The Oscars Backstage: Notes from the Press Room

Sandra BullockJust so you get a better picture of the surroundings...The press room is housed in a grand ballroom adjacent to the Kodak Theater. Eight plasma screens surround the room, each hanging from the ceiling or adorning the podium. Speaking of the podium, it’s considered the Holy Grail; no one is allowed near it. Spot lights give it a magical glow with two larger than life Oscar statues as the backdrop.

As talent enters and reaches the podium, we journalists quickly raise our assigned numbers so the moderator can instruct us on when to ask questions—I’m happy to say all reporters behaved.

Our first victim was a blushing Ryan T-Bone insight; apparently he was feeling a bit ill. But the soft-spoken, young artist was overshadowed by Mo’Nique. The minute she entered the room she called the shots. She declared herself a standup comedian who won an Oscar, refusing to call herself an actress.

She referred to reporters as “hey baby,” “sugar” or “my queen,” and immediately gave a shout out to those she recognized, regardless of the order in which the moderator called out the questions…her excuse? Those were the people who came to her when she was a nobody. She caused heads to turn, but, well, she’s Mo’Nique…what else to expect?

Jeff Bridges caused a stir when he won for Best Actor. As the doors opened and Bridges approached the podium, the entire crowd went wild. With his Oscar in one hand and a champagne glass in the other, the bashful winner spoke about his performance and confessed to thinking about his wife when he received his award—calling her "my support."

Well-mannered gent and Supporting Actor winner Christoph Waltz made his way to the mic flashing a gigantic smile. He admitted to never expecting an award while filming and humbly advised young actors to do likewise. He describes this whole experience as “mind boggling, intense…fantastic.”

Seem like everyone called it — but Sandra Bullock still got an ovation from the press corp. For the record, I was crossing my fingers and holding my breath for Meryl Streep, but when Bullock joined us backstage there wasn’t a person in sight who didn’t want to ask her a question. She glowed, her crystal gemmed dress radiated, and, to her credit, she kept giving props to Meryl. "It’s like an auction in here,” she said. “I never thought I was a favorite. I didn’t aspire to this. I was in awe of it. I didn’t think the opportunity would present itself…This is the film I said no to…but things came together…I share this award equally in five parts."

The night concluded with screams and woo-hoos as Kathryn Bigelow took Best Director and Picture of the Year. The filmmaker took a few deep breaths, looked out at a sea of anxious reporters, and expressed her gratitude. She says the love from the critic community helped create an unstoppable momentum for the film. As the first female director winner, she hopes she’s one of many and will be "ever grateful if I could inspire male or female directors."

Related Links:
Awards Watch - Full Oscars Coverage

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The Oscars Are Over! What Did You Think?

The Oscars Are Over! What Did You Think?

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