It shouldn’t have been too hard. Considering it’s something we all practice about once a week in the shower, mentally draft during meetings, scribble down during idle moments on the back of napkins in pubs, you wouldn’t think an award acceptance speech would be such an easy thing to balls up.
I accept that there are many challenging areas of a celebrity’s life. It can’t be easy working those long studio hours, then rushing home to check the nanny hasn’t sold all your underwear on eBay. Or thinking up inanimate objects to name your offspring after (those not already purloined by Sarah Palin and family). Avoiding the paparazzi without spilling your Starbucks down your velour tracksuit. Not being accidentally caught in a photo that Heat can later rig up to look like an unfortunate nose-pick. It’s a tough life.
But how hard, really, is a thank-you speech? If Kate Winslet’s buttock-clenching dronefest at the Golden Globes last week was anything to go by, the answer is very.
And it’s surprising because Winslet’s one of the good ones. She can act. She eats cake. She doesn’t do Loreal ads. She never gets out of cars wearing no knickers. And she could definitely take Keira Knightley in a fight. But all of these attributes were swiftly wiped from all memory at the sight of her snivelling tearful thanks to her make-up lady over the podium like an over-caffeinated pageant queen.
Just the crying would have been forgiveable. After all, I’m a cryer. As someone who can’t watch the end of Cool Runnings without bawling like an infant, I am in no position to judge. Tears can actually be fairly humbling, provided you throw in some realistic hiccuping and snot sounds – they say ‘I’m human, I have feelings, and not so much botox that my chin can no longer wobble’. Like Halle and Gwyneth before her, Kate chose crying as the serious actress’s route to credibility, and a possible Kleenex campaign.
But crying AND waffling, that is unforgiveable. Crying, waffling and forgetting Angelina Jolie as she apologised to the losers. Not to mention ordering herself to ‘gather’ several times, like a headmistress announcing lacrosse results to a rowdy fourth form. And, my particular favourite, answering back to the ‘aaaand that’s all for now folks’ music with the words “You have no idea how much I am NOT wrapping up.” All before rounding off with a load of gushing professions of love to Leonardo Di Caprio, before shoe-horning her husband like an afterthought. Smooth.
But how, I know you’re asking, was she meant to do it? Is there really any good way to say "You're right, I am great" to the establishment, without ladelling on the faux humility like custard on a couture pudding?
Here's my plan: don't talk about the honour. Don't talk about the film. Don't thank anyone, don't offer any commiserations, and don't talk through the camera to your kids at home.
Instead, talk about the award.
It's an under-recognised part of the industry and it needs appreciating. I think I'd dedicate a good portion of my speech to the craftsmanship, the long hours put in to carving the elegant jutting pieces that might later skewer Tom Cruise somewhere embarrassing at an after-party. Then I'd compare the award to other, also very impressive, awards around at the time – like TV Quick (unrivalled sheen to the sturdy base) and Inside Soap (looking like an actual bubble of lather). Wonderful work.
So while the Oscar rumours keep on buzzing, let's see if Kate can "gather" herself suitably for another go.
If in doubt love, make the little gold man do a dance for the audience. And when the music starts, wrap up. There's a good girl.
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