Oscars Recap: 6 Things Everyone Should Be Talking About

Last night’s Academy Awards, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, proved what every other award show continues to prove: things aren’t really that different, but some slow progress is being made. Hollywood has a long way to go before women and people of color (and people of other) are nominated for as many awards as cis white men. In order for that to happen, they need to be given the same opportunities in the first place. It seems people are finally starting to recognize that, no doubt as a result of our current political moment, which has people calling out the truth and speaking up when the world is watching.

With that in mind, here are the six best things that happened at the Oscars last night.

1. Coco Won Best Animated Film

Coco winning Best Animated Feature Film (it also won Best Song) gave way to one of the most important speeches and moments of the night. Director Lee Unkrich called it “a love letter to Mexico,” and said that after Trump was elected, he and the other creators of the film felt a sense of urgency to “get a positive message about the beauty of Mexico (and) the Mexican people.”

In Unkrich’s acceptance speech he called for inclusion. “With Coco, we tried to take a step forward toward a world where children can grow up seeing characters in movies that look and talk and live the way they do. Marginalized people deserve to feel like they belong. Representation matters.”

2. Jordan Peele Won Best Screenplay for Get Out

In Jordan Peele’s acceptance speech for Best Screenplay for his debut film Get Out, he said he stopped writing the film about 20 times because he thought it was impossible and not going to work. Well, thank you to Jordan Peele for pushing through. Not only did he create a film that uniquely explores race and trauma through the lens of horror, but he also became the first Black person to win this award (there were four previously nominated). That’s a lesson in following your gut.

He also gave a shout out to my favorite type of movie person (I am one of them): “And to everybody who went and saw this movie. Everybody who bought a ticket, who told somebody to buy a ticket, thank you. I love you for shouting out at the theater, for shouting out at the screen.”

3. Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph’s Proved They Need Their Own Show

Here’s a free idea: Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph should host every award show together. Here’s another free idea: Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph should remake Thelma and Louise. The two comedians stepped on stage with their stilettos in hand to talk about the agony of wearing heels for long periods of time (same!) and to reassure the audience not to worry because there were still tons of white people backstage (hilariously riffing on #OscarsSoWhite). There was a funny bit about not trusting white people with clipboards (same, again!) and another bit where Haddish and Rudolph each complimented their stellar roles and releasing of bodily fluids in Girls Trip and Bridesmaids, respectively.

Again, somebody get them a movie (and also a TV show?). Give them all of it.

4. Frances McDormand’s Best Actress Speech Was Surprising

Confession: there were definitely other people in this category I hoped would go home with the award, but Frances McDormand’s call-to-action speech made it all worth it. After thanking her loved ones, she asked all the other female nominees to stand (asking Meryl Streep to lead the pack, because duh). The standing wasn’t to congratulate them for being there or to tell them she’s proud of them, but to let everyone in the room know that these women probably have projects they want to put out, so put your money where your mouth is and finance them.

She left saying: “I have two words for you: inclusion rider.” An inclusion rider is a clause that actors put in their contract that guarantees there will be racial and gender inclusivity on set and behind the scenes. In a backstage interview, she said: “We should support this for a billion reasons, but if you can’t find a reason to, here’s one: It will make movies better.”

5. The Time’s Up Movement Got a Spotlight

The Time’s Up messaging wasn’t featured as heavily at the Oscars as the Globes, but there was a lengthy video segment introduced by Annabella Sciorra, Ashley Judd and Salma Hayek, who have all spoken out about Harvey Weinstein, dedicated to the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements. Though the video, which featured various actors and directors who have broken barriers in Hollywood like Barry Jenkins, Ava DuVernay and Kumail Nanjiani, was more of a call for representation than a call-out about sexual harassment and systemic misogyny in the industry. It was a digestible video for the Oscars crowd rather than a radical reckoning, but that’s not to say there weren’t some great moments.

Nanjiani had the best line: “Some of my favorite movies are movies by straight white dudes, about straight white dudes. Now straight white dudes can watch movies starring me and you relate to that. It’s not that hard. I’ve done it my whole life.”

6. Guillermo del Toro Won Best Director for Shape of Water

I do think Phantom Thread was robbed last night, but Shape of Water, which took home four awards last night including Best Director for Guillermo del Toro, was a wonderful love story too. It was a moment to celebrate friendship goals: del Toro and Mexican directors Alfonso Cuarón and Alejandro González Iñárritu are a close-knit group, often referred to as The Three Amigos, and now each of them has won Best Director — Cuarón in 2014, Iñárritu in 2015 and 2016, and del Toro last night.

But it was also an opportunity for del Toro, as an immigrant, to speak out about the importance of filmmaking as a way to bring people together and blur the lines of who belongs where: “In the last 25 years I’ve been living in a country all of our own. Part of it is here, part of it is in Europe, part of it is everywhere. Because I think that the greatest thing our art does and our industry does is to erase the lines in the sand. We should continue doing that when the world tells us to make them deeper.”

Feature photos by Matt Sayles/A.M.P.A.S and Kevin Winter via Getty Images.

Tahirah Hairston

Tahirah Hairston is a writer living in Brooklyn. Follow her on Twitter @tahairyy and Instagram @tahairy.

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