While host Jimmy Kimmel made few political jokes and mentioned the Hollywood sex scandals at Sunday night’s 90th Academy Awards, the big statements came mostly from the stars who took the stage throughout the night. Inclusion, representation and female empowerment were the overriding themes of the night.
Ashley Judd, Annabella Sciorra and Salma Hayek took the stage together to comment on #MeToo. “The changes we are witnessing are being driven by the powerful sound of new voices, of different voices, of our voices, joining together in a mighty chorus that is finally saying, ‘Time’s Up,’” said Judd.
Judd also spoke about working together to “make sure that the next 90 years empower these limitless possibilities of equality, diversity, inclusion, intersectionality…that’s what this year has promised us.” That was the intro to a montage of this year’s groundbreaking nominees, among them directing nominees Greta Gerwig and Jordan Peele, and screenwriting nominee Kumail Nanjiani.
Also on the female empowerment tip, presenters Jane Fonda and Helen Mirren spoke about how many changes there have been in Hollywood since they first started their career in the sixties. Emma Stone introduced the Best Director category by saying, “It is the vision of the director that takes an ordinary movie and turns it into a work of art. These four men and Greta Gerwig created their own masterpieces this year.”
In her acceptance speech, Frances McDormand called for every female nominee in the room and stand up, and then suggested that everyone ask for an “Inclusion rider,” which is something an actor can put into their contract to demand for at least 50 percent diversity in the cast and crew of a film.
It wasn’t just women who were talking about inclusion. When the movie Coco — which takes place in Mexico — was named Best Animated Feature, director Lee Unkrich said, “With Coco, we tried to take a step forward toward a world where all children can grow up seeing characters in movies that look and talk and live like they do. Marginalized people deserve to feel like they belong. Representation matters.”
And in his performance of “Stand Up for Something,” the Best Original Song nominee from the movie Marshall, Oscar-winning rapper Common rhymed, “Tell the NRA they’re in God’s way/and to the people of Parkland we say asé.” That’s a Yoruba word meaning “the power to get things done.”
Common also rhymed, “These days we dance between love and hate/A president that chose with hate/He don’t control our fate/Because God is great/When they go low, we stay in the heights/I stand for peace, love and women’s rights.”
We Stand with Dreamers
Immigrants and so-called “Dreamers,” or DACA recipients, were also shouted out a number of times. A number of presenters and winners made reference to being immigrants, and in one segment, Lupita Nyong’o and Kumail Nanjiani specifically declared their support for Dreamers.
“Like everyone in this room and everyone watching at home, we are dreamers,” Nyong’o said. “We grew up dreaming of one day working in the movies. Dreams are the foundation of Hollywood, and dreams are the foundation of America.”
“To all the Dreamers out there, we stand with you,” Nanjiani added.
Gender Glass Geiling Shattered
History was made quietly in the Best Foreign Language Film category, when Chile’s A Fantastic Woman took the prize. The movie is the first Oscar winner to feature a transgender story line with an openly trans actor in the lead role. The movie’s star, Daniela Vega, was also Oscars first trans presenter.
Sports Star Speaks Out
Kobe Bryant won the Oscar for Best Animated Short for Dear Basketball, and while onstage, he referenced the controversy between Cavaliers star LeBron James and Fox News host Laura Ingraham.
After James and fellow player Kevin Durant discussed social and political issues, Ingraham said that players should “shut up and dribble.” But onstage, Kobe said, “As basketball players, we’re really supposed to shut up and dribble. But I’m glad we do a little bit more than that.”
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