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Body Language at the Oscars


Jennifer Lawrence EmbarrassedLive award shows provide some great opportunities to see celebrities in unscripted moments, nervous situations or highly emotional moments. At the academy awards this year there was some great body language, microexpressions and leaked emotions (see my full guide to microexpressions here).

Here are some body language moments at the Oscars that stood out to me:

Daniel Day Lewis Embarrassed

1. Embarrassed– Jennifer Lawrence and Daniel Day Lewis

Seth MacFarlane’s monologue embarrassed quite a few stars. Jennifer Lawrence and Daniel Day Lewis both showed the classic “I’m embarrassed body language” they covered their face. We do this when we are embarrassed because we literally want to cover our eyes from seeing something that makes us uncomfortable. Actually, this is a very genuine reaction to Seth Macfarlane’s teasing from the stage.

Charlize Theron Shame2. Charlize Theron Ashamed of her Topless Scene?

Whether Charlize was acting or not during the “We Saw Your Boobs” song, she showed the universal body language expression of shame. This is when someone slightly touches the side of their forehead with their finger tips. Could she be ashamed of her topless scene?

3. Was Christoph Waltz Genuine in His Respect?Christoph Waltz Bow

Everyone always says they are honored to be nominated with their fellow nominees, but Christoph Waltz took it a step further and actually bowed during his acknowledgement of his competition. Bowing is the true sign of submission. As humans, we have done this for centuries as a nonverbal way to show the person we believe is superior to us that they are literally “above” us as we bow. You rarely see this at award shows because the attendees are the best of the best, so to see Christoph Waltz show his respect with his words AND his body language shows his true graciousness.

Sad but Happy4. Was Brave’s Katherine Sarafian Really Sad?

Some of my readers were a little confused when the camera showed Katherine Sarafian’s tearful face as she watched her colleagues on stage give their acceptance speech. This is a classic example of someone’s extreme happiness showing as a sadness microexpression. When we are extremely happy we often cry to release the pent up feelings. Congratulations Katherine Sarafian–clearly this intense moment has her almost to tears.

5. Cinematographer, Claudio Miranda Super (Authentically) Nervous

Real Nerves

Occasionally you see people feign nerves to seem more humble during their acceptance speeches. But Claudio Miranda was extremely nervous. He was gripping his Oscar, touching his hair, rubbing his hands in a self soothing gesture. And the ultimate gesture of nerves came at the end of his speech when he puffed out air and blew out his cheeks. This is what we do when we feel we have narrowly escaped something. He was surprised he won. I point this out so you can see what genuine nerves and surprise looks like. I believe many of the other winners had an inkling they would win and were only faking nerves.

6. Anne Hathaway and Sally Field…True Emotions Revealed

Sally Field SadnessWhile waiting tensely for their category of best supporting actress to be announced Anne Hathaway widens her eyes in fear. Her nerves and fear are clearly seen. Then when Anne Hathaway wins, Sally Field very briefly flashes a small microexpression of sadness before she recovers with a smile for Anne Hathaway.

The Oscars this year were relatively mild and far less hidden body language than at the Grammy’s. This is not surprising as the Oscars honors musicians, not professional actors who are very good at hiding their true emotions.

About Vanessa Van Edwards

Vanessa Van Edwards is a published author and behavioral investigator. She is a Huffington Post columnist and her courses and research has been featured on CNN, Forbes, Business Week and the Wall Street Journal. As a published Penguin author, Vanessa regularly speaks and appears in the media to talk about her research. She is a sought after consultant and speaker.


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