Jane Stephens won our hearts in her Oscar-winning role.
Amid unfavorable press coverage on its liberal arts cutbacks, a bright star has arisen from one of TU’s many sunsetted programs. One of the University of Tulsa’s own, Jane Stephens, has won an Oscar for her recent performance at the university. However, her work was not with one of the theatre department’s lovely productions, but in Keplinger Hall.
For the first time in their history, the Academy has accepted work outside of the standard format — reels of film for the specific, uniquely formatted Academy-owned projector — and instead accepted a series of ten-second videos. These videos, known to the general public as a Snapchat stories, were presented to the Academy by TU lobbiers as “mini-scenes,” stating each clip was designated to capture a specific emotion.
When the Academy commented on the shaky nature of this submission, TU stated that, by working from the context of found footage, which is naturally shaky and a common feature of low budget tales like this, Jane’s struggle was hinted to be horrific, and (spoiler warning) pointless.
The film starts quite simply. Jane walks into an office. She seems nervous, hesitant. Suddenly, the camera shows us the villain of the film: Professor Donningtonham. One look at his office through the cracked open door that frames the scene and it becomes obvious that he is not kind. The spotless desk and perfectly framed awards betray the strictness we will soon see in our villain.
Then, Jane speaks, and it becomes obvious why she won the Oscar for Best Dramatic Performance in a Film. She is eloquent and dedicated to her cause: getting her grade raised. Jane has one central problem in this film and it is one that many TU students can relate to. She is teetering on the edge between a D and an A and needs her professor to be lenient and help her keep her scholarships.
In her charismatic performance, Jane uses all the persuasive appeals that a professor should like. Jane first tries logos: Donningtonham missed one of her emails about an assignment and she couldn’t turn it in without knowing what font the lab report had to be in. When this doesn’t work, she escalates: ethically, she knew of several students who had their grade rounded up one point, and honestly, what was 21 more? It’s only fair.
Then, when all these failed, Jane brought out pathos and opened up the floodgates. As Jane sobbed at Donningtonham’s desk, it became abundantly clear just what this video was intended as: Oscar bait. Unfortunately for Jane, all of these tactics failed. At the very end of the film, Donningtonham’s often-quoted line appears: “Honey, you must think I’m 22 to believe I would ever raise your grade that much. Come to class if you want to pass.”
So there lay Jane, an Oscar winner (though she did not know yet) who had failed Pre-Calculus. At least now she can say she won an Oscar before she had to drop out of TU. That ought to have some weight, right?