The Oscars this year were just okay. Neil Patrick Harris was adequately witty and charming, albeit had a few jokes fall flat. There was a never-ending bit about ballot predictions with what looked like a reluctant Octavia Spencer and an uncomfortably right-leaning joke about Edward Snowden. But overall, Harris' performance wasn't a trainwreck à la James Franco and Anne Hathaway performance, it was just a bit bland. Sure, the awards show is notoriously known to drag on, but this year it seemed particularly stale. The only thing that seemed to liven up the event were the speeches. Interestingly enough, the awards show transformed into a type of political theater where the speeches didn’t just punctuate the event, they were the event. Here’s a roundup of the most politically-charged speeches of the night.
1. Patricia Arquette Speech About Equal Pay
After winning best supporting actress for Boyhood, Arquette delivered a passionate speech about wage equality that got this reaction from Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez. And though her comments in the pressroom garnered a lot of criticism afterwards, her initial speech is still worth watching.
"To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights, it’s our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America."
2. Graham Moore's Speech About Staying Weird
Winning Best Adapted Screenplay for The Imitation Game, Moore used his speech to talk about the often taboo subject of suicide (Alan Turing committed suicide at 41).
"When I was 16 years old,I tried to kill myself because I felt weird and I felt different and I felt like I did not belong. And now I'm standing here and so I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she's weird or she's different or she doesn't fit in anywhere. Yes, you do. I promise you do. You do. Stay weird, stay different. And then when it's your turn and you're standing on this stage, please pass the same message to the next person who comes along."
3. Common and John Legend's Speech About Social Justice
After delivering a moving performance of the song "Glory," Common and Legend gave some resonating statistics.
John Legend: "We say that Selma is now, because the struggle for justice is right now,” he said. “We know that the Voting Rights Act that they fought for 50 years ago is being compromised right now in this country today. We know that right now, the struggle for freedom and justice is real. We live in the most incarcerated country in the world. There are more black men under correctional control today then were under slavery in 1850.”
Common: “The spirit of this bridge connects the kid from the South Side of Chicago, dreaming of a better life, to those in France standing up for their freedom of expression, to those in Hong Kong, protesting for democracy,” he said. “This bridge was built on hope, welded with compassion and elevated with love for all human beings.”
4. Alejandro González Iñárritu's Speech About Immigration
Iñárritu gracefully deflected Sean Penn's horrible greencard joke with this jem:
"The ones who live in Mexico, I pray that we can find and build the government that we deserve,” Iñárritu said. “The ones that live in this country, who are just part of the latest generation of immigrants in this country, I just pray they can be treated with the same dignity and respect as the ones who came before and built this incredible immigrant nation.”