by Elizabeth Hemmerdinger | bio

Three cheers for Hollywood! Last night Tinseltown celebrated the grownups, virtually heaping Oscars on (gasp!) people in menopause, enduring legends who’d never won before and who presented themselves with much grace at the podium. 

First among equals, there’s Helen Mirren, who won the best actress Oscar for her role in "The Queen."

Much has been written about Mirren’s beauty and style over the past few months — even John C. Reilly, Will Ferrell and Jack Black couldn’t resist. "Helen Mirren will be coming home with me," they sang last night, with a good amount of wishful thinking.

The voice-over as she walked to the stage to accept the Oscar was quite amusing: "The road to the Oscars was bumpy for Helen Mirren. An Indian hand reader once told her her that her success would not peak until her late 40s." (We have no idea what he was referring to, but we thought we’d share.)

In her acceptance speech Mirren said: "For 50 years or more, Elizabeth Windsor has maintained her dignity, her sense of duty and her hairstyle. She has had her feet planted firmly on the ground, her hat on her head and her handbag on her arm. She has weathered many, many storms. I salute her courage and her consistency." 

And I salute their endurance.

Other winners include best supporting actor Alan Arkin (who almost didn’t get the grandfather role in "Little Miss Sunshine" because the filmmakers thought he looked too virile for a man in his 70s); Martin Scorsese, finally, for "The Departed," and his great film editor, Thelma Schoonmaker (listen to a NPR interview with Schoonmaker, who has edited all of Scorsese’s films); and Forest Whitaker, who though hardly an elder statesman, has been making films since the early 80s and took home his first best actor Oscar.

Speaking of consistency and endurance, Al Gore won for his documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth." In one of the true upsets of the evening, Melissa Etheridge won for the gorgeous song that underscores the message of the film — if we want this planet to thrive, we’ve all got to take care of her.

It all goes to prove there’s a lot of life (and "box office") in stories about mature people, the worlds they inhabit and those who tell the stories. 

The Academy Awards also honored Sherry Lansing, former chairwoman of Paramount Pictures, with the Hersholt Humanitarian Award. Lansing founded PrimeTime, which matches outstanding retirees with volunteer positions in California schools — another reminder of the many talents we can contribute at any age.

Plus: Upset over a favorite who didn’t win? Columnist Mary Schmich attempts to make losers feel better. When I’m feeling down, I personally hate hearing about all the other losers in the world and can’t help noting, "Excuse me, Polyanna is a fictional character …" But maybe that’s just me.

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  • laura baudo February 27, 2007 at 11:26 am

    Wonderful, wonderful synthesis of an about-time happening. Elizabeth writes with the light touch that the topic warrants and the heavyweight thinking that the larger issue demands.