And while Amy and Tina didn't have that much to do after the opening it was worth it. I very much enjoyed Amy coming on after Bill Clinton (what the hell was he doing there except paying Steven Speilberg back for all his donations) and talked about how excited she was seeing Hillary Clinton's husband and then Tina added that she had just seen Bill Rodham Clinton.
Women ruled the evening.
Tina and Amy were great as hostesses and I gotta give props to the HFPA for picking them because the Academy would never do that -- they get Seth MacFarlane's brand of comedy which personally does not interest me in the least. The vibe of the evening was all about women as Alessandra Stanley wrote in her NY Times piece, A Salute to Girl Power in Hollywood. It always strikes me as strange that we need to celebrate when women are actually included in awards events and not just there as fashion accessories answering questions on the red carpet about who they are wearing.
But we still live in a world of shock and surprise when women are funny, lovely, interesting, heroic and substantive which is what we saw last night. A couple of high points.
Jodie Foster who was the receipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Award gave a rambling and at times moving speech about her 47 year career. She has spent years dealing with rumors of her sexuality and had in the past decided to take a stand by not saying anything about anything. She even defended her Panic Room co-star Kristen Stewart when she was raked through the coals this past year. In her desire to remain private (which is her right) she left people miffed that she wasn't open about her sexuality. It was the same kind of conversation that beseiged Anderson Cooper for years. But Jodie being Jodie, she can't just come out. So in one sentence she stood up for her friends like Mel Gibson (who looked like a deer in the headlights when the camera panned to him) and in the next breath thanked her ex-partner of 20 years and co-parent of her two sons Cydney Bernard. She finally put to rest the biggest non-secret in Hollywood. Yup folks, she's gay. And while the end of the speech seemed to be some signal of retirement from acting, later during the press availablity she denied that she is going to stop acting. But she seems to be quite conflicted as to what comes next for her. Hope it is more directing.
Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence two of the women vying for best actress at the Oscars both took home a statue last night since there were two categories for best actress. Lawrence was her ever adorable self thanking Harvey Weinstein for killing someone to get her the award and her brothers for treating her like crap. But Jessica Chastain came off much more mature and who knows if that could help or hurt her with the mostly male and older Academy voters. What Jessica Chastain did was stand up for Kathryn Bigelow as a director in a way that was oh so feminist:
I want to thank Kathryn Bigelow my director. I can't help but compare my character of Maya to you, two powerful fearless women that allows their expert work to stand before them. You've said that filmmaking for you is not about breaking gender roles but when you make a film that allows your character to disobey the conventions of Hollywood, you've done more for women in cinema than you take credit for.
But by far the biggest winner of the night was Lena Dunham. She is a young woman. She is the here and now and the future. She is who she is because of Amy Poehler and Tina Fey and those women are who they are because of Jane Curtin and Gilda Radner. The comedy through line is clear. The pain in the comedy work of Lena Dunham is a big part of the appeal. While she spends most of Girls just struggling to get through the day, be happy, do what's right, have good relationships and love herself, last night the Lena Dunham on display was all about pure joy (except for watching her walk to the stage, she was doing the these heels are too high walk and I am just trying to put one foot forward and not fall.) She's just a delight and a big talent and was self deprecating at the same time as effusive. In winning best actress in a comedy she said: "this award is for every woman who didn't think there was a space for her. I found my space."
It was a joyous evening celebrating female talent -- and some dudes too. I am just waiting for the day when we having a salute to talented women in Hollywood is an everyday thing and not something so rare that everyone is forced to notice it.