Oscars So Diverse
An Asian, a Hispanic and two African-Americans all won Oscars at the 90th Academy Awards last night, which discarded old traditions for new ones. Gone was the Academy president’s customary speech with longer monologues padding out the biggest night in show business. Host Jimmy Kimmel wasted no time in addressing issues of the previous year when “La La Land” was initially announced as the best picture winner instead of “Moonlight.” “This year, when you hear your name called,” he told potential award winners, “don’t get up right away.”
Kazuhiro Tsuji was the first winner of the evening nabbing an award for best makeup for “Darkest Hour” and making Tsuji, the first Japanese to receive the award for the film, which follows British wartime leader Winston Churchill. “I don’t want to think about the fact that I’m Asian. I’m just doing what I love to do,” Tsuji told reporters backstage. “So, I hope everyone feels that way because as soon as we start to think what the race we are, it’s not good. It doesn’t work that well.”
Guillermo del Toro’s fantasy romance “The Shape of Water“ which had the most nominations picked up four honors — including the night’s big prize, best picture. Del Toro took home best director for his film, which also won for original score and production design. After ensuring he double-checked the envelope to ensure it wasn’t a gaffe, the Mexican director dedicated his award to every young filmmaker.
“I was a kid enamored with movies, and growing up in Mexico I thought this could never happen. It happens. This is a door, kick it open and come in.”
Kobe Bryant won his first Oscar for the animated short “Dear Basketball,” based on a poem he wrote in 2015 announcing his impending retirement from basketball and Jordan Peele became the first African-American to take original screenplay for the horror film “Get Out.”
Backstage, Peele addressed the question of whether there would be a sequel to the horror-comedy film that explores racism in America and has grossed a massive $252,434,250 worldwide. “I’ve often joked that if there is, it will take place at an awards show where, you know, it might look something like this.”
There were extensive monologues from several presenters including Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph who made light of this year’s diversity and Lupita Nyong’o, Kumail Nanjiani who used the stage to show support for the Dreamers living in the United States.
Frances McDormand received best actress for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Chile’s “A Fantastic Woman” was named best foreign-language film and the best supporting actor went to Sam Rockwell for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Gary Oldman won best actor for playing Winston Churchill in “The Darkest Hour,” and Allison Janney earned her first Academy Award for supporting actress for playing Tonya Harding’s mother in the biopic “I, Tonya.”
The Oscars are still predominately white, but much has changed after the #OscarsSoWhite controversy of previous years and we are seeing more diversity on stage with minority actors, writers and directors being nominated and earning Oscars in multiple categories this year.
Samantha Ofole-Prince is an entertainment industry specialist and contributes to Trendy Africa Magazine from Los Angeles. Photos courtesy of Royalty Image and A.M.P.A.S.