Olivia Colman is not a household name, at least not in the United States. In fact, when she won her Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role for The Favourite, my first thought was: "Hey, that's the Broadchurch investigator." And please don't tell me you haven't seen Broadchurch. The BBC show was one of the most engrossing crime shows I've seen in some time; and if you haven't seen it, stop reading and add to your Netflix queue right now! She's also been in The Night Manager, another great show and another deadly serious role.
We'd never seen the fun side of Olivia Colman, if we'd seen her at all. And until last night, I didn't know her actual name. Now I do, and I'm pretty sure I'd like to claim her as our National Treasure. Her speech was clearly not planned, and in this wide open Oscar year, you could have seen why. She was up against Glenn Close, who'd already won this prize at the Golden Globes; along with Lady Gaga, Melissa McCarthy, and Yalitza Aparicio (for Roma, a film that was getting plenty of Best Picture buzz -- until it didn't win).
The win came as a shock to her, and her speech had everything:
On winning the Oscar at all: "This is hilarious."
On one of her competitors for the prize: "Glenn Close, you've been my idol for so long and this is not how I wanted it to be..."
On her kids who might have been watching at home in the UK, where it was the middle of the night: "My kids who are at home and watching look; and if you're not, well, kind of well done.... I sort of hope you are. This is not going to happen again."
On her husband: "He gonna cry! I'm not..."
And why end with a thank you when you can end with.... "Lady Gaga!"
And of course, there was her priceless response to the warning that she please wrap up.
After it ended, Americans wondered where Olivia Colman has been all our lives. Before Broadchurch and The Night Manager, she'd mostly been a comic actress. She'd even done commercials, as this insurance ad shows:
We're hoping to see a lot more of Olivia Colman in the future. In the meantime, I've got to agree with Dan Kois at slate.com, who said:
Her speech convinced me and everyone else watching that this world-class actor, who delivered a focused, intense performance in a demented art film, was just a regular gal with whom it’d be quite fun to have a glass of wine.
And we're buying.