By many accounts, the ceremony of the Academy Awards was a tedious affair; the winners were predictable, the songs lacked edge and the host was unimpressive. Yet, at a time where Oscars’ viewership reached a seven-year low, the evening was punctuated by moments of controversial and profound honesty. In her acceptance speech for best supporting actress, Patricia Arquette advocated for equal pay for women in cinema. Likewise, John Legend and Alejandro Inarritu commented on the work needed to secure racial equality and to expand the rights of immigrants to the United States. The 87th Academy Awards ceremony was arguably the most political in the event’s history. But arguably the most important comments came from Graham Moore. The screenwriter, upon reaching the stage to accept his award for Best Adapted Screenplay for his work on The Imitation Game, thanked his colleagues for their support and contributions, and began perhaps the most powerful speech of the night. In tribute to Alan Turing, Moore acknowledged the travesty that the father of the modern computer never had the opportunity to stand on a stage and be recognised for his work, particularly because he was ostracised for being homosexual. As such, Moore seized his opportunity to deliver a message of hope to anyone despondent at their “weirdness”. He revealed he had, aged 16, almost given into his despair and tried to commit suicide, Moore bared his vulnerability to show that in becoming a writer, he had embraced his “weirdness”, the unique beauty of which helped him reach the Dolby theatre and the Oscars.
His message was clear. This moment was, “for that kid out there who feels like she doesn’t fit in anywhere”, and, perhaps partly as personal catharsis, directly addressed those who might feel the way he had: “Stay weird. Stay different and when it’s your turn and you are standing on this stage please pass the same message along to the next person.”
Moore’s departure from the stage was met with a standing ovation, yet it was on the internet that his words began to sink in. Kevin Smith, on his twitter feed stated, “Graham Moore wins at life for the most real and best speech of the night”. What he had done was to speak with honesty and integrity, something conspicuously missing from awards season; he spoke for inclusion and the nurturing of hope over loneliness and despair. But, most importantly, he showed that despite its obvious flaws, the film industry is capable of providing hope to those in dire need of it, that being different is a blessing and being weird is beautiful.
The long term impact of Graham Moore’s speech is yet to be determined, but if one person heard him and can identify with his struggle, then it will all be worthwhile.