This was the year that Ellen ordered pizza (three large for the entire Dolby Theatre) and Brad Pitt handed out plates. It was the year of Lupita N’Yongo, the beautiful actress from Nairobi (via the glamorous stage of a recent Harvard commencement) and the breathtaking blue that she helped Prada create. It’s the year Pink wore ruby red and sang of Over the Rainbow and every montage was a celebration of Hollywood’s versions of the Hero. This year, I learned to spell Matthew McConaughey without looking and I captured for the essence of my novel his line:
You are the four people in my life that I want to make the most proud of me.
I rolled these memories over in the back of my mind all day, attempting to hold on to the big, inspired rush I get from Oscar weekend – all while the least artistic and most chaotic nothings of a day job overflowed my inbox and crashed around in my head space unkindly and without relent.* It’s not that I hated the nothings. I did have energy for them, and the challenge was not wholly unappreciated. But on the days after, it’s so hard not to be inside the art bubble anymore, where we all just make art all day and talk about it together and congratulate each other when we’ve done it well.
So, I’m going to hold on just a little longer to the goodness. I’m going to hear over and over in my head that beautiful line,
I will survive. I will not fall into despair. I will keep myself hearty until freedom is opportune.
-12 Years A Slave
I will think about how much I love when someone wins who has been in the business much longer than it takes them to walk up those stairs. The audience really gets behind these, if beloved, and they remind me that it’s good and right and true to do the work in quiet now, without an audience or an accolade or an 8.5-pound statue; because only if you do the work then, do you ever get whatever reward there might be. And only if you can embrace the very smallest of these, like one quiet voice saying thank you, can you continue to do the work and to love it when no accolade ever comes.
Do you know who owns the group photo Ellen tweeted from the show? I wondered that today, too, way back in the pre-Mondays of my mind where I was trying so desperately to hold on to what inspired me, what made me laugh, what made me cry. I thought Twitter might own it – the same Twitter that broke from the interaction around it. According to TMZ, that’s not the case. Bradley Cooper owns it. And knowing that just gives me a deep down, too-fun feeling that I have trivial but delightful information about the moment I might have to call my very favorite moment of the night.
I love every moment of the Oscars. We all know I don’t watch them with even the hint of a critical eye. Frankly, that’s a little how I watch the movies as well. I don’t look for flaws (not that I can’t see them); I look for gold. I love the gold. I love the excellently-done, the uplift, the hearty amen moments when yes, yes, yes, I see what you did there, and it was good. That is why I watch; that is why I write down what I loved and why I keep a little room every day for the part of me that makes art.
My mother loved art, she loved film, she supported any crazy thing I did, but whenever it had meaning, she made a point of telling me, “That is what a film is for.”
Above all, she was very clear that nothing would mean anything if I did not live a life of use to others. I don’t understand why this is my life [and others are so much less fortunate]. I don’t understand that, but I will do as my mother asks, and I will do the best that I can with this life, to be of use. And to stand here today means that I did as she asked, and if she were alive she’d be very proud.
-Angelina Jolie, accepting the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award
We did Pajamas & Pearls this year. It was just Michele, her husband, Scott, and me. The night before, I watched 12 Years a Slave and Gravity. The day of, we watched Nebraska. (I recommend all three; Nebraska is a bit of a gem.) The day after, Michele took me to film locations in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, where Gone Girl filmed last fall, and by the house where Ben Affleck stayed while he was there. This was not just a night. This was Oscar weekend. Just ask Tiffany and Sara. They brought me flowers on Friday to establish the weekend with the perfect gold and white goodness for the occasion.
*Can I use relent this way? It’s actually a verb, but this feels right and it sounds like poetry and I’ve decided to keep it anyway.