Fri | Dec 14, 2018

Call for darker Oscars days

Published:Tuesday | March 1, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Sylvester Stallone (left) and Jennifer Flavin arrive at the Oscars.
President of Academy of the Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Cheryl Boone Isaacs.
Leonardo DiCaprio, winner of the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for The Revenant, attends the Governors Ball after the Oscars.
Jenny Beavan accepts the award for Best Costume Design for Mad Max: Fury Road at the Dolby Theatre, Los Angeles, California, on Sunday.
An unidentified woman shouts as demonstrators, including Rev. Al Sharpton (second right), protest during a rally prior to the Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles in support of the nationwide TV tune-out protesting the lack of diversity in Hollywood.
Charlize Theron (left) and Lady Gaga arrive at the Oscars on Sunday at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California.
Heidi Klum arrives at the 2016 Elton John AIDS Foundation Oscar Viewing Party at West Hollywood Park on Sunday in California.


Hollywood's diversity crisis has loomed large over awards season, and the big question going into the 88th annual Academy Awards was whether it would dominate the ceremony, too. It did, of course, but it wasn't alone. The evening turned out to be a platform not just for racial representation in the movies, led by host Chris Rock's incisive insight and parody, but a wide array of causes, from global warming and bank reform to sexual abuse in church and on campus. It was a subtle plea from the film community that the movies and actors honoured at Sunday night's ceremony did have purpose and meaning even in this second year of #OscarsSoWhite.

The Spotlight team, which won the first and last prizes of the night Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture and nothing else, celebrated the Pulitzer Prize-winning work of The Boston Globe journalists who exposed sex abuses in the Roman Catholic Church and the conversation the film has renewed around the world.

Leonardo DiCaprio, the shoo-in Best Actor winner for The Revenant, used the platform to talk about his life's passion outside of acting climate changewhich got a "thank you" from the official White House Instagram account.

Adam McKay and Charles Randolph, who won for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Big Short, spoke about the need for finance reform.

And Pakistani director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, who won for Documentary, Short, spoke to the impact of her film. "This week, the Pakistani prime minister said he would change the law on "honour killing of women," said Obaid-Chinoy, who was also the only female director to win an award at Sunday's ceremony. "That is the power of film."

In some ways, the Oscars have always been a place where winners use the podium and their 45 seconds to opine on causes directly or indirectly related to the movies, from Sacheen Littlefeather's speech about Native American rights 43 years ago to Patricia Arquette's call last year for pay equality for women.

But perhaps no ceremony has had such a pointed target and nothing this year could eclipse #OscarsSoWhite, which was woven into the fabric of the show, thanks to Rock. He launched immediately into the uproar over the lack of diversity in this year's nominees, and didn't let up, dubbing the show The White People's Choice Awards at the start.

Rock ensured that the topic remained at the forefront throughout the proceedings, usually finding hearty laughs in the process.

In an award show traditionally known for song-and-dance routines and high doses of glamour, Rock gave the 88th Academy Awards a charged atmosphere, keeping with the outcry that followed a second straight year of all-white acting nominees.

Alejando Inarritu, whose win for The Revenant meant three straight years of Mexican filmmakers winning best director and his second consecutive win, was one of the few recipients to remark passionately on diversity in his acceptance speech.