Oscar Wilde Awards: It's a Night Without Moderation
Martin Short, Caitriona Balfe, Ruth Negga, Zachary Quinto and Glen Hansard are saluted at the annual event held at J.J. Abrams' place in Santa Monica.
The famed Irishman who said, "Everything in moderation, including moderation," would have appreciated the overabundance of laughs, inspiration (and whiskey) on hand at Thursday night's Oscar Wilde Awards, the annual event that bears his name.
On a brisk evening on the rooftop patio of J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot production company in Santa Monica — the temperature dipped into the mid-40s (!!) — Martin Short delivered a hilarious 11-minute routine, a weary-looking Ruth Negga spoke for 33 seconds, Glen Hansard and the audience sang "This Land Is My Land" and Zachary Quinto revealed how Wilde himself inspired him to live "as an openly gay man in Hollywood."
They, along with Outlander star Caitriona Balfe, were recipients of Oscar Wilde Awards at the 12th annual shindig created by the US-Ireland Alliance to foster a creative alliance between the countries. To do so, it salutes the contributions of the Irish (and some who aren't Irish) in film, television and music each year.
Among those also there: Diane Keaton, Lin Manuel-Miranda, Jon Hamm, Lorne Michaels, Sarah Paulson, Catherine O'Hara, Chris Pine, John Cho, Brad Grey, Dana Carvey, Paula Malcomson, Ben Mankiewicz, Cameron Crowe, Kyle MacLachlan, Shannon Woodward, E.L. James, Jason O’Mara, E.L. James, Alice Eve, Christopher Naoki Lee, Kevin Walsh, Roma Downey, Michael Giacchino and Oscar-nominated costume designer Consolata Boyle.
Once again, Abrams served as emcee. He kicked things off by saying, "I'd like to begin tonight with a prayer; that they will f—ing find someone else to host next year."
Balfe, the former model who made her movie debut in Abrams' Super 8 (but had zero lines of dialogue in the film), said she always dreamed about coming to America, "the land of Cagney & Lacey, The A-Team, M*A*S*H, Charlie's Angels and The Bionic Woman, all of which played in Ireland a decade after they first aired."
Crowe introduced Hansard, the Oscar-winning singer-songwriter and actor from Once, and said, "Wherever you want to go, Glen Hansard's work will meet you there."
The Dubliner then wonderfully sang a few verses of "This Land Is Your Land," the folk song made famous by Woody Guthrie (and Lady Gaga at the Super Bowl), and the tune rang true in these days of travel bans. (Afterward, Hansard performed a full set downstairs.)
Pine then brought his Star Trek co-star Quinto to the podium. "I was trying to figure out what it is I like about the guy," said Pine. "I think it's a quality that he brings to Spock and Spock brings to him, this incredible facility to listen."
When he was 21, Quinto spent time in Galway, Ireland, where he waited on tables, performed in a play and wrote a journal. "I felt like anything was possible in my life. Ireland helped to shape me in that way," he said.
"When I had to incorporate, I said, 'What am I going to call my company?' One of my favorite Oscar Wilde quotes, when he was on his deathbed, his dying words to his wife were, 'Either that wallpaper goes or I do.' I thought, I'm not going anywhere, so I'll call my company Wallpaper Goes."
Quinto noted that Wilde was persecuted because he was a homosexual.
"My journey as an openly gay man in Hollywood has in many ways been inspired by [Wilde's] inability to back down from who he was, celebrating the world the way he saw it and what made him different," said Quinto. "I feel like as far as we have come in the past 120 years, there are protests going on tonight about the reversal of protections for transgender children in this country. I believe it is all of our responsibilities to stand up and be visible [to help protect these kids]."
O'Hara said she first met Short backstage at his Toronto production of Godspell when she was 17, a high-school senior and a "perspiring" young actress.
"I went home and kissed Marty's picture in the Godspell program and dreamed that one day I would get to work with him," she said. "And just a few years later we were both on the stage at Second City Toronto, and I've worked with him 100 times since. My teenage wish came true!"
Short then took off as only he can:
"My speech will be very brief because I left my Uber driver waiting. You know how testy Gen. Mike Flynn can get."
"I asked Catherine what she would be doing if she weren't a brilliantly funny comic actor and she said, 'Probably what you're doing.'"
"You have to look good in show business. It's one of the rules. I've been on Jenny Craig more than Mr. Craig." Another of those rules: "You don't ask Bill Cosby, 'Hey Bill, can you fix my wife a drink?'"
"I grew up in a house filled with love. My cousin lived with us, and she put out."
Addressing Abrams, he said, "We're like Donny and Marie without the sexual tension, we're like Ellen DeGeneres and a vest."
And, "I bet you I've seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens more than 60 times. And every time I see it, I say the same thing: 'You know, J.J., we could watch something else.'"
Best actress contender Negga, resplendent in a green dress for the occasion, came late to the party after attending an Oscar nominees dinner. About her film Loving, she said: "It's a very beautiful film about two very beautiful people. I'm just very touched with how many people it's inspired."
US-Ireland Alliance founder Trina Vargo, the driving force behind this great party, was with her mother, who is ill, and was missed.