The Acceptance Speeches of Emma Thompson

Rituals: Emma Thompson’s Acceptance Speeches

It’s not every morning. I should start with that, but it is often enough that I’m willing to consider it part of my daily rituals. I find myself navigating to YouTube, typing in “Emma Thompson” and following it with “acceptance speech.” She just gives them better… better than just about anyone, and I find myself inspired all over again, ready to greet my day with a similarly joy-filled energy and an unparalleled grace. 

c/o TheForCryingOutLoud on YouTube

I’m sorry. I should back up a bit. See, there’s this Spotify playlist of mine; it’s a little unwieldy, but I love it. It’s just called “Morning,” and it begins with “A Morning for the Roses,” a song from a Windham Hill recording of Richard Dworsky, the one-time pianist for A Prairie Home Companion. When my family hears it, they collectively and most often metaphorically (although occasionally literally) roll their eyes, and I’m quite certain they’re groaning to themselves, “Great… ‘Morning…’” I pay it little mind, as for me, this lilting piano music triggers the start of the day. 

And here I must back up even farther for this gets at something I was told by a group of behavioral scientists with whom I worked for a time: familiar music makes a person more attentive to certain tasks; tasks like waking up, writing and driving become easier tasks as one’s focus becomes more singular the more familiar with the sound they are. Whether or not all science backs this up is another question. A cursory Google search would suggest their advice is disputable. 

It’s neither here nor there. In my experiences, music is an accompaniment to so many of my life’s most vital moments and the kind of music of which I’m writing helps to combat the debilitating tinnitus from which I’ve suffered for most of the past decade. I will defend the notion that familiar music gives clarity to the mundane until the day I can no longer hear music. 

Somewhere across the transom of my mind (and as of today, the Morning mix) will flit composer Patrick Doyle’s score to the 1995 Ang Lee masterpiece Sense and Sensibility, (a score so vital to me that I received it on vinyl as a gift last year for Father’s Day) and I’ll think of Emma Thompson’s speeches, most especially her acceptance speech shared here and above at the 1996 Golden Globes in which she channeled Jane Austen in her review of the evening. It’s at once charming and inventive, and it brings me such joy that I felt it appropriate to share it with you here.

Her acceptance speeches have always carried an air of disarming charm and humor befitting a certain kind of actor, one raised by actors, who trained at Cambridge alongside other genius performers in the Footlights theatrical club. What’s impossible to understand is the nuanced way her word choice melds so wonderfully with her delivery, anticipating the audience’s reaction, grounded in its humility and genuine grace. It’s something I emulate in my daily life.

I share this with you here in great anticipation of the actress, director, producer and writer’s latest film, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, debuting on Hulu tomorrow. 

I know nothing of the film apart from what she shared on Colbert’s Late Show last night and from what I could glean of the trailer, but it looks to be a thoughtfully considered telling of the path one’s life takes, as told through the lens of the sexual exploration of a retired teacher.

If ever you find yourself in need of a jolt of inspiration, if ever you find yourself searching for a way into a project or even, as I do, just the best way to being the day, look no further than the incomparably charming Emma Thompson.