Jodie Foster's winding, emotional acceptance speech upon receiving the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes was one of the show's standout moments. The six-and-a-half-minute oration, in which Foster addressed her sexuality, her privacy, her career and her family, seemed to draw a unanimous reaction at first: one of sheer surprise.
After the initial shock subsided, two big questions hung in the air. Had Foster come out as gay? And had she announced her retirement?
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Reaction in the ballroom, and backstage, was strong, though interpretations varied.
"That was great, wasn't it?" said actor John Hawkes. "She handled herself with such grace and wit. It was really amazing." Lena Dunham said backstage: "I thought Jodie Foster's speech was mind blowingly beautiful. ... It was really a complex, interesting assessment of what it’s like to have a creative career over a long period of time."
Jessica Chastain added: "I don’t know what she was trying to relate, but I can tell you what I took from the speech, as an actress I struggle with the idea of privacy. …The actors who I respect are the ones who try hard to keep their privacy like Jodie Foster — I think when an actor is able to do that the audience is better able to accept them in different roles."
Outside the room, assessments were hardly uniform. Christy Lemire of the Associated Press wrote that "Jodie Foster came out without really coming out, and suggested she was retiring from acting without exactly saying so."
Seth Abramovitch of the Hollywood Reporter said, "If you were expecting a coming-out speech at the Golden Globes, Jodie Foster wasn't about to oblige." But, he added, "without actually saying the words 'I'm gay,' Foster acknowledged that she's never lived her life any way other than as a gay woman."
The Advocate's Diane Anderson-Minshall wrote, "The speech began a bit like a light-hearted comic interlude but was actually a serious and thoughtful combination of a coming out speech and a retirement goodbye." She added, "It was a winking nod to her fans and followers who by now know that Foster is gay."
Laura Beck of Jezebel was both stirred and perplexed by Foster's "roller coaster ride of a speech." In a post titled "Jodie Foster Comes Out in Most Amazing Awards Speech of Our Time," Beck wrote, "I think it was Jody Foster refusing to come out as she came out, and then retiring. I think? I was crying, but I wasn't sure why, and then I was laughing, but I wasn't sure why. I think maybe Jodie Foster felt the same way."
Backstage after the speech, Foster dispelled the notion that she was retiring from moviemaking. "I could never stop acting," she said. "You’d have to drag me behind a team of horses." She added, "I'd like to be directing tomorrow. But, no, I’m actually more into [acting] than I’ve ever been."
When asked by reporters what she intended to get across with her speech, Foster said, "That people change. That change is important. Hopefully, I’ll be doing different things than when I was at 3 years old or 6 years old … That work evolves."