2018 Academy Awards highlights: a year of firsts

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2018 Academy Awards highlights: a year of firsts

Isabella Petruccione, Co-Editor in Chief

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The 2018 Oscars marked a new era for celebrating diversity in film. This 90th installation of the Academy Awards overcame many of its previous pitfalls, becoming more inclusive and representative of groups that were in former years largely ignored. Here are some highlights.

    1. Jordan Peele was the first black director to win an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for his movie Get Out. The movie, categorized as a horror flick, tackled modern American racism in a creatively humorous way. It touched on subjects such as interracial relationships, police brutality, the slave trade, implicit racism, and more. “I stopped writing this movie about 20 times because I thought it was impossible. I thought it wasn’t going to work. I thought no one would ever make this movie. But I kept coming back to it because I knew if someone let me make this movie, that people would hear it and people would see it,” Peele said while accepting the award. “I want to dedicate this to all the people who raised my voice and let me make this movie,” he continued, thanking his wife, mom, and the fans who came to see the movie and remain enthused about it to this day. Get Out was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor, which are considered to be the Academy’s most prevalent categories. Watch Jordan Peele’s Oscar acceptance speech here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVmuTIQBoio
    2. Daniela Vega became the first openly transgender women to present at the Oscars. Vega, star of A Fantastic Woman, was an Academy Awards presenter, introducing Sufjan Steven’s performance of “Mystery Of Love,” an Oscar-nominated ballad from Call Me By Your Name. “Thank you so much for this moment,” Vega said, “I want to invite you to open your hearts and your feelings to feel the reality, to feel love. Can you feel it?” Daniela Vega was the inspiration for A Fantastic Woman, which won Best Foreign Language Film while Vega herself was nominated for Best Actress. Backstage at the awards Sebastián Lelio, director of A Fantastic Woman, remarked how it was important to him to use a transgender actress in the main role of his movie. “I felt that, for me, it was [a] very instinctive and strong decision knowing that I was not going to make this film without a transgender actress in [a] main role, that was me, and that put [the] film in a different dimension because of everything that Daniela brought to the film,” Leilo said. Watch Daniela Vega’s Oscar presentation here https://twitter.com/ABC/status/970495360467574784/video/1.
    3. Frances McDormand called all of the women nominees in the audience to stand with her in solidarity. While accepting her Academy Award for Best Actress, the lead woman of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri delivered a powerful speech, centering around the ideals of feminism and diversity in film. “If I may be so honored to have all the female nominees in every category stand with me in this room tonight. The actors—Meryl, if you do it everyone else will—the filmmakers, the producers, the directors, the writers, the cinematographers, the composers, the songwriters, the designers,” McDormand said, inviting women of every category to stand with her. “Come on! Okay, look around everybody, look around, ladies and gentleman because we all have stories to tell and projects we need financed. Don’t talk to us about it at the parties tonight. Invite us into your office in a couple days or you can come to ours, whichever suits you best, and we can tell you all about them. I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentleman, inclusion rider.” Despite the power of this speech, many were left wondering what an ‘inclusion rider’ is. According to NPR, the term is a stipulation that actors and actresses can ask to have inserted into their contracts, which would require a certain amount of adversity among a film’s cast and crew. Frances McDormand had one of the most commanding acceptance speeches of the whole night, using her platform to motivate feminism and push diversity in film. Watch it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-86vgvZGMs4.
    4. Call Me By Your Name won Best Adapted Screenplay. In another win for inclusivity, Call Me By Your Name, a movie featuring a budding romance between two young men in Italy won Best Adapted Screenplay. The movie delves into topics such as exploring sexuality and learning to be comfortable in your own skin, important things for young people to see on screen and identify with as normal parts of growing older. The film also received nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor (Timothée Chalamet), and Best Original Song (“Mystery of Love” by Sufjan Stevens). This win is important because it helps widen the coverage of LGBTQ+ individuals on the big screen, a step for inclusivity that the film industry is in desperate need of.

These highlights depict a few of the most groundbreaking moments that occurred during this year’s Academy Awards. Among many achievements by extremely talented directors, actors, producers, screenwriters, etc., these are some of the most progressive and heartwarming moments of the 90th Academy Awards. Diversity is always something to be celebrated, and this year the Oscars surely took a step towards celebrating more.

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