Surprises at the Academy Awards
March 3, 2017
Last Sunday night, history was made, and not because of a misplaced envelope.
The 89th Annual Academy Awards took place Sunday, February 26th at the Dolby Theatre at the Hollywood and Highland Center in Los Angeles. It was televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.
History was made when “Moonlight” became the first film with an entirely African American cast to win the Best Picture Award. The movie had also the lowest film budget, only $1.6 million, in comparison with other nominees such as “La La Land”, with a $30 million budget, or “Arrival”, with a $47 million, budget.
Jimmy Kimmel, this year’s host, targeted Donald Trump with some jokes , taking advantage of the power of social media, by tweeting directly at him while onstage.
A night full of memorable moments, social unity and emotional speeches, led to a pro freedom of speech event, in which Mexican actor Gael García stated that “as a Mexican, as a Latin American, as a migrant worker, as a human being, I’m against any form of wall that wants to separate us,” making the most of his time on stage, to address the audience and viewers from all over the world, representing the Latino community’s feel about the President’s plan of dividing both countries.
“La La Land” earned 14 nominations including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Song and Actor and Actress nods for Ryan and Emma, having the most Oscar nominations of all time, equaling “Titanic” and “All About Eve” record winning six Oscars, including best director. It was definitely Damien Chazelle’s night, being the youngest filmmaker in history earning the award. He thanked his fellows nominees, his wife and John Legend, who performed both nominated for Best Original Song, “City of Stars and Audition (The Fools Who Dream)”, as part of the performances for all the nominated songs, where Justin Timberlake, Sting, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Auli’I Cravalho took the stage as well.
A new favorite section came to screen when actors like Charlize Theron, Javier Bardem and Seth Rogen, narrated how cinema and a particular movie changed their lives, by getting inspired from the actors in it, walking together through stage to present category nominees, where Shirley McLaine, Meryl Streep and Michael J. Fox were honored with standing ovations.
An acceptance speech caused a strong round of applause and smiles between the audience, when Kevin O’Connell, winner for Best Sound Mixing thanked his mother by saying “Thirty nine years ago, my mother got me a job in sound and when I asked her how could I ever thank her, she said ‘you can work really hard and then someday you will win yourself an Oscar and stand on that stage to thank me in front of the whole world.’”
“Moonlight” won with three awards: Best Supporting Actor, given to Mahershala Ali, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Picture. This film is the first LGBTQ movie to win the Oscar, sending an important message to the film industry about embracing inclusive stories, in order to remain relevant.
“Moonlight”, written and directed by Barry Jenkins, centers around the life of Chiron across three defining chapters of his life, starting out as a young black man growing up in turbulent Miami, it follows his ongoing struggles with his sexuality and unstable family life through his teenage years and into manhood making a deep inspection into finding himself.
Jenkins worked closely with award-winning playwright Tarrell Alvin McCraney, who wrote a sketch of the play “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue” while in drama school. The play was deeply personal to him, and as it turned out, to Jenkins too. They both grew up in the Liberty City neighborhood of Miami, the same place as their characters. Both of their mothers were addicts and HIV-positive, like the protagonist’s mother. Jenkins is straight, McCraney is gay, and while the play wasn’t published or produced, Jenkins ran across it and thought it would make a great film.
When it comes to speaking from the heart, Viola Davis excels at it. During her acceptance speech for her performance in Fences, Davis offered an ode to artists by stating that they are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life.