The heart of the world is expanding greatly as evidenced at this year’s 87th Annual Academy Awards show. The movies that were nominated were both poignant and moving. They told us a lot about what is currently culturally relevant. What’s most exciting to me is that this truly is a reflection of the times in which we live. These actors didn’t just get up there and throw these causes into their “Thank You” speeches at the last minute … these were written in advance with not only thought and contemplation, but considerable heart. I truly believe the causes were their “why” for accepting the roles they chose to play in the first place.
Disease, disability and suicide were the paramount issues that seemed to top everyone’s lists. It truly speaks to the softening taking place across the planet. The heart opening we have all waited so long to see. People truly, compassionately caring about one another, supporting one another, helping one another. This year’s winners dedicated their Oscar statues to sufferers of Alzheimer’s (Best Actress winner Julianne Moore) and ALS (Best Actor Eddie Redmayne), to immigrant amnesty (Best Director Alejandro González Iñárritu, whose Birdman also won Best Picture), to equal rights for women (Best Supporting Actress Patricia Arquette) and even “Show your parents you love them” (Best Supporting Actor JK Simmons, winning for Whiplash) who passionately pleaded with all who have parents alive to, “Call your mom and dad!”
From J.K. Simmons to Patricia Arquette, the speeches were all moving. Simmons won the evening’s first award of the night for Best Supporting Actor, thanking his beautiful wife Michelle Schumacher. “I am grateful every day for the most remarkable person I know, my wife,” Simmons said. “I am grateful for your love, your kindness, your wisdom, your sacrifice, your patience.” Then he told his own children, as well as all sons and daughters everywhere, “”If you’re lucky enough to have a parent alive on this planet — or two — call them … don’t text them — call them.“
Dana Perry, who accepted the Oscar for best Documentary Short Subject, dedicated her award to her son who committed suicide at the age of 15. “I lost my son,” Perry told reporters after the speech. “We need to talk about suicide out loud to try to work against the stigma and silence around suicide because the best prevention for suicide is awareness and discussion and not trying sweep it under the rug.” Perry also mentioned veteran suicide in her Oscar speech, which she called “a crisis.” This year’s Oscar-winning HBO documentary, directed by Perry and Ellen Goosenberg Kent, is about the Department of Veterans Affairs’ 24-hour call center for veterans.
Finally, when Graham Moore won for his work on the screenplay for the “The Imitation Game,” he gave the world an insight into his inspiration and motivation for the film. “When I was 16 years old, I tried to kill myself. I felt weird and different and felt like I didn’t belong. Now I’m standing here … this is for any kid out there who doesn’t feel like they belong, because you do,” he said. “Stay weird, stay different. And when you get the chance to stand up here, do the same.”
Patricia Arquette while on stage, took the opportunity to make a powerful statement about women’s equality and equal pay that had Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lopez, and others in the audience nearly jumping out of their seats with excitement. She passionately implored, “”To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s civil rights. It is our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America … It’s time (now) for women. Equal means equal. The truth is the older women get, the less money they make. The highest percentage of children living in poverty are in female-headed households. It’s inexcusable that we go around the world and we talk about equal rights for women in other countries and we (in the U.S.) don’t.”
This theme was even evidenced in the entertainment portion of this year’s Oscars. The “Glory” Performance by John Legend and Common had everyone in tears, including David Oyelowo, the film’s star. The song then won for Best Original Song. Common said, “Recently John and I got to go to Selma and perform on the bridge that Dr. King marched on 50 years ago. … It was once a landmark of a divided nation, now a symbol for change. … The spirit of this bridge was built on hope.”
Meanwhile Legend shared, “It’s an artist’s duty to reflect the times in which we live. We wrote this song for a film that was based on events 50 years ago, but we say that Selma is now. Because the struggle for justice is right now. We know that the Voting Rights Act that they fought for 50 years ago is being compromised right now in this country today. We know that right now, the struggle for freedom and justice is real. We live in the most incarcerated country in the world. There are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850.” Looks like we still have much work to do I might add.