What’s my cardinal awards show rule? The one I carp about at least once every show? “If we’re watching you at a big glamorous party, look like you’re having fun.” I stand by it, too. Almost unimpeachable.
Leave it to Elsie Fisher to break my rule and totally follow it at the same time.
Guys, every second of her winning the Young Performer award was magical. She’s been resolutely wearing suits all through awards season, and while there are people who want to congratulate her (or her parents) for not choosing overly sexualized outfits, I would bet millions of dollars that the decision lies in the adjacent ‘could-people-just-not-look-at-me?’ decision column. She also took a leaf out of the Nicole Kidman “sometimes my hair is just gonna be how it is” playbook, and it looks great.
Because Elsie Fisher won for her performance in Eighth Grade. If you meant to see it but haven’t yet, I will give into hyperbole and say that it’s probably the best portrayal of an awkward teenager, full stop. It takes someone who is fully and completely immersed in that stage, not ‘recalling’ or ‘remembering it fondly’ to make walking into a pool party in a one-piece neon green swimsuit look like the death march it is.
Then she keeps it going. Everything about this win is quintessentially 15 – enduring the adoring grownups who point you to the stage when you know how to get there, hugging only one of the presenters, dropping a pretty good anxiety joke at the top of your speech but whiffing the delivery so the laugh you were expecting isn’t quite there, nailing the thank yous and shouting out Writer/Director Bo Burnham in exactly the right way, so we remember that somehow the collaboration between adult man and adolescent girl doesn’t feel creepy at all, and bucking expectations by not ending with ‘Gucci’ – but not quite resisting a hand gesture.
She’ll go home tonight and feel exhausted and relieved and wistful and maybe a little cringey at some of the adults who will have hugged and petted her and stopped just short of pinching her cheeks.
But then she’ll look at pictures and feel confident that she really did choose a kick-ass purse. Which is just about exactly right for a night out when you’re 15.
(I have a lot, a lot less praise for Bo Burnham’s jacket, but he brought us Elsie and Eighth Grade, and moreover, he treats her like a person and a collaborator. He isn’t trying to act like he made her up out of Broadway and fairy dust like some directors I could mention – so the jacket gets a begrudging pass. This time.)