God, that kiss was hot. We’ll get to the kiss, I promise.
On Show Your Work, and here, I’ve wished nominees would prepare their speeches, have something to say if they get up there and win – not everyone can be flummoxed as adorably as Olivia Colman.
But they don’t. Fear that they’ll jinx themselves, or fear they’ll sound canned and insincere. But Rami Malek must have, right? His speech was great. Here’s the part that really got me in my gut:
“We made a film about a gay man, an immigrant, who lived his life just unapologetically himself. And the fact that I’m celebrating him and this story with you tonight is proof that we’re longing for stories like this. I am the son of immigrants from Egypt. I am a first-generation American. And part of my story is being written right now.”
He has all the words right there - when he’s thanking Queen and when he’s recognizing Lucy Boynton, both as his costar and his love (that kiss! I haven’t forgotten. Stay with me here).
He had to have prepped. He wanted to do a good job if he won. His speech mattered. Because, of course, Rami Malek is an F.O.D – First, Only, Different – which, in cases like this, becomes synonymous with ‘best’. Many of today’s headlines include the FOD factor – that Malek is the first person of Egyptian origin to win an Oscar for acting. I’m not surprised it’s included – there’s pride there, and his win breaks down one more of the barriers everyone in entertainment is trying to grapple with. It will forever be part of his story, and Oscar history.
I identify a lot with Rami Malek – I’m the child of an Egyptian immigrant (as well as an Irish one), and Rami’s adorable, tiny mother looks exactly like my grandmother, my aunts. I understood why he talked about his struggles to figure out who he was, particularly because there’s not much familiarity with Egyptian or Arab cultures in North America – so, especially for a light-skinned, green-eyed man like Rami, you may not be ‘othered’ in the way people who are black or Asian or Latinx often are, but you’re not accepted, either. You’re not ‘one of us’.
Which is why his playoff music sucked so badly.
He gives his speech, about the complexity of his identity and how wonderful it can be to be your complicated self, references his curly hair – and then, as he walks off triumphantly, the orchestra plays “America”.
It’s from West Side Story. It’s sung by Puerto Rican characters who have moved to New York, making fun of one girl who still likes Puerto Rico—all the others explain how much better it is to be in America than anywhere else. And aren’t they lucky to be there, and why would anyone think any differently? It’s a song that has tripped up no less than Steven Spielberg because the lyrics have such deeply troubling implications.
THAT’s the song they chose to play him off???
It’s specific to him, too. If Bradley Cooper had won, or Christian Bale, playing “America” would have made no sense. But for Malek, born in L.A., a song about how lucky he is to be there!? Yeah, I know – lots of people don’t know the lyrics, but lots of people do. They could have chosen thousands of generic orchestral pieces, but they chose that one, and it’s gross.
So, the greatest achievement of his career, followed by a great speech, topped off with a microaggression. Here’s what’s crazy about Rami Malek’s night – that was only Act ONE.
Or, I guess, the real Act One was, yeah… that kiss. When Rami leans over to kiss Lucy Boynton before he accepts the award, he makes it count, and if we weren’t all feeling it in our own lips and faces and… parts…he goes back for another kiss – and a third! Just to make sure his priorities are in order. I mean, I came out of the Malek section in my feelings and steamed about the song, but I’m not made of stone. That was something else.
An incredible night overall, right? Win. Kiss. Speech. “Hi Mom!”
And then he fell off the stage.
You guys. He fell off the STAGE. He just straight up misses the edge and goes DOWN.
And then he looks a little dazed:
And a little giddy:
And has a nice chat with the paramedics:
Before recovering to take his picture with the other ‘Big Four’ winners.
When the story first broke in the middle of the night, reports were that he’d missed his chance to be in this picture, and there were shots released of Mahershala Ali, Regina King, and Olivia Colman without him. Kathleen was so incensed and frantic about this that she was about ready to storm downstairs to the Dolby Theatre and sort some stuff out. Maybe she thought he’d thank her like he thanked Lucy Boynton, I don’t know.
This all happened to Rami Malek in the space of AN HOUR. What is it like to be that guy? What adventures did he have the rest of the night?
We’re not supposed to know all of Act 2. I’m sure he’ll someday make a movie about what happened After The Oscars. This is the first shot: