This year marked the 90th celebration of the Academy Awards, where the past year’s best movies get recognized for their writing, design, acting, directing, and many other categories. Millions of people tune in on this annual Sunday night, expecting humor, moving speeches, and a reflection of the past year. This year did not disappoint.
In the past, there have been heavy issues with diversity at the Oscars, which display the diversity in Hollywood. Just recently at the 2015 Oscars, it happened to be the second time since 1998 where all twenty nominations in acting categories had only white people. It received much criticism, many people taking to social media where the hashtag, #OscarsSoWhite, was coined. However, in the following years, especially last year at the 2017 awards, diversity was definitively improved, as shown by the movie, Moonlight, and actors Mahershala Ali and Viola Davis.
This year, the Oscars definitely did not fail to impress. Jimmy Kimmel, the host, did a wonderful job touching upon all the movements that have happened in 2017, one of the most prominent being MeToo and TimesUp. He did not shy away from addressing the Harvey Weinstein scandal and did a good job between transitions to not make the topic uncomfortable, but instead to remind audiences that the terrible event happened. The presenters were also unafraid to voice what they supported, such as Lupita Nyong’o and Kumail Nanjiani, whose movie, The Big Sick, was nominated for Best Original Screenplay. They were the presenters for Production Design, and they started off talking about how both of them are immigrants, Lupita from Kenya and Kumail from Pakistan. Lupita continued to say, “And like everyone in this room and everyone watching at home, we are dreamers. We grew up dreaming of one day working in the movies. Dreams are the foundation of Hollywood, and dreams are the foundation of America.” In the end, Kumail Nanjiani finished with, “And so, to all the dreamers out there, we stand with you.” This in reference to the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) Dreamers that are the subject of fights between President Trump and Congress, as Trump plans to deport them.
Beyond this, we also saw a wide spectrum of diversity. There were many nominated actors of color, such as Octavia Spencer, Daniel Kaluuya, Denzel Washington, and Mary J. Blige. We also witnessed history being made, as Jordan Peele, the writer, director, and producer of the film Get Out, won Best Original Screenplay–the first African American to ever do this.
However, one of the most powerful moments of the night came when they announced Best Actress, Frances McDormand. During her speech, she put down her Oscar and asked all the females who were nominated for any categories to stand up. After moments of loud applause, she said, “Look around ladies and gentleman because we all have stories to tell and projects we need finance. Don’t talk to us about it at the parties tonight. Invite us into your office in a couple days, or you can come to ours, whichever suits you best, and we’ll tell you all about them. I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentleman: inclusion rider.”
Many were left confused after these two final words, as it has been hidden for quite a while. An inclusion rider is a requirement that actors can include in their movie contracts, which guarantees the project satisfies a certain diversity quota. Essentially, it’s a way for A-list celebrities to leverage their own power to disrupt the current system. And although the recent Oscars have shown improvement in diversity, it is clear that there still is a long way to go. After all, the number of actors being hired are still far from accurately representing the true ethnic makeup of America. Now, Frances McDormand is suggesting this to be a solution to the biased system.
This year’s Oscars were definitely one of the most inclusive shows so far, ranging from topics such as immigration and sexual harassment to the celebration of Latin American culture. There were the perfect amounts of comedic and touching moments, regardless of who won. There is still some speculation about the fairness of the Oscars, but the good news is that there is a huge push in the right direction, as shown by this year. With amazing new movies, such as Black Panther, coming out in 2018, excitement already builds upon next year’s Academy Awards and this new age of representation and diversity.