Sunday's 90th Academy Awards highlighted a year of films that echoed the current social and political climate. With host Jimmy Kimmel as its anchor, the ceremony did not hesitate to make statements about sexual assault, immigration, diversity and more. Here are five takeaways from this year's Oscars:
Women owned this year's awards
This year, it seemed serendipitous that the Oscars come at the beginning of Women's History Month, especially considering the #MeToo movement's connection to Hollywood. Several women graced the stage with backstories silently adorning them, including Salma Hayek, Ashley Judd and Annabella Sciorra, three of Harvey Weinstein’s accusers whose remarks called attention to the #MeToo and the Time’s Up movement; Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph, who lightheartedly addressed the challenges of being a minority in Hollywood and everyday life; and Lupita Nyong’o, who used her Kenyan-Mexican immigrant identity to express her support for America’s so-called Dreamers.
A video tribute to diversity and inclusion in Hollywood aimed to show the importance of more stories by and for women and people of color, and Frances McDormand's Best Actress acceptance speech — in which she asked every woman nominated in every category to stand with her — reminded us that there are plenty of those stories waiting to be told.
This generation of awards shows will always be political
From Kimmel’s opening dialogue to rapper Common’s spoken word performance, many who took the stage used the moment to address the growing list of -isms and hashtags dominating today’s conversations. This year's ceremony demonstrated that award shows aren’t just about celebrating the best in entertainment — they’re also opportunities to make public service announcements. We heard statements about standing with the students at Parkland, Dreamers, the #MeToo movement, Mexico, and racial equality, among other social and political issues. And at the first Academy Awards since the barrage of sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein and other powerful men in the entertainment industry, Kimmel also pointed out that men should be like Oscar — the most respected man in Hollywood, who keeps his hands where you can see them.
Acceptance speech time is about equity, not brevity
Kimmel’s "The Price Is Right"-style jet ski prize for the awardee with the shortest acceptance speech encouraged short and sweet remarks from most of the award winners. But not everyone stuck to this. And while the warning music is a good savior for those droning on and on with thank yous for people many of us may never know of, it was pretty awkward for it to start playing as one of “Coco”’s winners was making a tribute to his deceased parent. Not all acceptance speeches are created equal, but for some awardees, we need to hear all of what they have to say.
The academy can’t live down last year’s flub
It’s hard to tell what was the bigger elephant in the room: #MeToo and Time's Up or last year’s Best Picture flub. We left the Academy Awards last year with a feeling that resembled the upside down smiley emoji when ”La La Land” — no, “Moonlight,” officially won Best Picture after an envelope mix-up. While it would have been nice to leave that in the past and move on, the pressure was on to get every award announcement 100 percent correct — a standard set from the beginning with Kimmel’s promise that the mistake wouldn’t happen again. Still, after "The Shape of Water" won Best Picture, some wondered if it was really true (and not due to an incorrect envelope).
It might be time for the academy to ask for help
There's always going to be an actor, actress or movie that people feel got snubbed, and thanks to the internet, we'll never stop hearing about it. The good thing about that is it creates influence (think going from #OscarsSoWhite in 2016 to "Moonlight" winning Best Picture in 2017). That's why it may be advantageous for the academy to start allowing moviegoers to vote for some of the top awards, including Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Picture. What complicates that is that it could easily turn into a ranking based on popularity — which may be good from an audience standpoint, but could neglect the intricacies that make a movie Oscar-worthy.