The summer before 8th grade, I was in the car with my best friend and her parents. When you’re 13, high school basically means the rest of your life. And with that stage only a few months away, we were talking about what we wanted to be when we grew up. At that moment, I had not even the slightest inclination of what I wanted to do. But for some reason, I remember casually saying how one day, in some form or another, I wanted to work for the Oscars.
I remember this moment clearly because my friend’s mom laughed and said, “You won’t work for the Oscars. You’ll be receiving an Oscar!” (I was known for being quite dramatic when I was young…) I responded that I would just like nothing better than to have movies sent to me, spend weeks watching them, and then give an award to my favorite ones. It seemed to me the perfect life choice and I wondered why my parents were so caught up in the lawyer and doctor business when the best choice was clear as day.
Fast forward seven years. The summer before my junior year in college, I was in Los Angeles driving to my first day of work at The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Yeah, it was just a short summer internship. But that was enough to make me feel like my dreams were coming true. That summer was life changing for me in a lot of ways. But the most important one was the awakening of a love for film that had been steadily growing stronger, always in the background among my other interests, slowly coming into focus, until it became clear that this was one passion that I had yet to explore, a passion that I could combine with my other skills and create an actual career for myself. It’s like I’ve spent my whole life in one room, doors limitlessly opening at my fingertips, doorknobs worn from constant revisits. Fourteen years of academic achievements, Sixteen years of soccer, seven years of music, countless words from the pages of my books, from the ink of my pen, words and words and words, all my energy pouring into these doors, wondering how to combine, how to find the one that merged these together, what was I missing? Until one day, I turned around and there before me, a door slightly open, used but not worn, bright but not blinding, and just like that, without even realizing, it all came together.
Working in the film industry made me realize that here was an interest I have been nurturing for years. From my mom teaching me how to play the piano with The Sound of Music to my natural instinct behind a camera, it was incredible to think I hadn’t seen this before. Even more when you consider that some of my closest friends are aspiring filmmakers, photographers, directors, and actors (keep your friends close but the people who will become famous closer).
With all this in mind, it is not surprising why my biggest concern planning spring break was whether or not I would return in time to watch the Oscars. When my friends pointed out that the show would likely go until 6am London-time and our first day of work was the following Monday, I simply shrugged and said, “Sleep is for the weak and those who don’t make films.” And that is how I found myself jumping off the plane from Barcelona, taking a midnight shuttle back to central London, hailing a cab in the middle of the night, and running into my room at 1:45 in the morning, whipping out my laptop and desperately searching for a live stream while my conscientious roommates slumbered on in preparation for their first day of work. I managed to find a link as soon as Life of Pi won Best Cinematography and seconds later, my phone nearly vibrated off my bed with the influx of messages from my friends who knew how ardently I felt about the film. Five minutes later, I had semi-unpacked, thrown on my pajamas, grabbed my phone, laptop, and iPad (and all relevant chargers) and set up in the kitchen to… well… basically cry and live-blog my crying.
I had missed the first hour or so of the show but I knew there was easily another 2 to 3 hours left to enjoy. Though it was still relatively early in the show, I had missed enough to not have a general feel for how the ceremony was going. What did Seth MacFarlane do for the opening act? What kind of jokes has he been making? Who won already and how were the speeches? Why did everyone keep talking about Chicago?
I had no sooner settled down than the montage to musical theater began. Now I am a big musical theater fan. Drama is one of those doors I’ve sadly never had time to truly spend much time within since soccer took up all my time in high school. So when Catherine Zeta-Jones began singing “All That Jazz” it’s no surprise that my next three tweets were in all caps with the hashtag #CRYING. I was confused though… Since when do the Oscars do this long of a tribute to musicals? But when the entire cast of Les Mis came out and started singing, I decided I didn’t care why I just wanted Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway to sing me duets for the rest of my life.
The next hour was mixed with some truly great moments and some bland ones. Granted I never saw Ted, but I was still not a fan of his presentation with Mark Wahlberg. Maybe it’s just not my type of humor, but I didn’t find anything that was said in that bit funny at all. Although, I gotta hand it to Wahlberg and his handling of the surprise tie. That was a twist I wasn’t expecting slash didn’t even know could occur. Although, I have to admit once I heard that Zero Dark Thirty was one of the winners, I didn’t really care how it happened. I was just glad that (completely underrated and misunderstood) movie at least won something.
But then. Oh but then. Seth MacFarlane won me over again with his bit from The Sound of Music. As one of my most Favorite Movies Of All Time, I was in disbelief that they were referencing it in the middle of the Oscars. And then followed by, as quoted by my prompt tweet, “Captain Von Trapp aka Captain Von Sexy aka Captain Von Prince of My Everything aka Captain Von LET ME LOVE YOU” presenting, I was basically just sobbing into my cereal at that point.
Things I Learned from the Oscars:
- Do not listen to Captain von Trapp speak words when you’ve been awake for 40 hours and are already highly emotional because movies
And then Anne Hathaway won Best Supporting Actress and no one was surprised but I still cried because I’ll always see her as the Princess of Genovia and everything she does inspires me and I wish she knew what a pure joy she is to so many people.
Well after that, it turned into a big emotional mess for me. Between Adele and George Clooney and Barbra Streisand, I was starting to realize that delusion and films don’t make for coherent feelings. But the night was nowhere near done. When Ang Lee won for Best Director, I nearly burst into tears. Even in my predictions, I hadn’t expected that to happen (I thought for sure it was gonna go to Spielberg) but he did it he won and I was crying and his speech was perfect and everything was perfect and I honestly did not know how much I could handle. I knew Benh Zeitlen (Beasts of the Southern Wild) wasn’t going to win but just the fact that he was nominated in the same category as these talents was enough for me and I know he’ll be back soon. But if it wasn’t going to be him, it had to be Lee because in my humble opinion, Life of Pi and Beasts were my favorite movies of the year and deserve as much recognition as possible.
Moving on, I expected JLaw to get Best Actress though, while I do think she did a fantastic job in Silver Linings Playbook, I honestly believe Emmanuele Riva was most deserving. Followed closely by Naomi Watts but she’ll (hopefully) have her chance next year with her role as Princess Diana.
At that point, it was getting close and I had chills. Daniel Day Lewis won Best Actor and made history and no one was surprised. Meryl Streep didn’t even try to make it suspenseful (did she even look at the envelope?) but who am I to argue with Meryl Streep?
And then. And then. And then. The big moment. The next ten minutes were a whirlwind of ohmY GOD and MICHELLE OBAMA and doing a lap around the kitchen because of nerves and then jumping on the couch when Argo won and desperately trying not to wake up the entire floor and then hugging my knees with tears in my eyes during Ben Affleck’s speech and just you know your typical reactions to an awards show about movies….
Wow. I ended up going to bed at 5:30 in the morning. I somehow managed to wake up (with four alarms) at 7:30 which meant I actually managed to get out bed at 8 (with two more alarms) and get to work on time at 10. I then surpassed all expectations and had a successful first day at work by staying wide awake and clear headed until 6pm. I then astonishingly made it without blinking a tired eye through rush hour on the Tube back to my building where after a nice long shower I collapsed on my bed and didn’t get up until the next morning.
I love the Oscars. Yeah there’s drama and controversy and I don’t agree with everything they do and I know it’s all politics and such but in the end that doesn’t even matter to me. At its very core, it celebrates movies. It’s about talent and hard work and whether it’s a win or a nomination or a consideration, it is what we have to honor one of the most important and long-lasting parts of our society. I cannot emphasize enough how happy I am to have rediscovered my love of film and how humbly lucky I am to have the opportunities I have had with my internships and to have found a career that fits me so perfectly. I have not turned my back on those other doors (the soccer one in particular is coming off its hinges and might need replacing soon). But last summer taught me how to turn around. It taught me to trust the road I’m on. Being on the right path doesn’t mean anything if you’re standing still. Nine months ago, I started moving forward. And I haven’t looked back since.