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The Oscars Try To Lead By Example On Diversity, Inclusion And Equality

March 5, 2018

Transgender actress Daniela Vega, star of A Fantastic Woman, presented at the 90th Annual Academy Awards. Photo Credit: Screenshot by Alex Conte

Unlike other awards nights this season, there was no black dress code on the red carpet at the 90th Annual Academy Awards, although women's rights movements #MeToo and #TimesUp were prominent throughout the ceremony.

 

“It’s still a joyous occasion and we’re here to celebrate and it’s something to celebrate how much this movement has grown in less than six months,”  #MeToo founder Tarana Burke said on the red carpet. “There’s no need for a dress code. We did the dress code thing and now we’re doing the work.”


Host Jimmy Kimmel opened the show with a monologue supporting the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements, calling for equal pay and an end to sexual harassment in the industry. He also pointed out that disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein has been expelled from the academy.


“The world is watching us. We need to set an example," Kimmel said. "And the truth is, if we are successful here, if we can work together to stop sexual harassment in the workplace, if we can do that, women will only have to deal with harassment all the time in every other place they go."


"Only 11% of movies are directed by women. And that is nuts. We still have a very long way to go in that department, and a very long way to go when it comes to equal pay."


Kimmel acknowledged that “Ceilings have been shattered” with this year's inclusive nominations. Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird) is only the fifth woman ever nominated for best director, and Jordan Peele is the first black person to receive a nomination for Best Director, Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay for the same movie (Get Out). Out cinematographer Rachel Morrison became the first woman ever nominated for Best Cinematography.


“Our plan is to shine a light on a group of outstanding and inspiring films, each and every one of which got crushed by Black Panther this weekend,” Kimmel said, reminding the audience that "We don't make films like 'Call Me By Your Name' for money. We make them to upset Mike Pence."

 

Presenters Lupita Nyong'o and Kumail Nanjiani, both immigrants, voiced their support for the Dreamers, undocumented immigrants bought to the USA as children. Salma Hayek, Ashley Judd and Annabella Sciorra, all Harvey Weinstein accusers, took to the stage to honour the #TimesUp movement. They introduced a video celebrating equality, diversity, inclusion and intersectionality, which featured black female director Ava DuVernay, best director nominee Greta Gerwig, Pakistani-American comedian, actor and writer Kumail Nunjiani, black director, writer and actor Barry Jenkins, and actresses Geena Davis and Mira Sorvino.

 

 Actresses Ashley Judd, Annabella Sciorra and Salma Hayek honoured the #TimesUp movement. Photo Credit: Screenshot by Alex Conte

Francis McDormand won best actress in a lead role for Three Billboards outside Ebbing Missouri, and asked the female nominees from all categories to stand up. It was a stark reminder of how few female nominees there were. She then appealed to producers to tell more women's stories. Gary Oldman won Best Actor In A Lead Role for The Darkest Hour and Alison Janney won Best Supporting Actress for I, Tonya.


A Fantastic Woman, the story of a transgender woman who faces discrimination and judgement when her partner dies, won Best Foreign Language Film. Writer/director Sebastián Lelio thanked transgender actress Daniela Vega for being the inspiration for the film, and Vega later presented an award on her own.

 

89 year old screenwriter James Ivory won Best Adapted Screenplay for beautiful same-sex love story, Call Me By Your Name. It was the only award won by the film.

 

Photo Credits: Screenshots by Alex Conte

Jordan Peele won Best Original Screenplay for Get Out and Guilermo Del Toro won best director for The Shape Of Water. The film beat other LGBT inclusive films Call Me By Your Name, A Fantastic Woman and Lady Bird to win Best Picture. 


Of course, being Hollywood, the whiff of hypocrisy permeated the evening. Ryan Seacrest was on the red carpet for E! News, after denying allegations by his former stylist that he sexually harassed her from 2006 to 2013. #MeToo movement founder Tarana Burke told Variety that Seacrest should have stepped aside. "They really shouldn't send him (to the Oscars)," she said. "We shouldn't have to make those choices of, 'Do we or don't we?'" Many stars chose to avoid talking to him on the red carpet.


Retired pro basketballer Kobe Bryant won the Oscar for best animated short movie, Dear Basketball. In 2003, Bryant was accused of sexually assaulting a staff member at a hotel in Colorado. The case was dropped because the woman was unwilling to testify, and in 2005 Bryant settled with her out of court. The terms of the settlement have not been disclosed.

 

But after all the talk of equality and diversity, the reality is that only six women won awards, compared to 33 male winners. That's the fewest number of female winners since 2012. 

 

 

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