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Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Sunday, February 24th, 2019

2019 Oscars impressions: America got a shorter, more diverse ceremony to enjoy

#OscarsSoWhite? Not this year!

The Acad­e­my of Motion Pic­ture Arts and Sci­ences, which has been exten­sive­ly crit­i­cized in recent years for a lack of racial diver­si­ty with­in its ranks, took major steps to make sure that this year’s Oscars would be as diverse and inclu­sive as pos­si­ble, with a record num­ber of peo­ple of col­or pre­sent­ing and accept­ing awards. The result was an awards cer­e­mo­ny that was more rep­re­sen­ta­tive and rel­e­vant to not only the Amer­i­can view­ing pub­lic, but to a glob­al audi­ence as well.

The night start­ed with the Best Sup­port­ing Actress award going to Regi­na King for her role in “If Beale Street Could Talk,” adapt­ed from the nov­el by not­ed African-Amer­i­can writer James Bald­win. With the win, King became just the third black actress to have won both an Acad­e­my Award and a Prime­time Emmy Award.

Fol­low­ing King’s win, two more black women set records. Ruth Carter became the first black woman to win an Oscar for cos­tume design, for her work on “Black Pan­ther,” and Han­nah Beach­ler won for pro­duc­tion design on the same film.

“Black Pan­ther” also won the award for Best Orig­i­nal Score and was nom­i­nat­ed for Best Pic­ture, Best sound Mix­ing, and Best Sound Editing.

Spike Lee, nom­i­nat­ed for the fifth time, won his first Oscar for best adapt­ed screen­play for “BlacK­kKlans­man.” In his speech, he remind­ed every­one that the 2020 elec­tions are “just around the cor­ner” and that every­one needs to do every­thing they can to mobi­lize and come togeth­er to choose “love over hate.”

When intro­duc­ing “BlacK­kKlans­man” as one of the nom­i­nees for the best film award ear­li­er in the cer­e­mo­ny, Acad­e­my Award win­ning singer and actress Bar­bara Streisand stressed how the film is based on a true sto­ry, say­ing: “Truth is espe­cial­ly pre­cious today,” get­ting appre­cia­tive applause from the audience.

Her state­ment was no doubt a ref­er­ence to the cur­rent Pres­i­dent and the lack of con­cern for truth shown by him, his admin­is­tra­tion, and his followers.

Con­gress­man John Lewis received a long stand­ing ova­tion when he helped intro­duce Best Pic­ture nom­i­nee and even­tu­al win­ner “Green Book.

The film also won for Best Orig­i­nal Screen­play and Maher­sha­la Ali won his sec­ond Best Sup­port­ing Actor Oscar for his role in the film.

“The whole sto­ry is about love. It’s about lov­ing each oth­er despite our dif­fer­ences,” said direc­tor Peter Far­rel­ly, in accept­ing the Best Pic­ture award.

”Green Book” has faced some crit­i­cism for roman­ti­ciz­ing the rela­tion­ship between the real life main char­ac­ters, and for the sto­ry fit­ting a “white sav­ior” trope.

Also rais­ing eye­brows was the Acad­e­my’s head-scratch­ing deci­sion to put Ali in the Best Sup­port­ing Actor cat­e­go­ry and Vig­go Mortensen in the Best Actor cat­e­go­ry, rather than the oth­er way around. (Ali did win in his cat­e­go­ry; Mortensen did not.)

The Mex­i­can film “Roma” also won many awards, includ­ing Best Cin­e­matog­ra­phy, Best For­eign Lan­guage film, and Alfon­so Cuarón won for Best Direc­tor. Cuarón shared a long hug with last year’s win­ner, Guiller­mo del Toro, also from Mexico.

Cuarón thanked the Acad­e­my for “rec­og­niz­ing a film cen­tered around an immi­grant woman – one of the 70 mil­lion peo­ple around the world with­out work­ers’ rights,” and then in Span­ish said thank you to his fam­i­ly and to Mexico.

In his accep­tance speck for the Best For­eign Lan­guage Film award, he also talked about the ”invis­i­ble labor of immi­grants and women.”

There were also some oth­er ground­break­ing moments for gen­der equi­ty, such as “Peri­od. End of Sen­tence.” win­ning for Best Doc­u­men­tary Short Subject.

”I can’t believe a film about men­stru­a­tion just won an Oscar!” exclaimed Melis­sa Berton, one of the pro­duc­ers, dur­ing her accep­tance speech.

Nike also debuted an ad dur­ing the tele­cast that stars Ser­e­na Williams, and notes how women are judged more harsh­ly than men for their emo­tions in sports. Williams also was a pre­sen­ter at the awards.

Lady Gaga, along with col­lab­o­ra­tors, won her first Oscar for Best Orig­i­nal Song for “Shal­low” from “A Star is Born.”

Also win­ning mul­ti­ple awards was “Bohemi­an Rhap­sody”. Rami Malek won for his por­tray­al of Fred­die Mer­cury, the gay front­man of leg­endary rock band Queen.

“We made a film about a gay man, an immi­grant, who lived his life just unapolo­get­i­cal­ly him­self,” Malek said dur­ing his accep­tance speech. “I am the son of immi­grants from Egypt, a first-gen­er­a­tion Amer­i­can,” he said to applause. “And part of my sto­ry is being writ­ten right now. The fact that I’m cel­e­brat­ing him and this sto­ry with you tonight is proof that we’re long­ing for sto­ries like this.”

Kudos to the Acad­e­my for doing a bet­ter job of nom­i­nat­ing and award­ing a more diverse array of peo­ple who bring films to life, who more accu­rate­ly rep­re­sent all of human­i­ty and our inter­con­nect­ed world com­mu­ni­ty. More Oscars like this, please!

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