And the Oscar goes to ... family
Oscars 2015 had a particularly familial feel, from stars hitting the red carpet with their parents and siblings, to actors encouraging others to call their parents and thank them for everything they do.
Sunday night, the most powerful little gold man in the world rewarded the best supporting role, that of being a parent.
Winners and nominees stood up for family values, moms who are trying to support their children on a less than equal wage, and those grieving the loss of a child.
"Whiplash" star and best supporting actor winner J.K. Simmons focused Oscar’s lens early in the evening when he advised viewers to call their parents.
"If I may, call your mom," the "Whiplash" star told the crowd, and by extension, viewers in 100 countries on Sunday. "If you're lucky enough to have parents or two alive on this planet… Don't text, don't email. Call them on the phone tell them you love them. Talk to them for as long as they want to hear you. Thank you, mom and dad."
As I listened to the speeches, I wondered which parental advice, sacrifice, or strength had played a leading role in getting the winner to the microphone.
If all the world’s a stage and all the men and women in it merely players, as Shakespeare once wrote, then the part of parent is not meant as a walk-on, but a character staple meant to be played with gusto.
In that light, for me, it was Patricia Arquette, above all others who did something to empower families in America with her acceptance speech for best supporting actress.
Far beyond thanking or sharing the moment with her family, Ms. Arquette mustered the composure to focus the power of her win on the issue of underpaid working mothers.
“To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights,” shouted. Arquette. “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America!”
It was that rallying cry for mothers that brought it all home for moms like me.
Meryl Streep who had just lost a statuette to Arquette, and I both spontaneously launched to our feet cheering when Arquette finished speaking.
My sons who were watching with me stared at me as if I’d lost my mind and the dog barked in distress.
Like Streep, I just couldn’t help myself because Arquette’s words were cathartic.
Also, Arquette’s speech, if taken to heart by employers and legislators, could empower families.
While I was in love with all the love and family I saw taking place at the event, it was Arquette’s speech that made me go back and reflect on all the other Oscar family moments in a new light.
I thought about how many married and single moms work multiple jobs to make ends meet so their child can have acting, singing, or dancing lessons in the hope that one day they might walk the red carpet.
She made me consider all the underpaid moms whose children will never walk that carpet because their family is too busy just trying to survive.
So now, in that light, the achievement of some of the families behind the lucky few winners we saw Sunday night and those who made it into contention is all the more beautiful and powerful.
Family was in evidence from the moment stars walked the red carpet with their parents, children or siblings. Among them, "Fifty Shades of Grey" star Dakota Johnson brought her mom Melanie Griffith, Best Supporting Actress nominee Laura Dern brought her father and acting legend Bruce Dern, who was nominated just last year for his role in "Nebraska." Ansel Elgort brought his mother (and producer) Grethe Barrett Holby, Sienna Miller was on the arm of her father, Edwin, Emma Stone brought her mom Krista, Lupita Nyong'o brought her brother Peter for the second year in a row, while Arquette chose to invite her sister Rosanna.
While director of the best picture winner "Birdman" Alejandro González Iñárritu of Mexico, blew it in the moment, forgetting to mention his mother, back stage the Associated Press reports he had a forehead slap moment telling them, "I owe this for my mom. My mom is part of this journey.”
Twitter fans must have been feeling the love because I noticed many tweeted about their family Oscar traditions and shared their favorite family moments from the event.
It was one of the few instances where I felt good all the way through the event for my decision to have my kids watch with me.
This morning, my 11-year-old was hard at work making an Oscar statuette out of LEGOS, like the ones featured during the broadcast when the song “Everything is Awesome” from the LEGO Movie was played.
He said he was making it for me because he wasn’t going to be an actor. “I just want to thank you for making me who I am today.”
I cried like Sally Fields accepting her Oscar for “Norma Rae,” knowing that there is no better accolade a parent can receive than the moment their child acts on his or her feelings to let you know that your role made them better.