Lessons from the Oscars

Make Your 15 Seconds Count

Academy Award acceptance speeches have long been used by Hollywood stars to raise awareness of favored causes.  The much-deserving top actress honorees both seized the opportunity before a worldwide audience.   A comparison of the performances of Julianne Moore and Patricia Arquette reveals a sharp contrast in technique.

Best supporting actress Patricia Arquette’s passion was palpable but her prose was problematic.  The shout out for women’s equal rights garnered a fist pump from Meryl Streep and wild applause from the glittering crowd.  But, her call to action would have been more effective if she hadn’t been so rushed and jumbled.  See the video clip.

The 60 seconds before the cut off music played should have been enough time to say something but it wasn’t enough to say everything.  Arquette hurriedly thanked colleagues and loved ones.  The list of names on crumpled paper was followed by a plug for an organization that provides ecological sanitation in the developing world. Only then with the clock running out did she call for wage equality and equal rights for women.

The gender empowerment refrain may have appeared to be an afterthought if you hadn’t seen “Boyhood” the film Arquette was nominated for.  She played a divorced mom who was raising two children while trying to pay the bills and put herself through college.  A struggle faced by many real-life parents.


Julianne Moore’s turn in the spotlight was the performance of someone who has arrived.  While slightly out of breath and with her eyes shining, Moore’s remarks were heartfelt and focused.  With poise she acknowledged her sister nominees and remembered the names of the people she thanked.

The greater part of her brief stage time was used to praise the filmmakers of “Still Alice” for their depiction of a middle-aged wife and mother who realizes she has Alzheimer’s.   Moore said the movie shines a light on the isolation and marginalization of people suffering from the disease. See the video clip.

Moore was able to articulate why so many of us love the movies.  The best films address the everyday struggles, hopes, and fears of ticket buyers.  In 2014, Hollywood brought the themes of crippling disease, racism, and sexuality identity to the big screen.  Moore spoke to the power of the movies to help us feel seen and connected.

Photo Credit: Photo by Monica Silvestre from Pexels