The annual Hollywood awards season is now officially in full swing after this Sunday’s Golden Globes ceremony. As the bevy of awards shows unfold each year, Oscar fans look for clues for who will ultimately win Academy Awards and style mavens review the red carpet fashions. But the speaker in me looks to see which winners deliver great acceptance speeches. Unfortunately, the 3 hours of this year’s Golden Globes show produced no big winning speeches from the honorees.
The Golden Globes are probably the most light-hearted of the major motion picture or television kudos. (Having the awards with banquet tables and alcoholic beverages probably has something to do with the boisterous atmosphere). So we’ve come to expect less poignancy from winners at this show than compared to the Academy Awards.
Nevertheless, it’s a moment for winners to shine before a large television audience. So for me, there are still key do’s and don’t for a great acceptance speech. Do not recite a roll call of numerous agents, managers, executives and colleagues to thank; it’s better to pick a few key people or just holistically thank people who support you. Do plan something to say, but don’t read off a note card or regurgitate memorized words as if they have no meaning. Do try to offer some humor, emotion or a poignant life lesson. And above all else, don’t be contrived; be authentic.
Amy Adams won my top speaking honors when she accepted her trophy as Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical (for American Hustle). She spoke with freshness and found an emotionally touching way to thank her manager (for seeing something in her).
Leonardo DiCaprio also did a credible job with his award for The Wolf of Wall Street — in particular with some eloquent words about director Martin Scorsese’s impact on cinema.
Matthew McConaughey was a somewhat surprise winner for Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama (Dallas Buyer’s Club). His speech was laced with his Southern drawl and included a nice moment thanking his mother for not allowing him to watch TV as a kid, but instead telling him “Don’t watch somebody on TV do it for you, get out there and do it for yourself.”
Alfonso Cuaron was concise and meaningful while collecting the motion picture Best Director honor for Gravity. He also delivered the funniest winner line of the night — joking about his thick accent, he said to star Sandra Bullock: “I want to thank you for not quitting when you thought that I have told you, ‘Sandra, I’m going to give you herpes,’ when I really meant to say, ‘Sandra, I’m going to give you an earpiece.’ “
And show co-host Amy Poehler was delightful after being selected Best Actress for a television comedy series. Although she gave the routine list of people to thank, Amy’s surprised reaction to winning was authentic and endearing.
But none of the winners hit it out of the ballpark with their speeches, with the evening producing no profound moment.
And the remaining winner acceptances left me feeling lukewarm or just darn confused. Jacqueline Bisset won for her performance in the Dancing on the Edge mini-series; her rambling talk was bleeped for an expletive and included beauty advice with little rhyme or reason (“Forgive everybody. It’s the best beauty treatment.”)
Jennifer Lawrence is known to be refreshingly candid, but her triumphant words (supporting actress for American Hustle) were unprepared enough to be awkward. Unimpressive speeches also came from Jon Voight, Alex Ebert (original score, All Is Lost), and Steve McQueen (motion picture drama winner, 12 Years a Slave) — who asked a cast member to smack him so he could remember someone to thank.
And then there was Diane Keaton (who I adore), with her strange turn accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award for Woody Allen. At one moment, there was a 5-second audio cut-out, and then Diane Keaton ended by singing the chorus of “Make New Friends” a cappella. I was left somewhat befuddled.
But that’s the Golden Globes for you — light-hearted fare with some zaniness on top. As the Hollywood awards season takes its long march to the Oscars, I’m hoping the winners keep their freshness. But I also hope their words become more meaningful when they speak.