By Geneva Gámez-Vallejo
As the 88th Academy Awards, one of the most racially controversial in its history, came to an end everyone seems to have agreed on one thing: Leonardo DiCaprio’s big win. After six Academy Award nominations, DiCaprio finally struck gold and took the Oscar statute home tonight for Best Actor in his leading role in “The Revenant”. Brie Larson also took home her first Oscar for Best Actress in her leading role as a mother who’s spent her life in captivity in the drama film “Room”.
Perhaps an unexpected but deserving win was for the newsroom drama “Spotlight”which won Best Picture. One of the films that seemed to be on a surprisingly winning-spree was “Mad Max: Fury Road”taking six awards for best Film Editing, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing, as well as Makeup and Hairstyling, Costume Design and Production Design.
In a ceremony that underscored -or maybe over scored race, it almost seemed like a lucky win that latinos were taking any Oscars home tonight. But reality is, it wasn’t about luck. It’s solid talent what’s merited the award to each one. Alejandro G. Iñárritu won Best Director for “The Revenant”, this being his second consecutive Oscar win in the same category. He won Best Director for “Birdman”last year, and is the first director to win consecutively in the last 65 years. This also marks the Mexican-born director’s fourth academy award. Emmanuel Lubezki also known as El Chivo Lubezki, won the gold statute for best Cinematography for “The Revenant”, this being his third back to back win in the same category. He won last year for “Birdman”in 2014 and “Gravity”in 2013. “Bear Story”won Best Short by Gabriel Soto and Pato Escala, both from Chile, making this their country’s first Academy win.
Iñárritu’s award acceptance speech made reference to the nuances offered by the racial tension that’s been a protagonist feeling for the past few weeks in Hollywood. He humbly expressed “I am very lucky to be here tonight, but unfortunately, many others haven’t had the same luck.”He continued by saying “there is a line in the film (The Revenant) that Glass says to his mixed-race son, ‘They don’t listen to you, they just see the color of your skin’, so what a great opportunity to our generation to really liberate ourselves from all prejudice and, you know, this tribal thinking, and make sure for once and forever that the color of the skin becomes as irrelevant as the length of our hair.
Some of the award highlights were performances by The Weekend, who added an elegant touch onstage as he performed “Earned It”from Fifty Shades of Grey and had fly girls dancing to what seemed to be a scene from a Cirque Du Soleil show. Vice President Joe Biden made a surprise stop at the Dolby Theatre tonight to promote a pledge against sexual abuse and harassment, followed by a performance by Lady Gaga who ended “Til It Happens To You”with a strong message against the latter with real life sexual abuse survivors onstage. You could see many faces in the audience teary eyed as the camera zoomed in on their reactions to the performance. By the way, anyone interested in learning more about this pledge can log on to www.itsonus.org for more information.
Although, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”didn’t seem to be a favorite at this Sunday’s show, an appearance by C-3PO, R2-D2 and BB-8 is definitely amongst the most talked about. Needless to say, the Minions Kevin, Stuart and Bob’s animated appearance also made some noise as, well, as minions are expected to. Another animated stage surprise were Toy Story’s Woody and Buzz Lightyear. How about some Girl Scout cookies anyone? Placed under the right spotlight, the Girl Scouts were able to raise $65,243 tonight at alone. Goes to show that even in Hollywood, diet or not, cookies will always do.
It was definitely a different kind of Oscar night with a highly anticipated commentary on race that often made the awards sit on a back burner as the compliment to a stand up comedy show that scrambled for the racially correct words inside an alphabet soup. Will it all change who gets nominated in the future? Perhaps. Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the Academy Awards board President addressed the issue previously by stating “I’d like to acknowledge the wonderful works of this year’s nominees, while we celebrate their extraordinary achievements, I am both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion. This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes.”A statement she reiterated tonight.