imagesI relish this season of award ceremonies when the gods and goddesses of entertainment descend from Mount Olympus in their magnificent finery and parade before us. Every word, look, outfit, comment and action is magnified for public consumption and it is a feast for public speaking commentary.

It’s the Ultimate Fishbowl
The wonderful and painful truth is that everything is illuminated. This can work beautifully as when Adele so easily accepted her award “Honestly, I’ve just come out for a night out with my friend” (she is so real), but can backfire excruciatingly as when the camera caught Tommy Lee Jones looking unflinchingly unamused. Can I really justify such a negative reaction to him in that moment? (I fear we do!)

Chemistry Matters
Underlying Tina Fey and Amy Poelher’s talent and comic intelligence is a genuine friendship. Their mutual support through laughter was inspiring, funny, warm and loving. Their chemistry made a difference and was a marked contrast to the mean, self-serving humor of Ricky Gervais in 2012.

What Not To Wear
I firmly believe feminism can coexist with fashion. Beauty moves me and I am as excited as the next woman to watch the red carpet fashion parade. But, oh my god with the cleavage ripping fashion distraction. I don’t get it. I do not want to see any women’s breasts at any awards ceremony and the risk that I might unnerves me. (Plus, I am distracted… how are they keeping their breasts in place?) I am sorry Amy Poehler, but I particularly wish you didn’t go for that look.

I was delighted by Lena Dunham’s long, tottering trek to the stage. She could hardly walk and looked like a young girl wearing her mother’s high heels. It was absurd and I loved it because (as a big fan of her show) whether she means to or not, she always skewers the impossible demands and realities of becoming and being an American woman.

Be Specific
I am clearly one of ten people in the world who found Les Miserables UNBEARABLE to watch. Anne Hathaway has particularly annoyed me in her pre-awards interviews (and her strange upstaging of the Best Picture Award). Nonetheless, I sincerely appreciated her acknowledgement of Sally Field as a mentor. She demonstrated specificity beautifully by naming the characters that Field played post “The Flying Nun.” In that moment Hathaway was at her most genuine and gracious. (Otherwise, I would like to propose a new award for “Best Stand Out Performance” so that Hathaway’s 15 minutes of screen time would not have her competing with way more deserving supporting actresses.)

Give Credit Where Credit is Due
Daniel Day Lewis did an excellent job of giving credit to the writer Tony Kushner. Writers and creators are so often overlooked (The whole “Les Mis” team seemed pleasantly surprised when the playwrights actually joined them onstage), and part of Lewis’ appeal for me is what I perceive as a deep understanding of where he fits in the complex world of staging drama for audiences. It’s not false humility either, which is an understandably easy (and transparent) trap for any actor accepting an award.

Truth is Stranger Than Fiction
1. Bill Clinton: I have no idea what he said because I couldn’t believe he was actually there introducing a movie. The stage had been crowded with the last awardees and their handlers and suddenly President Clinton walks out unaccompanied? What?
2. Sylvester Stallone: I pray that he is not ill right now, because he looked like a frightening caricature of aging celebrity.
3. Jodi Foster: I found her equally confusing and mesmerizing, and I am still not sure what she really said.
4. Jennifer Laurence is a superstar!

Onto the Oscars!