NU alum wins Oscar for best live action short film

Annie Chang

The most memorable Oscar acceptance speech of Sunday night may have belonged to Northwestern graduate Luke Matheny.

The Medill grad, who graduated in 1997, received an Academy Award in the category of best live action short film for “God of Love,” Matheny’s graduate thesis at New York University’s film school. Matheny wrote and directed the film.

“God of Love,” which stars Matheny himself, tells the tale of a lounge-singing darts champion in love who one day receives a box of love-inducing darts. The film also won the National Board of Review’s Marion Carter Green Award in April 2010 and a gold medal from the Student Academy Awards.

Matheny was unavailable for comment Monday.

While he was a journalism student at NU, Matheny always had an affinity for films, said Andrew Glasgow, Communication ’98, a former hallmate of Matheny’s in Allison Hall.

“He was a huge­ – to no surprise – film boss,” he said. “He knew everything about everything about every movie. He definitely took me to school.”

Glasgow said Matheny was perhaps the friendliest person on the floor, recalling a memory he had of Matheny inviting him to see “The Shawshank Redemption” with him in Chicago when Glasgow was a freshman.

Former Medill Prof. John Kupetz, who taught Matheny in a newswriting class, said Matheny was better off not pursuing journalism.

“He was a great, a good student,” he said. “There’s somebody that could have had a journalism career, but thank goodness he didn’t want one.”

After graduating from NU, Matheny worked several jobs writing headlines and copyediting. In 1998, he and a few friends decided to shoot a movie in Paris. Although it ended with Matheny moving back into his parents’ house, the short film did land Matheny a place at NYU’s graduate film program. In 2005, his second year at NYU, he created “Earano,” a short based on “Cyrano de Bergerac.” It went on to win the King Award for Screenwriting at the 2007 First Run Festival and an honorable mention at the Angelus Student Film Festival. He is curently working on another film called “Ron Quixote.”

Matheny was a character and a joy to have in class, Kupetz said.

“He wore his creativity and his irreverence,” he said. “You looked at him, and you could tell. He wore that creativity like a Hawaiian shirt.”

His sense of humor was clear in his acceptance speech, Kupetz said.

Once on stage, Matheny declared, “I should have gotten a haircut,” referring to his curly mop of black hair, and went on to give a witty thank-you speech that drew widespread laughter from the audience.

“Finally, thank you to my mother, who did craft services for the film,” Matheny said before walking off stage.

The speech was a good representation of Matheny’s personality, Glasgow said.

“He made the most amazing, the most natural, most authentic, so ‘Luke’ speech,” he said. “It was just awesome to see. I love all those other celebrities, but they pale in comparison.”

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