Oscars to Remember

American cinema’s biggest event, the Academy Awards, was held in Hollywood last night. Early on, it was looking like a return to normalcy, with the first full audience since the coronavirus situation improved. However, several things happened that will make this year’s ceremony one of the most memorable.

The Oscar for Best Supporting Actor went to deaf actor Troy Kotsur for his role in the movie, CODA. He is the first deaf male Oscar nominee. Immediately after receiving the award, he handed it back to the presenter so that he could use his hands to give his acceptance speech in sign language. Audience members showed their appreciation with deaf applause - shaking their hands in the air.

Later, Jane Campion, director of The Power of the Dog became only the third woman ever to win the Oscar for Best Director. However, in a positive trend for women, it was the second year in a row that a woman has won the award.

An Oscar statue

An Oscar statue (source)

The most memorable moment came near the end of the show. Comedian Chris Rock was commenting on various audience members when he made a joke indirectly referring to Jada Pinkett Smith’s extremely short hair. Pinkett Smith’s husband, actor Will Smith, initially laughed, but then seemed to get upset by the joke. He walked onstage and slapped the stunned Chris Rock. After returning to his seat, Will Smith then swore at the comedian, warning him to not talk about his wife. The audience, which had seemed unsure if they were watching a planned stunt, became quiet when they realized Smith was genuinely angry. Bizarrely, Smith was back onstage minutes later collecting the award for Best Actor for portraying Venus and Serena William’s father in King Richard.

Among the other awards, Best Actress went to Jessica Chastain for her performance in The Eyes of Tammy Faye, and the Best Picture Oscar was given to CODA.

Sources: reuters.com, nytimes.com, apnews.com, apnews.com

For source links, see the article on ESLNewsStories.com

Worksheet with activities

Audio

Hear the article spoken:

Useful Language

  • Normalcy (n) - the state of most things being normal
  • Memorable (adj) - easy to remember, worth remembering
  • Deaf (adj) - unable to hear or hear very well
  • Role (n) - an actor’s part in a play, movie, or TV show
  • Nominee (n) - a person that has been nominated for something
  • Sign language (n) - a system of hand and body movements that is used for communication, especially by people that cannot hear or talk and their families
  • In a row - one after another
  • Swore (v) - the past tense of swear: to use rude words
  • Stunt (n) - something done to get attention or amuse people
  • Portray (v) - to act a part in a play, movie, or TV show

Discussion

Discuss the following questions with your partner(s).

  1. Who is your favorite actor? Who is your favorite actress? What are their memorable performances?
  2. Did you see any of the Oscar-nominated films this year? Did you have a favorite? If not, do you plan to watch any of them?
  3. When a film wins awards, does that make you want to see it or not see it?
  4. Do you ever watch awards shows on television? Why or why not?
  5. Do you know any deaf people? In what ways are the lives of deaf people different from those of hearing people?
  6. Do you know any sign language? If so, please demonstrate one sign.
  7. Why do some people get angry at jokes?
  8. When is it okay to hit another person?
  9. When was the last time you were in an audience? What were you watching? How was the atmosphere?
  10. How do you feel about swearing? When is it okay to use ‘bad’ language?