This year the Oscars seemed to radiate a new, fresh energy. It was exciting to see Al Gore(‘s film crew) and Melissa Etheridge take Oscars for An Inconvenient Truth, and (even though she glowed on the day in jewel-encrusted chiffon), I found it refreshing to read Helen Mirren’s pre-Oscar disdain for the prevailing culture of Oscar Couture critique.

I really wanted  Peter O’Toole to win best actor, because I loved him in Venus (I even reviewed it here when I first saw it) and because it would feel good to send an actor of his caliber off stage with an Oscar, but then when Forest Whitaker took it, I had to change my mind. Even the swiftly-controlled moment of disappointment and resignation on O’Toole’s face did not eclipse my joy hearing Forest’s acceptance speech.

Apparently Whitaker has received a lot of criticism for his lack of verbal polish in the past, but this simple honest moment touched a vibrant chord in me. For those who missed it, the gist of what he said is that the reason he became an actor was because even as a child he believed every person has a light inside them, and he wanted the chance to connect with that light in all of us. Uttering that kind of simplicity and beauty before a billion viewers takes courage, and my heart swelled in pride for him.

Perhaps we’ve turned a corner, and our collective spirit is starting to open up in optimism for a new day. It certainly felt like that to me on Sunday night.

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