Monday, February 25, 2008


Freeheld' wins Oscar

Cynthia Wade's documentary about the struggles of Lt. Laurel Hester took home the Oscar tonight for Best Documentary Short. "Freeheld" is the story of Hester's final struggles with cancer and her fight against the freeholders of Ocean County, N.J., who almost denied her partner, Stacie Andree, Hester's pension benefits. For a full story, see my related article from a few weeks ago.

Upon accepting the award (which came surprisingly late in the interminable evening), Wade said, "It was Lt. Laurel Hester's dying wish that her fight" would "make a difference for same sex couples." Andree was also present, and the camera cut to her towards the end of the speech.

It's been a long journey, I'm sure, for everyone involved with the film, and while the struggle for equal marriage rights continues, advancements are being made through the courageous actions of people like Hester, Andree and Wade.

The rest of the show had its typical ups-and-downs. One of the better ups was the Best Actress win for Marion Cotillard, who delieverd an electirc performance as Edith Piaf in "La Vie En Rose." Refreshingly, both Cate Blanchett and Julie Christie looked honestly thrilled when the French actress got the nod. Cotillard's speech sounded genuine: "Thank you life, thank you love. It's true that there's angels in this city."

Tilda Swinton's Best Supporting Actress award was somewhat of a suprise. Many thought Blanchett would win it, but Swinton's victory was well deserved for her role in "Michael Clayton."

This year's in memoriam ended with Heath Ledger in his iconic Ennis pose in the hat, leaning against a building, and it reminded me of the sorrow that will be forever associated with this fine young actor's death.

Just past midnight now (must we suffer through mini-docs on the workings of the Academy and tired routines from presenters?), I'll blog more tomorrow about the evening's other highlights and the fashions (few utter disasters with the exception of an inordinate number of unkempt mopheads).

Congratulations to Cynthia Wade, Stacie Andree and Laurel Hester, whereever she might be.

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