Can speeches ruin Oscar campaigns?

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Over the last 10 days I’ve heard a lot of people, in the Academy and otherwise, bad-mouthing Kate Winslet and Anne Hathaway for their emotional acceptance speeches at this month’s Golden Globes and Critics Choice awards, respectively. Upon sharing the Critics Choice prize with her idol, Meryl Streep, Hathaway — who certainly meant to say this a bit more artfully — said it was “fitting” that she tied for the prize with Streep since she thought the Doubt star was the best actress around. But it came off condescending to all the other actresses in the room, particularly her category-mates like Angelina Jolie and Melissa Leo. The usually composed Winslet, meanwhile, nearly had a heart attack when she won her two Golden Globe prizes. To many people, the reactions seemed over-the-top. Or worse, fake.

Now, I’m of two minds about this. On the one hand, I understand why Hathaway and Winslet would be emotional about their victories. I can’t even begin to imagine how many times, in interviews and in regular conversations, Hathaway has talked about how Rachel Getting Married seems like her bid to be a “serious” actress. Or how many times Winslet, who worked so hard on Revolutionary Road and The Reader, had been reminded that she’d never won a big award like an Oscar or a Globe. So it must have been overwhelming for both of them to hear their names called. But on the other hand, let’s remember that both of these awards are handed out by groups of journalists, for God’s sake — people that big stars like Hathaway and Winslet usually don’t give a hoot about. Why should they then fall to pieces over what those journalists think about them? Particularly in comparison to Laura Linney, who accepted her Globe for John Adams with such understatement and class, it was very surprising.

But here’s the question: Should award contenders’ speeches at pre-Oscar ceremonies affect how many votes they get from the Academy? Or should it be simply about their performances and nothing else? Regardless of what you think, apparently at least a few Oscar voters are now less likely to vote for Hathaway and Winslet. Maybe Streep did herself a big favor by skipping the Critics Choice ceremony.

addCredit(“Paul Drinkwater/NBC”)

Comments (213 total) Add your comment
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  • chris

    this is ridiculous. it should be about the performance.

  • Michelle

    This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. The fact that Kate Winslet and Anne Hathaway’s performances should be negated because they were excited to receive an award is ludicrous. I wasn’t annoyed with either one of their acceptance speeches and Kate Winslet deserves any and all awards she receives. I would rather seem someone excited and grateful, than underwhelmed and uninterested.

  • jason

    an Oscar win should be about the PERFORMANCE and nothing but. no money should be exchanged (hello, shakespeare in love), political thoughts, or past speeches. forget about that crap and award great performances (see also: adrian brody) and nothing else.

  • Sus

    Kate’s acceptance speech was humble, genuine and heartfelt. It should show the academy just how much she would appreciate such an honour as an Oscar. She is also long overdue but that is another conversation. She is a terrific actress and deserves all the accolades coming her way.

  • RayT

    This is just ridiculous. First “they” complained that Angelina was too morose and subdued, and now Kate and Anne were apparently too excited. At least Kate and Anne had the consideration to remember that the viewers at home are looking for a little excitement and emotion and that every time a speech features “understatement and class,” we the home viewers nod off. At least these two realized we don’t care who your lawyer and accountant are, we just want a little vigor!

  • Dan

    This is just stupid. The best performance should win, no matter tne personality or any other factor of the actor/actress. This notion is really absurd.

  • Rich S.

    Giving awards for art is no different than pinning a blue ribbon on a quilt at the county fair. If the prize pig or peach cobbler makes a speech, who cares? That these people care about these things at all is more than a little ridiculous.

  • Jordan

    What a dumb article. Of course it should be about the performance, I could care less about anything else. And while Hathaway annoys me a little when she talks, Winslet seemed truly grateful.

  • karen b

    The only thing that should ever disqualify a performance from receiving an award is starring in Norbit.

  • Sarah El

    I totally agree with Michelle about this. It should be entirely about the performance and if anything else should influence the outcome, I would not say that emotional speeches would be the first thing that comes to mind. In fact, I’d say that stand-offish and disconnect speeches would play more of an influence. Then again, it’s stupid that acceptance speeches should influence at all.

  • Ceballos

    I 100% agree that the awards, particularly the Academy Award, should 100% be based on performance. However, to think that is the case is a ABSOLUTELY naive.
    Other factors, like body of work and the actor’s likability and popularity (which was discussed in this blog), play into who Academy members vote for. So I’m not a bit surprised to hear that Hathaway and Winslet’s speeches have turned certain Academy members off.
    By the way, I LOVE Kate Winslet, but I HATED her speeches at the Globes.

    http://whatjohnceballosthinks.blogspot.com/2009/01/random-though-of-moment-sure-to-be.html

  • chris

    When I read the headline, I thought this was going to be about saying something controversial (political, etc.) during the acceptance speech. I just can’t see a voter changing his/her mind on casting a vote because an actor or actress wasn’t ‘humble enough.’

  • JB

    Yes seriously, this is the biggest bunch of bs I’ve ever heard/read.
    Awarding someone based on their speech for a previous win?? How shallow has the Academy and other isiders become? Gosh I thought Oscars were handed out based on how great the performance of that star in a film.
    And Winslet, oh my god, I cried during her speeches. She was wonderful, yes she rattled on too many crew members, but remember this woman has been taking fantastic roles in fantastic films for years, getting nominated for nearly all of them and then continually going home empty. All while being praised “best actress of her generation” by the press etc. So for her to win and win TWICE, she was completely humbled and blow away. Her speeches were the best I’ve ever heard, anytime, anywhere.
    She deserves anything and everything she gets. It’s time.
    As for Hathaway, well of course she mentioned Streep, they’re former co-stars and friends. One will blank upon all but those they are familiar with.

  • M Weyer

    Sadly, this raises a good point. A big school of thought is that the reason Robeto Beigini won in 1999 was because people loved his speeches at other shows and wanted to see him at the Oscars, not really thinking of the merit of his performance.
    And Russell Crowe’s rude remarks at the BAFTAs in 2002 probably cost him the Best Actor award for “A Beautiful Mind.” Sad to say but a lot of times, politics and appeal mix in with the worth of the performance in voters’ minds.

  • ibivi

    Many nominees campaign for the awards they’re up for. Nothing new. Over emoting upon receiving the award? Julia Roberts, Halle Berry, Roberto Benigni come to mind.

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