This past Sunday at the Nokia Theatre in Hollywood, the most important night in Western cinema was held, the 88th Annual Academy Awards. This year’s event was one of the most anticipated Oscar’s ceremonies in years. Of course, this wasn’t just because of some of the great movies and performances nominated, but also because of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy that has surrounded the ceremony since nominations were announced back in January. For those of you who don’t know the hashtag on Twitter brought to light the lack of diversity of the Oscar nominees. It was pointed out many on Twitter that this was the 2nd year in a row in which only white actors were nominated. Some also pointed out that the critically acclaimed “Straight Outta Compton”, which had a mostly black cast, was not nominated for the Best Picture category. Black actors such as Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith boycotted the ceremony as well as director Spike Lee.
Many were eager to see what host Chris Rock would have to say about the controversy, as he chose not to boycott his hosting gig. Rock tackled the issues head on, with the first line of his monologue being ‘Welcome to the 88th Annual Academy Awards, otherwise known as the white people’s choice awards’. However Rock did not shy away from addressing those who boycotted the awards, suggesting Jada Pinkett Smith’s boycott of the ceremony did not have much impact as she wasn’t invited. He also got some laughs making light of the fact that this would certainly not be the first year all whites actors were nominated for the awards, as it likely happened throughout the 50s and 60s. Many felt admiration for Rock for not shying away from these controversial issues as host of the ceremony.
Moving on from the controversy, as usual the Oscars produced many big winners throughout the night as well as some surprises. One of these surprises was Sylvester zest alone losing the Best Supporting Actor Oscar to British actor Mark Rylance. Rylance won for his portrayal of Soviet intelligence officer Rudolf Abel in “Bridge of Spies”. Stallone had been the favorite to win the Oscar since winning the Best a supporting Actor – Drama award at the Golden Globes for his portrayal of Rocky Balboa in the film “Creed”. Another surprise of the night came from “Spotlight”, a film looking at how Journalists from The Boston Globe uncovered a sex abuse scandal at a local church, won the prestigious Best Picture Award. This came as a shock after Alejandro G. Iñárritu took home the Best Director award for “The Revenant”. Unsurprisingly, “The Room”‘s Brie Larson won Best Actress in a Leading Role, presented to her by last year’s Best Actor in a Leading Role winner Eddie Redmayne. Also taking home the award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, was Redmayne’s co-star in “The Danish Girl”, Alicia Vikander. Fans on Twitter were also very pleased to see Pixar’s “Inside Out” win for Best Animated Feature Film. Best Picture winner “Spotlight” also won the award for Best Original Screenplay with The Big Short winning its only award of its 5 nominations.
However, it seemed the award that was by far the most anticipated of the night was certainly the Best Actor in a Leading Role award. Leonardo Dicaprio was by far the favorite to take home his first acting Oscar after five nominations, for playing Hugh Glass in “The Revenant”. However, some had predicted dark horse Eddie Redmayne to take home his second Leading Actor Oscar in a row for his performance in “The Danish Girl”, he had previously won last year for portraying Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything”. However, the stars were finally aligned for DiCaprio as he won his first ever Oscar, much to the approval of his fans on Twitter! With tears in his eyes, the 41 year-old took the opportunity to publicly speak about a subject he has been an activist for for years, the environment. DiCaprio used his platform, with the world watching him to declare ‘Climate change is real it is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species’. He also urged others to support leaders who were willing to take action against climate change and support the environment. He closed his speech stating ‘Let us not take this planet for granted, I do not take tonight for granted, thank you so very much’.
So in a night admits controversy, which was justly addressed, the night still produced some deserving winners, emotional speeches, and another very memorable Oscars ceremony. Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaac stated on the Red carpet before the event , ‘it’s all of our responsibility to make sure that diversity does happen’. Both Viola Davis and Chris Rock have highlighted the issue about opportunity for other actors, but the question is to whom? What about creating your own opportunities instead of waiting at the gate? Spike Lee didn’t wait, nor did Ice Cube…who’s embarking on building a movie studio by the way.
Statistics has shown that despite Black people are the predominant consumers when it comes to movies, the power holds in the hands of white males, as in light of the Academy’s 78% of the voters are male and 84% are white. The last time an Asian person won was almost approximately over 40 years ago. Since then, the Asians have gone to develop their own film industry on their continent, with Bollywood being the prime leader and second behind Hollywood. Remember Bruce Lee…
The issue about diversity is nothing new, but it has created a sense of market opportunity for Black people and other races to internally to actually build their own world or ‘wood’ so to speak, where their achievements are respected. The Oscars may in the future allow a few ‘non-white’ actors to reflect that they’re diverse (through lip-service), but the future still remains among a few who refuse to bulge with the times and continue to keep their superiority through image.
So let them keep having their awards.
On the bright side, at least Chris Rock got the predominately audience to check themselves.