This past Sunday, March 4th at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles we celebrated the 90th Oscars, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel. This year’s Oscars was very special and not because it went without any interruptions like last year’s huge muddle between La La Land/ Moonlight for the winner of best picture but because this year had many firsts and calls to actions. Many people made history on this night and this year’s Oscars was an almost everybody's-a-winner night in Hollywood. In total, a dozen features took home gold on Sunday, not counting the three shorts categories. "The Shape of Water" led with four Oscars, followed by "Dunkirk" with three. Mind you, the former went into the night with 13 nominations, the latter with eight.
Not only did movies we love take home the gold, but this night held many firsts making the 90th Oscars a record breaking event. Timothee Chalamet became the youngest lead actor nominee in 78 years, while Christopher Plummer, already the oldest acting winner ever, and surpassed that with another nomination, making him the oldest acting nominee ever. Not to be outdone, French director Agnes Varda’s long-overdue first nod made the oldest nominee in history, period. Neither Plummer nor Varda won, but "Call Me by Your Name" screenwriter and Claverack resident James Ivory (eight days Varda's junior) did, taking the crown as Oscar's oldest winner on record. "A Fantastic Woman" gave Chile its only best foreign language win so far, as well as the Academy its inaugural transgender-themed film with an openly trans performer among its ranks. Rachel Morrison, cinematographer for "Mudbound," is scandalously the sole female to be up for that award since the beginning. She didn't win, but the eventual victor, Roger "Susan Lucci of film" Deakins, made it to the podium after 13 prior unsuccessful attempts. And of course, Meryl Streep added to her legacy as a record-breaker by notching her 18th loss in the acting categories. "The Shape of Water" became the second best picture winner to feature a credited female screenwriter, in this case, co-writer Vanessa Taylor, since World War II. The last one was 2003's "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.” The one win we we’re most excited for this year at the Oscars was Jordan Peele's original screenplay win for "Get Out" making him the first African-American in Oscar history to win in this category.
Along with the many first time winners in Oscar history, we had many call to actions during the 90th Oscars. Kimmel's monologue and recurring commentary paid more than lip service to gender and race inequality up and down the entertainment hierarchy. Three well-known alleged victims of Harvey Weinstein's predatory actions, Ashley Judd, Annabella Sciorra and Salma Hayek united to promote a call to action. Dreamers and immigrants were shown support. Several of the best song performances were themselves testaments to diversity and tributes to the marginalized: "This Is Me" from "The Greatest Showman" is already an anthem for the disenfranchised, and the exuberant background singers and dancers solidified it; double-nominee Mary J. Blige's take on her own "Mighty River" from "Mudbound" was backed by a multi-ethnic gospel choir; Common spat fire in an updated and political verse from "Stand Up for Something" from "Marshall," while Andra Day's singing shook the rafters and 10 activists from varied and very current causes literally had spotlights shone on them. Finally, two-time best actress winner Frances McDormand urged every 2018 female nominee to their feet, and demanded the rest of the audience recognize them, and even more, work with them and tell their stories. Then she sent millions of people to Google after her mic drop of a closer: "I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentlemen: 'inclusion rider.'" If you haven't yet hit a search engine, an inclusion rider is when an actor or actress can demand in their contracts that there will be certain level of diversity, sex, race, etc in cast and crew hiring for the project.
With so many controversies over inclusion and diversity among Oscar nominees and winners we are very pleased to see that the coordinators of the 90th Oscars took all this into account when planning the event. We are very excited to see that many actors and actresses used this platform to call upon action and change, and lastly we are very proud of the winners, and nominees, especially those who made history at the 90th Oscars.