How do I explain how the 90th Academy Awards went?
Well, for the most part, every award went according to plan which made the ceremony rather predictable. Also, the musical performances were slightly underwhelming due to how short they were. But the way that they honored acting legends like Eva Marie Saint and Rita Moreno before they came on stage to present were nice tributes and it was fun to guess how short everyone’s speeches would be to see who would go home with the jet ski that host Jimmy Kimmel was giving away. Other than that, it was a pretty predictable ceremony that, in terms of the winners, offered signs of progression along with some setbacks.
We’ll start off with the signs of progress. First off, The Shape Of Water managed to win Best Picture. While it may be a transcendent love story between a woman and a creature that provides throwbacks to classic cinema, it still provides political relevance because of how it depicts a disabled woman, her gay neighbor, a black woman, and a foreigner combatting a chauvinistic, Donald Trump-like figure. It was also helmed by a Mexican filmmaker, Best Director winner Guillermo Del Toro, and was co-written by a woman, Vanessa Taylor.
There were also some major wins for the LGBTQ+ community. Particularly, the openly gay James Ivory winning Adapted Screenplay for writing the queer romance Call Me By Your Name and A Fantastic Woman, the Chilean film about a trans woman played by a trans lead, winning Best Foreign Language Film.
We also saw Jordan Peele become the first black screenwriter to win Original Screenplay for Get Out and Kazuhiro Tsuji become the first Asian individual to win Best Makeup & Hairstyling for Darkest Hour. Meanwhile, Coco took home two Academy Awards: Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song for “Remember Me” written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, allowing more representation of the Latin American filmmaking community.
However, there was one major setback.
Going into the ceremony, I’m sure one question on everyone’s mind was this: How will they acknowledge #MeToo and #TimesUp?. Well, they did have Annabella Sciorra, Ashley Judd, and Salma Hayek, three women who were victimized by Harvey Weinstein, present a montage that acknowledges the need for more inclusivity in the industry and featured Mira Sorvino, another survivor of sexual misconduct at the hands of Harvey Weinstein. Also, when Frances McDormand accepted her Best Actress Oscar for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, she had every woman who was Oscar nominated get up from their seats as a way to say that more female filmmaking voices should be heard and she even called for more inclusion riders which are clauses that an actor puts into their contract to ensure more racial and gender equality in the hiring process on film sets.
However, in a ceremony that acknowledged #MeToo and #TimesUp, we still saw trophies being awarded to two men accused of sexual misconduct. Kobe Bryant, who was accused of rape back in 2003, won Best Animated Short for Dear Basketball and Gary Oldman, whose ex-wife Donya Fiorentino accused him of beating her with a telephone in 2001, took home Best Actor for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour. Hopefully, we won’t see wins like these continue because if Hollywood and the Academy want to honor the #TimesUp movement, it should be time’s up for everyone. I recognize that Gary Oldman was being awarded for “Best Performance” and not “Best Person.” But at the same time, the allegations he’s been hit with shouldn’t be taken lightly and artists like him should face repercussions like being denied the most coveted trophy in the film industry.
Overall, while we have seen signs of progression, we still have ways to go. Seeing diverse filmmakers being rewarded this year and also last year has me hopeful for what lies ahead in the future. But here’s hoping that after this year, every last person in the film industry who’s been accused of sexual misconduct will face repercussions for their behavior.