Issues overshadow Oscars awards ceremony



Mike Burvee

Two themes ruled Oscars night: “Mad Max” winning awards and celebrities intoning the importance of diversity. 

Chris Rock began the night by addressing the topic that made this years’ Oscars more of a societal issue than others, that topic was lack of diversity in the nominations. 

“Have black categories,” Rock suggested. “The only way that black actors and actresses will have a chance to be nominated is if there are black categories.”

Rock said that Hollywood is racist, but it’s only a mild racism compared to that of today’s society. He also made a comment about how Hollywood is also sexist when it comes to women.

“It’s not about boycotting the Awards. We just want the opportunity,” Rock said.“You can’t ask about what a woman wears anymore in detail. Men don’t have that issue because they all wear the same thing.”

After awards for Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay were handed out, it was back to jabbing the Oscars Committee with more black humor. Some of the nominations for best picture were shown, but in place of the main actor and actress a black actor and actress were shown instead to show the somewhat humorous difference it would have made to the movie.

Two such examples were Rock in place of Matt Damon in “The Martian” as well as Tracy Morgan taking place of Eddie Redmayne in “The Danish Girl.”

Throughout the night, Rock, along with others, took shots at the Oscars Committee. One other big name that came out to voice his opinion was Kevin Hart. He went with the same approach as Chris Rock when mentioning how no black actors or actresses were nominated. 

“Don’t let the lack of diversity here stop us (black community). Keep working hard and do what you do,” Hart said.

Some other important names came out on stage to give their thoughts, as well, including the President of the Academy Awards of Arts and Sciences, Cheryl Boone Isaacs.

“Inclusion makes us all stronger. It’s not enough to just listen and agree. We must take action,” Isaacs said. “Our audiences are rich in global diversity, and every facet of our industry should be as well.”

Another well-known face at the Oscars, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, spoke out about the issue of diversity, as well. He wasn’t just addressing the lack of nominees for black actors/actresses, he was speaking about all minorities that don’t have the chance to be fairly nominated.

“Color of skin should become as irrelevant as the length of our hair,” he said.

Following Isaac’s speech, Dave Grohl played a cover of “Blackbird” by the Beatles while a montage of names of prominent members of the industry who died in the past year played. Alan Rickman, Christopher Lee, David Bowie and Leonard Nimoy were some popular faces amongst many others included in the montage.

Racial diversity wasn’t the only issue brought to attention at the Oscars. Vice President Joe Biden came out on stage to talk about sexual assault and the responsibility Americans have to put an end to it. 

“We need to change the culture when it comes to sexual assault by intervening when consent isn’t given or isn’t an option,” Biden said.

Biden went on to introduce Lady Gaga, who sang “Till It Happens to You” which was also nominated for best original song in the film “The Hunting Ground,” a documentary on colleges’ handling of sexual abuse cases.  The song was about surviving sexual assault and featured many survivors who were brought on stage with words such as “survivor” and “not my fault” written on their arms.

Another issue that was brought up was that of climate change and how it’s a major factor in today’s world. Leonardo DeCaprio, while giving his winning speech for Best Actor in a Leading Role in “The Revenant,” mentioned that the human race needs to be more aware of the issues of climate change and how it’s affecting the Earth.

“’The Revenant’ was made to show the relationship between man and nature. Climate change is the most urgent threat to the world, not only to us but to the indigenous peoples of the world as well. We can’t just take this planet for granted.”

Whether or not the jabs made at the Committee throughout the Awards will truly hit home to Hollywood remains to be seen but there is promise. One such promise that the Committee is making is to double the number of diverse members on its panel. Amongst all his comments about racial diversity Chris Rock ended the Awards by simply saying “Black lives matter”.

2016 Academy Award Winners:

Best Original Screenplay – “Spotlight”

Best Adapted Screenplay – “The Big Short”

Best Supporting Actress – Alicia Vikander (“The Danish Girl”)

Best Costume Design – “Mad Max”

Best Makeup – “Mad Max”

Best Cinematography – “The Revenant” (Emmanuel Lubezki)

               First Cinematographer to win three consecutive Oscars

Best Film Editing – “Mad Max”

Best Sound Editing – “Mad Max”

Best Sound Mixing – “Mad Max”

Best Visual Effects – “Ex Machina”

Best Animated Short Film – “Bear Story”

               First Oscar awarded to Chile

Best Animated Feature Film – ‘Inside Out”

Best Supporting Actor – Mark Rylance (“Bridge of Spies”)

Best Documentary Short Film – “A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness”

Best Documentary Feature -“Amy”

Live Action Short Film – “Stutterer”

Best Foreign Language Film – “Son of Saul”

               Second Oscar awarded to Hungary

Best Original Score – “The Hateful Eight”

Best Original Song – “Writings on the Wall” (“Spectre”) featuring Sam Smith

Best Director – Alejandro G. Iñárritu (“The Revenant”)

Best Actress – Brie Larson (“The Room”)

Best Actor – Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Revenant”)

Best Picture – “Spotlight”