Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Diversity, representation, inclusion, and fantasy all winners at the 90th Academy Awards

I told my readers to "Stay tuned for a post about the Oscar winners" at the end of 'The Emoji Movie' the biggest winner (loser) at the 2018 Razzie Awards.  I think it has been worth the wait for them, as the ceremony was a good night for two things I care about, social progress and speculative fiction, in that order.

First, let's get the announcement of the winners out of the way.  Courtesy of Brian Sanchez on YouTube, here are The 90th Academy Awards Winners!

See who took home the Oscars.

I want to get fantasy out of the way.  The big winner was "The Shape of Water" with four Oscars, Best Picture, Best Director, Original Score, and Production Design.  Two speculative fiction movies won two awards each, "Blade Runner 2049" earning Cinematography and Visual Effects and "Coco" winning Animated Feature Film and Original Song.  Two other speculative fiction films won one Oscar each, "Get Out" for Original Screenplay and "Dear Basketball" for Animated Short Film.  That's a total of ten awards out of the nineteen categories in which speculative fiction films were nominated.  That's definitely better than the six wins out of sixteen nominations speculative fiction films earned last year and better in an absolute sense than the nine wins out of fifteen nominations in 2016, most of which went to "Mad Max: Fury Road."

I'll discuss the speculative fiction movies more later.*  Follow over the jump for the social progress on display.

CBS This Morning had a report on one aspect, Women take center stage at Oscars 2018.
The 90th Academy Awards looked a lot like the other 89, with most of the winners being men. But the focus was on women right from the start of the ceremony. "Entertainment Tonight's" Kevin Frazier reports.
Unfortunately, they took it not even 24 hours after it was posted. ABC still has the crucial moment in Frances McDormand's Oscar 2018 Acceptance Speech for Best Actress.

Watch Frances McDormand's Oscar 2018 acceptance speech for Best Actress in THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI at the 90th Academy Awards. She delivered a powerful speech asking all female nominees to stand with her in solidarity. See the acceptance speech transcript below:

"So, I think this is what Chloe Kim must have felt like after doing back to back 1080s in the Olympic half pipe, did you see that? Okay, that's what it feels like. I want to thank Martin McDonagh, look what you did. We are a bunch of hooligans, and anarchists, but we do clean up nice. I want to thank every single person in this building. And my sister, Dorothy, I love you, Dot. And I especially want to thank my clan. Joel and Pedro McCoen, these two stalwart individuals were well-raised by their feminist mothers. They value themselves, each other and those around them. I know you are proud of me, and that fills me with everlasting joy. And now, I want to give some perspective. If I may be so honored to have all the female nominees in every category stand with me in this room tonight. The actors—Meryl, if you do it everyone else will—the filmmakers, the producers, the directors, the writers, the cinematographers, the composers, the song writers, the designers. Come on! Okay, look around everybody, look around, ladies and gentleman because we all have stories to tell and projects we need financed. 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 can tell you all about them. I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentleman, inclusion rider."
The last time I remember a moment like this, it was Patricia Arquette asking for equal pay for equal work at the Oscars three years ago.  It looks like the field of battle for gender equality has expanded since then.

The showcasing of women at Sunday's awards displayed one aspect of diversity, representation, and inclusion.  Wochit Entertainment highlighted another in Oscars Wins Hailed By Mexicans As Sign Of Cultural Sway.

Mexican director Guillermo del Toro’s Oscars triumph and a win by animated film “Coco” were hailed by Mexicans on Monday as a sign of their nation’s cultural sway in the United States. This despite growing tensions under U.S. President Donald Trump. Del Toro’s best director win for his “The Shape of Water,” a fable about the mistreatment of the powerless, marked the fourth time a Mexican had taken home the award in the last five years. It the success of Alfonso Cuaron and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. The accolades from Hollywood for Mexican filmmakers stands in contrast to Trump’s repeated attacks on the United States’ southern neighbor. Those attacks began when he launched his campaign by saying Mexican immigrants were rapists and murderers.
Well, that certainly puts things in proper political perspective.

On another dimension of diversity, Jordan Peele won the first Oscar for Original Screenplay by an African-American.  Watch his Oscar 2018 acceptance speech for Best Original Screenplay.

Watch Jordan Peele's Oscar 2018 acceptance speech for Best Original Screenplay for his movie Get Out at the 90th Academy Awards. This was the first Oscar win for Peele, he said, "This means so much to me. I stopped writing this movie 20 times because I thought... no one would ever make this movie." This is a historic win as Peele is the first black writer to win an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

In Get Out, photographer Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) is nervous about meeting his girlfriend Rose's parents for the first time, especially when he learns that she has not told them that he is black. Their awkward behavior, along with the oddness exhibited by their two African-American servants, puts Chris on alert but even so, he is unprepared for the family's true motivations.
Peele was not the only African-American to accept an award on Sunday.  Watch Kobe Bryant Oscars 2018 Speech for Best Animated Short Film - Dear Basketball.

Watch Kobe Bryant and Glen Keane's Oscar 2018 acceptance speech for his short film DEAR BASKETBALL at the 90th Academy Awards. In his speech, Keane says, "Thank you to Kobe for writing Dear Basketball. It's a message for all of us: whatever form your dream may take, it's through passion and perseverance that the impossible is possible." Bryant then joked saying, “I mean, as basketball players we're really supposed to shut up and dribble, but I'm glad we do a little bit more than that.”
Yes, those are three of the actors in "The Last Jedi" presenting the award.  Also, seeing Kobe up there points out the irony of calling his film a short subject.  Sorry, couldn't resist, just like he couldn't resist making a political aside.  Hey, he's right.

ABC News Radio via KWBE reported more on the social and political aspects of the night.
[I]n his performance of “Stand Up for Something,” the Best Original Song nominee from the movie Marshall, Oscar-winning rapper Common rhymed, “Tell the NRA they’re in God’s way/and to the people of Parkland we say asé.”  That’s a Yoruba word meaning “the power to get things done.”

Common also rhymed, “These days we dance between love and hate/A president that chose with hate/He don’t control our fate/Because God is great/When they go low, we stay in the heights/I stand for peace, love and women’s rights.”
Immigrants and so-called “Dreamers,” or DACA recipients, were also shouted out a number of times.  A number of presenters and winners made reference to being immigrants, and in one segment, Lupita Nyong’o and Kumail Nanjiani specifically declared their support for Dreamers.

“Like everyone in this room and everyone watching at home, we are dreamers,” Nyong’o said. “We grew up dreaming of one day working in the movies. Dreams are the foundation of Hollywood, and dreams are the foundation of America.”

“To all the Dreamers out there, we stand with you,” Nanjiani added.
History was made quietly in the Best Foreign Language Film category, when Chile’s A Fantastic Woman took the prize.  The movie is the first Oscar winner to feature a transgender story line with an openly trans actor in the lead role.  The movie’s star, Daniela Vega, was also Oscars first trans presenter.
In addition, the two live action short subject winners examined disability.  The Documentary Short winner, "Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405," told the story of an female artist who struggled with mental illness.  "The Silent Child," the winner of the Live Action Short Film, was about the struggles of a deaf girl.  Watch THE SILENT CHILD Oscars 2018 Acceptance Speech for Short Film (Live Action).

Watch Chris Overton and Rachel Shenton's Oscar 2018 acceptance speech for Short Film (Live Action) for THE SILENT CHILD at the 90th Academy Awards.
That made two movies with stars who communicated in sign language winners, the other being "The Shape of Water."  Sex, ethnicity, race, gender, and disability -- that's a pretty thorough examination of diversity, representation, and inclusion.  It's also a big improvement from "Oscars so white" just two years ago.

*I plan on writing about the political implications of "Icarus" winning Best Documentary Feature, the political themes in some of the Live Action Short Films and Documentary Short nominees, and finally comparing my predictions from 'The Shape of Water' and 'Blade Runner 2049' lead speculative fiction nominees at the Oscars and other entries with reality.  Stay tuned.


  1. In all honesty, is it any wonder that the TV viewership for the Oscar ceremony is at an all-time low? They come across like they're saying "look how cool we are for giving a bunch of awards to minorities" rather than celebrating the fact that these movies really are good enough to deserve those awards, which they are. They're giving the impression that awards are being handed out based on some kind of quota mentality in order to appear "diverse" enough. It detracts from the actual brilliance of what Peele and del Toro created.

    I can understand Mexicans hailing the success of Mexican movies in the US, especially given the surge of crude hatred that Trump embodies and whips up -- but that's a legitimate pride in achievement. They'd probably be insulted if it were to be dismissed as just "embracing diversity".

    1. I'm sure that didn't help. However, I think the real problem is that the most popular movie nominated for Best Picture was "Dunkirk," which is in 14th place in the annual box office for 2017. Next was "Get Out" in 15th place. The highest grossing film released last year, "The Last Jedi," was nominated in only four categories and lost all of them. The second highest grossing movie wasn't nominated for any awards! The audience had nothing to root for!