The 90th Academy Awards took place on Sunday, and like most awards shows these days, many high profile people used the opportunity to not only flatter their egos, but to make a political statement.
Hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, the show touched upon a number of hot button topics, with Kimmel kicking off the show by praising “Oscar” (the statue of the show) for keeping his hands off women. He then mentioned that the now infamous Harvey Weinstein has been expelled from the Academy before rightfully recognizing that the expulsion was “long overdo.”
“This is a night for positivity,” Kimmel said. “And our plan is to shine a light on a group of outstanding and inspiring films.”
Among the steps forward were the first-ever female nominee for cinematography, as well as the recognized recent enormous success of minority-led superhero film “Black Panther,” while Greta Gerwig notched the first female nominee for Best Director in eight years, among other steps forward to diversify the show — though plenty of older, white men still took home their trophies.
Taking the stage with Tiffany Haddish, Maya Rudolph said that the Oscar’s aren’t “too white” anymore, though she reassured the audience that there were still “tons of white people,” as witnessed by many of the winners.
The tops awards went to “The Shape of Water” for Best Picture, Gary Oldman for Best Actor, Frances McDormand for Best Actress, Sam Rockwell for Best Supporting Actor, Allison Janey for Best Supporting Actress — while Guillermo del Toro showed a departure from the Caucasian winners by taking home Best Director, while Jordan Peele, an African-American, won best original screenplay for “Get Out.”
At the beginning of the show, Kimmel encouraged the winners of the night to take their designated speech time to draw attention to whatever causes they felt to be important and deserving, recognizing the politically charged atmosphere.
Present at the show were movements such as “Me, Too” and “Time’s Up,” recognizing the reality of sexual harassment and assault in the workplace and Hollywood, as the elite work towards bringing awareness to these causes. Several actresses took to the stage for the “Time’s Up” movement to praise those who brought forth their truths this year, praising people who told their stories in terms of race, gender and ethnicity.
Kenyan-Mexican actress Lupita Nyong’o and Pakistani-American actor Kumail Nanjiani brought up the topic of immigration.
“Dreams are the foundation of Hollywood and dreams are the foundation of America,” said Nyong’o.
“To all the dreamers out there we stand with you,” Nanjiani added.
The films nominated overall showed a wider acceptance of race, gender and sexuality, even though the majority of the winners weren’t all too diversified.
“We don’t make films like ‘Call Me by Your Name’ to make money,” Kimmel said of the homosexual coming of age best film nominee. “We make them to upset Mike Pence.”
Though she didn’t win Best Director, Greta Gerwig represented the only female to be nominated in the category this year.
“We live in a time when now more than ever we need to understand the importance of what is real, what is authentic and what is fact,” said Gerwig, writer and director of “Lady Bird,” when introducing documentary films with actress Laura Dern.
Full of nostalgia, the show frequently interjected clips from classic films, blending them into montages with newer films to celebrate cinematic excellence throughout the years.
“For me the movies are like a machine that generates empathy,” said the late, great Roger Ebert in an old clip. “It lets you understand a little bit more about different hopes, aspirations, dreams and fears.”
The magic of cinema lies in storytelling, and the escapism quality of films allows them to hold up as a financial success no matter how hard the times are. Film, dubbed at the awards show as one of the “three universal languages,” has the power to transcend differences and broach the topic of the human condition.
The Academy Awards aren’t for everyone. Many people aren’t a fan of Hollywood, don’t support the nominees or aren’t excited to see the very rich and famous earn more recognition. But one thing we can all recognize and celebrate — even if there is still a lot of progress to be made — is that more minorities and females are finally being represented on the big screen. Films are showing more diversity in terms of race, sexuality and female leads. Sexual predators are being scrubbed out of Hollywood, and though celebrities can be tedious, many are taking up causes to strive towards awareness, equality and acceptance.
Emma Polini is the managing editor of the Van Alstyne Leader, Anna-Melissa Tribune and Prosper Press. What do you want in your paper? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to let her know.