The 84th year of the Academy Awards has been an awesome year for the Oscars! There were representatives and entries from almost every continent and profession.
In the many acceptance speeches, appreciation and awe poured from the mouths of the Oscar recipients in English, French—and occasional profanity. Although they were gracefully cut off by fade away music, recipients (aka winners) were given the opportunity to extend their “thank you’s” off-stage while other nominees were recognized.
And who did they thank?
They thanked critical thinkers and problem solvers, communicators, collaborators, creators, and innovators…Actually, who did they not thank?
French connection: The Artist took Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role, Costume Design, Directing, and Music Original Score. The recipients stumbled through English and soon slipped into hyper-fluent French to thank producers, art directors, and crews for lighting, animation, sound, casting, etc.
Where are these expert talents cultivated? And how do they reach a level of super proficiency, as Malcolm Gladwell describes in Blink?
One of the goals of arts education is to produce the next generation of articulate, scholarly entrepreneurs who dare to have a vision and see it through. And only through practice, internship, shadowing, and real-world experience does one reach proficiency.
Italian connection: Hugo. I say Italian because the Set Decoration co-winner Francesca Lo Schiavo said only “Thanks for Italy.” Among all the longer free-flowing thanks, this was speech was the shortest, punctuated with a salute of the Oscar into the air.
Hugo was born as a graphic novel translated into a film. For it, Martin Scorsese declared a genius and treated as a saint by recipients in all winning categories Art Direction, Cinematography, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Visual Affects.
What is the environment that cultivates such talent?
One Oscar winner thanked the equipment crew while another thanked specific products and companies for pushing their existing technologies ahead to meet the events in the storyboard.
Arts education needs those tools and resources being used in respective industries today, and even pilot them.
Iranian connection: The Separation, which won Best Foreign Language Film, was about an Iranian middle-class couple who separate, and the complications that follow when the husband hires a lower-class caretaker for his elderly father. (That situation probably sounds familiar to many Americans).
In the acceptance speech, the recipient thanked America for allowing him to share a story and build a bridge with us.
Our students need to know about the world, the conflicts and resolutions unfolding, and how to make one voice count.
United Kingdom connection: The Iron Lady’s Meryl Streep taking Actress in a Leading Role, directly thanked and credited the makeup artist team for making her believe she was Margaret Thatcher and enabling her to make the world believe it.
Back in the USA: Octavia Spencer was awarded Actress in a Supporting Role for The Help. She was so overwhelmed with joy, she could barely hold herself from sobbing and in between breaths, she thanked, “my agents for believing in me when no one else seemed to…and for making me feel beautiful.”
In the end, who was not thanked? Well you know who you are…