One of the most powerful women in the country stepped into the spotlight to announce Oscar’s biggest prize — the award for best picture — even though she wasn’t in the auditorium, or anywhere near Hollywood.
When Jack Nicholson walked on stage at evening’s end, before the best picture pronouncement, he quipped how the academy tradition is for the award to be announced by a solo presenter.
But Nicholson stunned the crowd when he said, “It’s my pleasure to introduce live from the White House, the first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama.”
On a huge screen above him, Michelle Obama appeared via satellite in a gala shiny gray dress, backed by several young people in formal military uniform.
Said Obama, “Thank you, Jack, and welcome to the White House, everyone. I am so honored to introduce this year’s nominees,” noting that she was excited to celebrate films that “lift our spirits, broaden our minds and transport us to places we can never imagine.”
Saying that it had been an exciting year for movies, Obama said the best picture nominees “took us back in time and all around the world. They made us laugh, they made us weep and they made us grip our armrests.”
She continued to praise the nominees, saying that the films “taught us that love can endure against all odds.”
She said all the movies incorporated lessons that “apply to all of us no matter who we are, what we look like, where we come from and who we love.” Obama added that the nominees would have special value for young people, to inspire them “every day to reach their dream.”
Smiling, Obama then turned over the announcement of the nominees to a grinning Nicholson.
And if anyone watching wondered whether Obama was actually appearing live, she returned to the broadcast with an envelope to announce the best picture — “Argo.”
To many Hollywood big shots, the moment may have trumped former President Bill Clinton’s surprise appearance at the Golden Globes to introduce best picture nominee “Lincoln.”