Friday, March 03, 2017

Viola Davis' acceptance speech

Lots of debate in my comments section on Viola Davis' acceptance speech.  Here it is along with a link to my podcast where you can hear exactly what I said (plus the rest of my snarky review.) 

And here's a link to the podcast.   Or you can just click on the podcast above.

So what do you think? Yay or nay on the speech?

28 comments :

Fred Nerk said...

Self-important, self-centered, self-indulgent and self-deluded, apart from that it was OK.

Kosmo13 said...

The speech wasn't as incoherent as some of Tom Hanks' acceptance speeches. It does sound pompous and pretentious, like a parody from SCTV's Sammy Maudlin Show.

I thought it was retro-cool of her to wear a Beatles wig to the Oscars.

Mike said...

I found Davis' speech to be moving and heartfelt, another fine performance. There may be an implicit context, which people have to experience for themselves to appreciate.
The problem seems to be with a sentence about "only actors being able to celebrate life" which seems fatuous taken out of context. Within context, it's clear enough: storytellers have the opportunity to celebrate the achievements, or find the extraordinary, in the lives of ordinary people.

A better question may be: Why was Davis nominated for "best supporting actress" and not for "best actress"?

There were comments that suggested that this year's increased diversity was some form of affirmative action. My impression, from the views of the BBC's film critics, is that that's not so.

Mike Barer said...

She was using artspeak.

flurb said...

Snarking's fun and all, for a day or so; but after the chuckle is over, and especially in this era of top-down cruelty, I don't get the added contempt. Viola Davis respects her craft, and is phenomenally good at it. She's absolutely right about what good actors do (or perhaps I should say, good actors who are given the opportunity to act - which means more than the equivalent of wearing spandex in front of a green screen, a criticism Davis alluded to in other words).

The other night I saw A Streetcar Named Desire again. Every one of the performances is excellent, but what Vivien Leigh accomplishes in her performance is astounding: she honors Blanche by at once realizing and vivifying the character, in ways Tennessee Williams' play only hints at. Davis and Washington and the rest of the Fences company accomplish much the same thing, and seeing it was one of the most satisfying nights out at the movies I had this year. It was great to see long scenes being played out, instead of the usual show-a-bit-and-cut-away, show-a-bit-and-cut-away, that most movies and television do these days. It takes courage to keep the scene going beyond the big revelation - and drama is what happens after the revelation, not DISSOLVE TO:.

There's an excellent book by Uta Hagen called "Respect for Acting"; a lot of the dismissive comments criticizing Davis seem to have none. Folks just don't seem to realize what it is actors do other than a) wait tables (many) or b) collect big paychecks (a tiny few). Like good writers, actors' whole lives go into their work. It's a complicated coupling of imagination and inspiration and human observation. Maureen Stapleton wasn't simply joking several Oscar telecasts ago when she said she'd like to thank everyone she'd ever met. This time, Viola Davis spent a couple minutes trying to communicate a little of the craft. She honored August Wilson heartily, something some of the writers who frequent this blog should appreciate.

People climbed all over Meryl Streep last month too, because she didn't just say thank you and sit down, as good li'l actress ladies supposedly should. Look, are a lot of actors airheaded pretty people? Sure. But good actors really do think as hard about life and how it works as any politician, or philosopher, or semi-anonymous blog commenter - because it's a large part of their job to do just that. Viola got her platform, and she said some interesting and moving things, and reminded us what good writing and good acting mean. Except for the laundry list of names I didn't know that she rattled off at an impressive clip, the speech never seemed long to me. It was a highlight of the show for me.

A Goyal said...

Nay--discursive and unctuous and made no sense.

YEKIMI said...

Sorry, I tried to watch it again. But 30 seconds in, music started playing in my head and my brain wandered down the hall to the bathroom......much like it did the first time she was speechifying.

Barry Traylor said...

I feel about the Oscars somewhat like the late George C. Scott did.

Anonymous said...

Flurb
Thank you for that wonderful and intelligent description of a good actor.
I wasn't going to say any more, having been thoroughly raked over the coals by "Michael" for praising Viola Davis in the comments on the March 1 post, but I really needed to acknowledge your superb commentary. I also was struck by her honoring of the writer, August Wilson, and surprised that the writers who visit this blog took no note of it.

In my previous comment, I didn't mention Viola Davis' childhood---one of extreme poverty and even hunger, which also contributed to her need to say something more than "thank you". She may never again win an Oscar and have the chance to stand before her peers and thank them for choosing her as the best actress of the year.

To those who thought it made no sense, perhaps if you gave it a little more thought, you would find that it did.

I usually don't like such emotional speeches, but sometimes they are appropriate.

DIANE D.

Terrence Moss said...

Viola Davis is not to be criticized. That is all.

Michael said...

Viola deserved her award and her time for speech. Should have got it for "Doubt" itself.

But knowing many around the world were watching, took the opportunity in cringeworthy self-praise.

Still am unable to listen to the whole crap the second time (no wonder the ratings are dropping when actors indulge in deluded self-importance speech).

God in driving seat? Huh, whatttt ???? God has no other work than helping you people out in movie-making.

Only because she is black, is the reason for all the praise. If it had been a white actress, she would have been ripped apart.

Many here and in other sites are of the same opinion.

Sherin said...

Flurb and Actors so full of themselves read the comments of this article:

http://twitchy.com/gregp-3534/2017/02/26/self-indulgent-speech-viola-davis-left-out-a-few-professions-in-her-oscars-speech/


I had already left a link for another snarkier review previously too in the comments section of:
http://kenlevine.blogspot.in/2017/02/oscar-follow-up.html

Terrence Moss said...

To avoid facing Emma Stone -- who had all the momentum at the time.

And to all but ensure the Oscar.

That the Academy didn't put her in lead as they did with Kate Winslet 8 years ago shows that Emma had it locked from the get-go.

Michael said...

Diane D: Even before her many actors have thanked the writers, many will in future too. She simply was egotistical, is my point.

Thanks Sherin for the article, reading the entire comments section now. Love this comment by one Mr. Marty - Note to actors; never write or perform your own material. Just say the lines the writers provide!!

Other comments are superb too, thanking their plumbers Ha Ha Haaa......

P.S. to Diane.D: Don't worry too much about my comments, you have a troll called Terrence Moss dictating what needs to criticized and what shouldn't. Was trolling the other day too, till someone stopped him. Today will give you company and troll others.

VincentS said...

Not as bad as I thought. A little nonsensical. Everyone who has ever died has dreamed? God in the front seat? A bit much.

Kosmo13 said...

Viola and her sisters pretended to be rich white women? If a white actress announced she and her sisters had pretended to be rich black women... or poor ones or any kind of black women, wouldn't the political correctness goon squad be railing about the racist acceptance speech?

Anonymous said...

From Diane D.

To: Michael
We need to end this silly conversation, but I'm sorry to say I need to make one more point. When someone says, "Viola Davis is not to be critized---that is all," he is saying something humorous---where is your sense of humor? Again, I am sorry that my original comment offended you. Obviously, it was not my intention to offend you or anyone else. You can respond if you wish, but this will be my last word on the subject.

Tudor Queen said...

I thought the speech was both incomprehensible and pretentious. However, this is in no way a critique of her acting, which I almost always admire. IMHO, Ms Davis deserved the Oscar, even though she was one of the many performers to slot themselves into the Supporting ranks while the role itself was lead.

Michael Ryan said...

This is the kind of speech I watch the Oscars for. It's from her heart. It's a little look into her soul. For me, that's what it is all about. I don't like the speeches where they thank their accounts, lawyers and act like they are half bored and are just there for the after party.

Peter said...

As an atheist, it never ceases to amuse me the things that hardcore religious folks attribute to 'god'. He didn't see fit to intervene in World War II but he did help in the production of Fences. He couldn't be bothered to stop Ted Bundy but he did take the time to help Matthew McConaughey win an Oscar.

Viola Davis is undoubtedly a brilliant actress. But in the immortal words of Paddy Chayefsky when commenting on Vanessa Redgrave's Oscar speech in 1978, a simple thank you would have sufficed.

Johnny Walker said...

I liked it. Shoot me.

(She was flustered. The people with the most potential are definitely not in the graveyard -- maybe those that HAD the greatest potential. But what other profession, aside from artist, celebrates the human experience? I get what she meant, and (call me naive) I believed she was genuinely overwhelmed. If Tom Hanks can talk crap after getting an Oscar, anyone can.)

Cap'n Bob said...

I didn't hear the first one and I didn't take advantage of this opportunity to hear it. Any acceptance speech that long is more than I care to hear. I'm amazed the walk off music didn't break into a wild version of Hold That Tiger until she went away.

Bev said...

She comes from the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life. What an absolutely ignorant, absurd statement. She memorizes lines for a living. Meanwhile, we have doctors and nurses who save lives, teachers who educate, social workers who care for the underprivileged, etc.

She comes from the only profession where all of them could fall off the face of the earth, and we could still function day to day. What a jackass.

Peter said...

Uh oh. Careful, Bev. Terrence Moss won't like that one bit.

Anonymous said...

It is the artists who provide the fuel and celebrate the lives of those doctors, nurses, teachers and Social Workers. If all the actors and other artists fell off the face of the earth, we could indeed still function, but what a sad, dull, brutal world it would be. And if you think it is all of those things already, you have no idea. What a jackass.
Joe Blow

Peter said...

@Joe Blow

Terrence, is that you?

Anonymous said...

No, Peter, Terrence is crazy about Viola Davis, not artists and actors in general (at least as far as I know). I am Joe Blow, but I will take this opportunity to tell you that I am also an atheist, and get the same amusement you do by religious people who can get their God to intervene in insignificant issues while unable to convince him to help with the mass murder of entire populations.

Captain Jack said...

Viola Davis, like the rest of Hollywood, thinks they are way more important that they are. They act! They don't save lives, they don't keep the rest of us safe....they have no other function but to entertain us.

She should have just thanked the Academy and whatever other insignificant people are in her life and get on with it.