.
So a Seance Was Held?
Mahershala Ali (Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture for “Green Book”) demurred and politely didn’t correct a reporter who asked: “I’m wondering how it feels to win knowing that Dr. Shirley has objected to the film?” Don Shirley died in 2013; he did know that a movie was planned. We don’t know how Shirley felt about the movie. We do know some of his relatives objected.
Well I will say this: That my job is always the same. I have to look at what I’m responsible for doing, and all the prayers and energy and time and work, like I’m not one who is going to necessarily throw all that away over things that I have no control over and have nothing to do with.
So I respect the family. I respect Dr. Shirley and his family, and I wish them well. I have a job to do and I have to continue to do my job as I move on to my next project and treat everyone that I work with with respect. And in this case, I didn’t know that they were around. I made contact and I have spoken to the studio and everyone. And I have to move on at this point. But I do wish them well. At the end of the day you wish everybody was happy in any situation. You don’t want anybody to be upset about anything or be offended in any capacity.
So I wish them well and send them my love.
Film Twitter and Octavia Spencer: Token Black?
Film Twitter was full of comments declaring how Octavia Spencer (one of the executive producers of “Green Book” which won Best Screenplay – Motion Picture and Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy) must feel by seeing her body language on stage. Octavia Spencer spoke about her involvement in “Green Book,” saying:
Jonathan King and I did “The Help” together. For those of you who don’t realize how much the conversations about diversity and the effects they are having across this industry, Jonathan King said we don’t have anybody from the South.
We don’t have a perspective that is as unique as yours, would you mind reading the script to see if you want to be involved?
I applaud him for that type of envision. I applaud Pete for welcoming me into the fold. When I read the script, I am going to be really honest with you, I said to Jonathan, I don’t know — really know how I can help you because I think you have two very strong leads and if they are weighing in on this, because it felt really good to me when I read it, I don’t know how I could help you.
Then Pete and I had a lot of conversations about a lot of different things, and I felt that I could be a sounding board for him. I love this film and script. I think they did an amazing job, and I am thrilled to be here tonight.
Octavia Spencer Takes the Don Shirley Family Question
Spencer also replied to a question about Don Shirley’s family “who disapproved of the film,” commenting:
You know what, I’m a little troubled answering that question because — so what I would like to say in lieu of anything directly to the Shirley family is what it meant for me because I have been a part of four films from this era. So for me it was about the idea that there were people like Don Shirley in the ’60s and we never saw that on the film. So that’s what I took from it and what I still take from it.
I think Pete and Nick and Mahershala and Viggo and all of the filmmakers were putting their hearts into it. That’s what I would say to the Shirley family. He meant a lot to a lot of people, and I am glad that I got to share that story.
The Darren Criss Diversity Question Goes to Ben Whishaw
The reporter’s question was: “Darren Criss recently said that he didn’t want to play a gay character because he didn’t want to take a queer part away from a queer actor. Do you think that actors should only play parts that they represent, that is representative of their own experience and character? What are your thoughts?”
Ben Whishaw (Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Limited Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television for “A Very English Scandal”) replied: ” I really believe that it’s — actors can embody and portray anything, and we shouldn’t be defined only by what we are….On the other hand, I think there needs to be greater equality. I mean, I would like to see more gay actors playing straight roles. I’d like to see all sorts of things. You know, it should be an even playing field for everybody. That would be my ideal. I don’t know how far we are away from that, but that’s where we should be, I think.”
Arquette on Growing Diversity
Asked if she felt Hollywood was making progress in “giving women and minorities a position in front of the camera, Arquette responded:
Well, I am really glad to see that some of these films are giving them opportunities, and I think Hollywood always responds when they see a — so much revenue coming from them. So I think diversity is definitely starting to pay off for Hollywood and it probably always would have, so I’m hoping to see more of a trend towards that.
But it’s not just Hollywood. When I was talking about equal pay, I was talking about 98 percent of all industries. We have a lot of moms out there that are sole breadwinners or primary breadwinners for families, so we have to look at equal pay and opportunity and being in the boardroom and managerial positions and decision making decisions across the board.
And I am excited about how many women we have coming into the House and government in more positions of power.
I hope in the future — when I grew up and somebody asked me a riddle and they said you’re injured in an accident and the doctor comes in and says this, I would always assume that doctor was a man when I was a little girl. So I’m hoping the world is changing so that we can see senators and we see directors and VPs as women as well.
Regina King made a diversity challenge when she accepted her Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture for “If Beale Street Could Talk” but did not come backstage.
Reporters Burned by Carol Burnett No Show Backstage
There’s always a chance the special honorees won’t show up backstage. They aren’t campaigning for an Oscar or Emmy. Yet when the sign went up announcing honoree Carol Burnett was coming backstage, the journalists perked up only to sag with disappointment when by the end of the night it became clear Burnett would not be coming backstage
Who Doesn’t Love Dick Van Dyke?
When Dick Van Dyke came out on stage as an presenter there was an aura of appreciation and awe in the ballroom and backstage. He’s one of the best things in “Mary Poppins Returns.”
So Much for Pundit Predictions
The audience backstage gasped when “Bohemian Rhapsody” was announced as Best Motion Picture – Drama, beating out the favorite (not “The Favorite”) “A Star Is Born.”
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