Research shows that nonverbal signals carry about five times as much impact as the verbal words that accompany them. So it’s no wonder ‘The Artist,’ the second silent film since the original Oscar ceremony won five Academy Awards, including one for Best Picture. It’s also not surprising that some of the most memorable moments of this year’s Oscars were the unspoken gestures that took place on and off the red carpet. Thankfully, the lack of gratuitous jibber jabber curtailed the show to a prompt three hours and ten minutes from its usually lengthy four plus hours. Thus, a wise adage confirmed: “Silence is golden; speech is silver.” With the exception of Meryl Streep’s eloquent words of acceptance for her Margaret Thatcher role in “The Iron Lady,” little would have been missed had we watched the entire show on ‘mute.’ For some of the presenters and winners, saying less clearly meant more.
At the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles Actions Definitely Spoke Louder Than Words
Sacha Baron Cohen
Sacha Baron Cohen’s calculated yet ridiculous red carpet appearance as Admiral General Aladeen from his upcoming film, ‘The Dictator’ was better suited as a follow-up to Nikki Minaj’s gauche Mother Superior “costume” at this year’s Grammys. The urn full of “ashes” from Kim Jong-II (which he carried and intentionally spilled all over Ryan Seacrest faking a stumble) epitomized disruptive behavior at its worst. While you wanted to feel sorry for Ryan for being trashed by Sacha, you also wanted to smack some sense into him for entertaining an interview with a man who showed blatant nonverbal signs of instability via his attire long before he opened his mouth.
Jennifer Lopez and Cameron Diaz
Both Jennifer and Cameron possess unique sensual and physical traits which crown them as Latina bombshells. Jennifer with her amber skin, hair, eyes, and curvier physique juxtaposed against Cameron’s golden locks, eyes, complexion, and angular build present a wide spectrum of Latina beauty possibilities. Alluring as they are, their linguistic and oratory skills could use polishing up for such a star-studded awards presentation. Therefore, as odd as it seemed for them to randomly turn their butts towards the audience, it was an obvious message that “voiced:” “We really shouldn’t be addressing this crowd with unscripted air-time. So, we’ll just divert them with our rumps instead of ad-libbing and really making asses of ourselves.” Jennifer ensured herself with frontal distraction by showing us a glimpse of her nipple as well.
Angelina Jolie’s right leg pose on stage stirred so much commotion, it got it’s very own Twitter feed @AngiesRightLeg with 4,000+ followers. Though some viewed Angelina’s leg stance as sexy, I thought it revealed a quirky and even awkward side to her usual remote and unapproachable public image. The newly iconic leg (which peered out of the thigh-high slit of her black velvet Atelier Versace design) clustered with a pelvic tilt and hand on hip stance seemed premeditated. Interpreted by fans as powerful, the hand on hip, pelvic tilt, and exposed leg depict female sensuality, which in essence may grant a woman power. However, if this leg flashing body-language gesture had been isolated and outside of the context of an award ceremony (without it be Angelina Jolie) it would not have been interpreted as so powerful. It would have simply translated as femininely inviting.
Octavia Spencer’s Best Supporting Actress acceptance speech for her role in ‘The Help’ is considered by many viewers as the most genuinely beautiful. This assessment is accurate. However, her authenticity wasn’t so much about what she said (so overwhelmed by the standing ovation she received that she could hardly speak) as it was about her nonverbal “words.” Octavia gave the customary acknowledgements to fellow cast members, her family in Alabama, and the entire state of Alabama, among others she may have forgotten in her emotional state. Her humble demeanor, teary-eyed glance, and ‘hold on for dear life’ grip of her Oscar statue made her the most vulnerable and memorable award recipient of the night.
Morgan Freeman announced the glory of films in his opening ceremonies monologue. Yet, he sat stone-faced in the audience when the 33-year old Pakistani director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy brought ‘glory’ to Pakistan as she accepted her golden statue for her short documentary film, ‘Saving Face.’ The movie’s premise—women survivors of acid attacks and how their faces and lives are restored by British-Pakistani plastic surgeon Mohammad Jawad—along with the courage it took this young, Pakistani woman to tell the story was extremely poignant to most Oscar audience members. Noticeably, this was not the case for Morgan Freeman as he did not offer applause in praise of this victory. This nonverbal boycott debunked his seemingly earnest welcoming words.