“I’d like to thank the Academy, and of course my wonderful husband and adorable son for inspiring me every day. And my fabulous family, friends and loved ones, for sticking by me in those lean years, when it looked like I might never be up on stage accepting this award. I couldn’t have done it without you.”
Since it looks like I won’t be hugging Billy Crystal on stage this Sunday, I thought it was about time that somebody heard my speech. After all, I’ve been practicing my Academy Award acceptance since I was a little girl, effusively thanking my best friend Tatum O’Neill, my husband David Cassidy, my best friend Julia Roberts, my boyfriend Jon Bon Jovi, and my husband John Cusack, depending on which year it was.
At various times I’ve fancied thanking the Academy for recognizing my directing, acting, writing, and-try not to laugh too hard-singing abilities. Despite the fact that the Oscar has yet to be awarded for best singing in the shower, I’m still practicing.
When you picture me giving this speech, envision me with Halle Berry’s body, in a red Valentino gown. My gown preferences have changed over the years-in third grade I was really into the “Little House on the Prairie” books and wanted to wear a red plaid petticoat. In seventh grade I thought strapless Quiana might be cute, and in college I wanted Geena Davis’ elegant long-sleeved gown. But no matter what the dress style, red always looks good for the camera.
Pink is another story. I still haven’t forgiven Gwyneth Paltrow for that ill-fitting pink, “Shakespeare in Love” Oscar night dress, or Penelope Cruz for her pink flamingo gown in 2007. If Penelope Cruz can’t carry off feathers, no one can. I bet you can’t hum a single tune by Bjork, but remember her swan Oscar dress in 2001? Of course you do. That was her career’s swan song, though that ridiculous image is forever embedded in our brains, along with Lady Gaga’s meat dress from another awards show.
Since I’ve been studying the Academy Awards so avidly for so many years-and I don’t seem to have any personal use for this knowledge-I’ll offer some of my sage advice to the nominees.
You’ve got just 45 seconds and more than a billion viewers for your moment of glory. Don’t blow it on a fashion “DON’T.”
DO expect to lose. Despite what your agent, your mother and your hairdresser have told you, prepare yourself for this possibility, then visualize it in your mind. There’s nothing more uncomfortable than watching a newly hatched Oscar loser try to hold back tears on camera. No one is that good of an actor.
DON’T talk too long. One the best Oscar speeches in history was Jane Wyman’s, “I accept this very gratefully for keeping my mouth shut for once.” She was accepting an Oscar in 1949 (I read about this one, I’m not that old!) for playing a mute character in “Johnny Belinda.” “I think I’ll do it again.” And she sat down.
DON’T picture the audience in their underwear, no matter how nervous you get. With most things in life, advice from “The Brady Bunch” is extremely reliable, however this is that rare exception. Try picturing Colin Firth and Brad Pitt (or Scarlett Johansson and Salma Hayek) in their underwear. Not exactly relaxing, is it?
DON’T get political. Your 45-second speech isn’t long enough to say anything meaningful about global warming or the presidential race. If you must be political, bring a visual aid to help communicate your point, such as a sad-looking puppy, or an extremely thin actress.
DO shed a few tears, but not too many. What’s to stop your mother from running up to the podium with a Kleenex?
Which reminds me of the most important advice I have to give to Oscar nominees (and for once, I hope my son is reading): DON’T forget to thank your mother.