Well, it’s been a few hours and no sleep – time for me to contradict myself. Remember when I said I wish there were more people who were just entertaining presences, whether they were Oscar contenders or not? Maybe even people who were overtly *not* nominees, just as promises for fun bubbly celebrity entertainment?
Well. Too bad for me, because arguably the biggest, most exciting win of the night is also the most entertaining person we had to hang out with last night – and he loved every second of it.
Probably the least remarkable thing about Daniel Kaluuya’s night was his look: it is very, very similar to the look he sported all season long. It didn’t bug me the way it did some people on Twitter, who weren’t convinced the suit really fit, but it certainly didn’t stop me in my tracks:
But. From the moment that win happened – the one we all hoped for, knew would probably happen – the reason it felt so good wasn’t just because Daniel Kaluuya was incredible as Chairman Fred Hampton and you were happy for him.
It’s because when Daniel Kaluuya gets up there to speak, you are in the hands of an actual master. He’s so clearly speaking off the cuff, yet without a single hesitation. He is so free and so clear in paying tribute to Chairman Fred Hampton – imagine the earnestness in saying, just in front of everyone, “[The Black Panther Party] made me love myself”:
Daniel Kaluuya remembers Fred Hampton in his Best Supporting Actor acceptance speech at the #Oscars: â€œWhat a man! He was on this Earth for 21 years and found a way to feed kids, educate kids, give free medical care... He showed me how to love myselfâ€ pic.twitter.com/A4XPzzCTP9— Dionne Grant (@DionneGrant) April 26, 2021
And then, while you’re still marvelling at that, while you’re feeling that most of entertainment is smoke and mirrors and social media tells us that tonight’s just one more costume to put on (to me this is never more clear than when you see outfits with matching masks – not that I’m not happy to see them, but the thought that’s put into them is so much more than just grabbing the closest mask on your way out the door), but clearly Daniel Kaluuya is somehow able to speak from his actual heart and touch people, live, in the moment… well, then this happens.
The same cadence. The same lyrical, humble tone of wonder, carrying you wherever he wants to go in the story, and then:
Brilliant. Beautiful. And he’s not really mugging for the moment, either – he just can’t resist being cheeky in a moment of solemnity. He needs it to be both!
This is where I will fully boast and say that if you watched his SNL monologue a few weeks ago, there was an almost identical bait-and-switch moment right at the end – if you haven’t watched, I’m not going to spoil it, just do yourself a favour and enjoy:
This is what’s special about working with him, I would imagine. This is why he’s been such a notable actor so early on in his career – it’s not that you never know what you’re going to get, exactly, it’s that you know you’re going to get it all. The thoughtfulness and depth and heartfelt feelings and the rogue grin and cheekiness… but you can’t predict how or when it’s going to come at you, and yet you feel utterly relaxed waiting for it on its own time.
He talked a lot about how he was going to really go off last night. I hope, as I write this, that his celebration is still happening.