Feminist highlights from the Academy Awards

The two definite highlights of the evening were Mo’Nique’s win for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Precious and Kathryn Bigelow’s win for Best Director for The Hurt Locker.
Kathryn is the first woman to ever win in the Director category, and as was pointed out by AnnaLeighClark on twitter last night, it happened just before midnight and the start of International Women’s Day. Also, as Shelby Knox pointed out, the statistics about this award were pretty stark: 82 years, 400 nominations, 4 women nominated, 1 awarded.
Mo’Nique’s win was breathtaking, and her passion was there in her acceptance speech. She also made a point of referencing Hattie McDaniel in her speech as well as her outfit. Hattie was the first African American woman to win an Academy Award, also in the Best Supporting Actress role in 1940.

Mo’Nique’s acceptance speech

First, I would like to thank the Academy for showing that it can be about the performance and not the politics. I want to thank Miss Hattie McDaniel for enduring all that she had to so that I would not have to. Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey because you touched it, the whole world saw it. Ricky Anderson, our attorney of Anderson & Smith, thank you for your hard work. My entire BET family, my Precious family, thank you so much. To my amazing husband Sidney, thank you for showing me that sometimes you have to forego doing what’s popular in order to do what’s right. And baby, you were so right. God bless us all.

What were your highlights of the evening?

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  • changinguppakistan.wordpress.com

    I loved Sandra Bullock’s speech – she was classy, funny, humble and sweet all at the time same time. Her shout-out to her mom, Helga, was very poignant:
    “She said to be an artist, you had to practice every day, and for reminding her daughters that there’s no race, no religion, no class system, no color, nothing, no sexual orientation that makes us better than anyone else. We are all deserving of love. So, to that trailblazer, who allowed me to have that. And this.”
    Class act.

  • liv79

    Favorite moment was Sandra Bullocks entire speech. Hilarious and gracious. Esp when they panned in on her crying husband. And when she said Meryl Streep was a great kisser.

  • Oskar

    I loved Michael Sheen gushing on how hot Helen Mirren is. ‘Cause, you know, duh!
    Also, I can’t help it, but I love the idea of Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin and Meryl Streep in a three-way. You go, old people!

  • FashionablyEvil

    Barbra Streisand announcing Kathryn Bigelow as the best director. “Well, the time has come,” gave me chills.

  • Fiona

    A BBC article I just read on Kathryn Bigelow’s win ends with this:
    Despite her place in Oscars history, she has shunned the “feminist” label. “Strong women are fascinating to me,” she told one interviewer. “However, I’m equally inspired by men. I don’t look at these things in terms of gender lines. It must be odd to hear me say that, but I just don’t.”
    Any thoughts?

  • Rubbersoul4163

    I was THRILLED with Mo’nique and Bigelow. Major kudos to both of them. I was also so happy Waltz won best supporting actor; I loved his character in Inglourious Basterds.
    I agree about Sandra Bullock’s speech, even if I don’t agree with her winning the award. Her speech was great, no doubt.

  • gypsy

    Sandra Bullock made me cry :p
    I loved this part especially.“Not enough time, so I would like to thank what this film is about for me which are the moms that take care of the babies and the children no matter where they come from. Those moms and parents never get thanked. I, in particular, failed to thank one. So… if I can take this moment to thank Helga B. for not letting me ride in cars with boys until I was 18 because she was right. I would’ve done what she said I was gonna do…”

  • anon1000

    I liked the eyerollish expression on Samuel L Jackson’s face after Monique delivered her self-important speech. This is after all the same actress who initially refused to do the publicity rounds saying, “Monique can’t eat an Oscar.”
    Very happy for Bigelow though.
    Anyone else has a problem with Bullock’s movie?

  • MishaKitty

    Yeah, Sandy’s speech was the highlight of the evening for me. I was laughing and crying in all the right places. Very touching.

  • anon1000

    Forgot to add the least fav moment.
    Roger Ross Williams (the best documentary) getting elbowed by Elinor Burkett.

  • daveNYC

    High points:
    Kathryn Bigelow’s acceptance speech for The Hurt Locker. She was obviously very excited. I was actually wondering if she was going to hyperventilate to the point of passing out or vomiting. Still very touching though.
    Jeff Bridges’ acceptance speech. Another good one.
    Christoph Waltz’s speech. Obviously he’d planned it out, but it was a nice variation on the usual laundry list of people to thank.
    Low points:
    Elinor Burkett cutting off Roger Williams, then hogging the micophone for the remainder of their time.
    Gabourey Sidibe on the red carpet. “If fashion was porn, this dress would be the money shot.”
    Sandra Bullock winning.
    The short spots that were done for each of the Animated Feature nominees. Especially the ones for Coraline and Up. On a side note, has Pixar ever not won a Animated Feature Film award for which it has been nominated?
    Star Trek winning for makeup. Spock ears. They’ve been doing God damn Spock ears for over 30 years!
    Inglorious Bastards being (virtually) shut out. I’d have given them Writing (Original Screenplay).

  • Her Breckness

    I jumped up and down and screamed for joy when Kathryn Bigelow won for Best Director! About frakkin’ time.
    However, I did have to take some time to be sad because it meant that Lee Daniels did not win.
    Either way it is/was historic and AWE-SOME!

  • makomk

    Yeah, there was a big picture on the front page of the BBC News site this morning about Kathryn Bigelow winning, of the style they reserve for major stories. It’s good to know they see it as the important event it is (and they’ve followed up with a piece about the lack of female directors – go BBC!)

  • ooperbooper

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Mo’Nique is about as far from a feminist as you can get. She definitely earned the award though. It was a great performance but she’s not a great actress and many of her opinions on the lives of other women still bother me a great deal.
    I really disliked that Oprah introduced Sidibe during the lead into Best Actress. Did anyone else notice that she referred to Precious as “our” movie. Oprah and Tyler Perry only came in for distribution so I felt like that took the artistic credit away from people who were much more heavily involved in the film.
    Seeing Bigelow stick it to her jackass of an ex was definitely awesome. James Cameron losing twice in a row was the hi-light for me. Now maybe people will start to shut up about his corny, racist movie.

  • s mandisa

    i echo melissa harris lacewell: Monique winning the supporting actress and Bullock winning best actress is like a HUGE statement on black women and motherhood. Monique won for her powerful role as a “bad” mother and Bullock won for her role as a “good” mother. what i learned from that is not only that Hollywood (surprise, surprise) enforces the underlying societal views that black women are unfit mothers and in need of good white women to care for our children, but that in order to win an award black women must play these stereotypical roles (MacDaniel, Berry).

  • paperispatient

    Has she said herself that she doesn’t define as a feminist? That quote in itself to me doesn’t translate into “I’m not a feminist” but seems to be more “this is how a woman can make a movie about a ‘male’ subject like war.” But I haven’t read the article you quoted, so I could be interpreting her words entirely wrong or too optimistically because I hate it when female public figures misinterpret feminism.

  • VicPic

    Total props to Kathryn Bigelow! Overall, I thought it was a great Oscars. One of my highlights was definitely the speech by the man who won Best Original Score. Telling young people that creativity is not a waste of time was great!
    On a side note, I agree that Mo’Nique is frustrating and I’m disgusted by her desire to get paid to promote a beautiful and low budget film like Precious, but she earned that award with her performance, and as an actor, I’m thrilled to see people winning for performances and not hollywood politics. The one major exception to this is Sandra Bullock. That movie offends me as a feminist and her performance in it (and her performances in every other movie ever) is subpar, stereotypical and as uninspired as her terrible southern accent.

  • anon1000

    Yes, they lost Happy Feet, easily the worst of all the nominated ones that year. They also lost to Shrek before that.

  • ooperbooper

    Neither of those movies were done by Pixar. FYI.

  • redmuser

    “Hollywood (surprise, surprise) enforces the underlying societal views that black women are unfit mothers and in need of good white women to care for our children, but that in order to win an award black women must play these stereotypical roles (MacDaniel, Berry).”
    I’ll admit that I haven’t seen Berry in Monster, but let’s remember that, despite the roles that they are playing, black women are winning Oscars. There have been very few black women that have done this, and if you look at the evolution of female roles in the movies in general, there have been MANY women who have won Oscars for playing non-stereotypical roles. Julia Roberts won for Erin Brokovitch, easily one of the most non-stereotypical women depicted in film. Sissy Spacek won for Coal Miner’s Daughter back in 1980. And let’s not forget Kathy Bates winning for her role in Misery. Women win Oscars the same way that men do, by portraying the roles that they’re given well. If Sandra Bullock or Mo’Nique played a roles that offended you, they were probably doing a good job with the roles that they were given. Let’s not fight over the trivial things.

  • anon1000

    Typo in the first sentence. I meant they lost *to* Happy Feet. The second sentence is pretty clear though.
    So Monsters, Inc. lost to Shrek and Happy Feet won over the infinitely superior Persepolis and generally enjoyable Monster House and Cars (Pixar).

  • Lisa

    Of course they aren’t, anon1000’s comment was pointing out examples of films that beat out Pixar movies for the award.

  • s mandisa

    so race is trivial? to you it might be (got privilege?), but to me its the crux of so many things that infiltrate pop culture and influence pop culture. Yes, Roberts played a good role in E.B., Spacek (1 of my fave actresses) was AMAZING in Coal Miner’s Daughter, but all the women you named as proof that Hollywood does not just award roles to stereotypical characters were white women.
    to be clear, this is not to take away that Bullock and Monique both played amazing roles, but it is to say IN ADDITION to their performances, the politics of racism and sexism were at play here. Who wins an Oscar is just as much about who acted the best as it is a social commentary on the ideals and stereotypes that permeate society, in this case the assertion that black women are unfit mothers was evident in both movies.
    finally, just because black women (or any other stereotyped and marginalized group of people)are winning Oscars (and we arent winning them at NEARLY the same rates as white women..lets not even talk about lack of roles for A/PI, Native, Arab, and Latino women cuz thats even more telling)does not mean that the roles have evolved past stereotyping and type casting. instead of sterotyped as mammies, we are not typecast as “welfare queens” or “sex pots”. just because the performance of these roles are artisically pleasing does not mean Hollywood has reigned in the racism and sexism, just that we are amazing actresses.

  • paperispatient

    If Sandra Bullock or Mo’Nique played a roles that offended you, they were probably doing a good job with the roles that they were given. Let’s not fight over the trivial things.
    I think the point of the original comment was that those roles (in addition to many others) are problematic, and that it’s worth thinking about why those problematic roles are the ones being rewarded.
    I don’t see how it’s trivial at all to note one of the many ways that assumptions about race and gender play into the kinds of roles available to women – and especially women of color – and into which roles are applauded and earn awards.

  • liv79

    I also thought it was incredibly sly and clever for the fellow who won Best Foreign Film to thank the academy for not thinking Na’vi was a foreign language. So. Funny.

  • zes

    By the way
    Monique wore a gardenia in her hair because that is what Hattie McDaniels wore when she won.
    Just thought that was nice!

  • Stephanie89

    daveNYC, what was your issue with Gabourey on the red carpet? I thought it was a cheeky, witty comment on the nature of fashion.

  • redmuser

    “all the women you named as proof that Hollywood does not just award roles to stereotypical characters were white women.”
    You are correct. You are absolutely correct. I guess I didn’t make my point clear. The fact that black women are starting to win Oscars means that they are becoming visible to the Oscar commmittee and to the world community at large. In the beginning of movies, when only white women were acknowledged, women were given exceedingly stereotypical roles, and still are, but much less frequently. Over time, white female characters began to be written that were strong female characters. Black women receiving nominations is the first step to becoming not invisible. I know that women actors everywhere deserve to be given strong roles, but this process will take time. Minority actresses are only just starting to be given roles that portray them in a positive light, but it is happening. Gabby Sidibe portrayed a strong, young, black character, and while she didn’t win, she was nominated. Her performance was acknowledged, which is a step, not the end result, but a good step. I am a feminist who has learned to value the small steps, because no battle we have ever fought was won overnight, and I do like to celebrate the little victories.