The 90th Academy Awards Ceremony was a night of dreams, messages and hopes for Hollywood to do better.
The 2018 Oscars marked the end of an awards seasons made tense by the #MeToo movement addressing sexual assault in the workplace. The Academy made its nods to the movement by ousting the infamous offender Harvey Weinstein and ensuring that most of the award presenters were women in the industry. Notably, when previous Academy Award winner and actress, Emma Stone, presented for Best Director, she said, “These four men, and Greta Gerwig, created their own masterpieces this year,” singling nominee Greta Gerwig for her achievement among the male nominees. While some applauded this shout-out, others felt that Stone’s line erased the accomplishments of the directors of color in the category, Jordan Peele and Guillermo del Toro.
In an award speech for her role in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” actress Frances McDormand praised her fellow female nominees for their achievements and urged others to enlist them in projects for new stories. She had them all stand with her and feel honored for their work.
In many ways, the 90th Academy Awards was also a course-correct for last year’s Best Picture mix-up. In 2017, the Best Picture Award was mistakenly awarded to “La La Land,” due to the negligence of a PricewaterhouseCoopers employee. The 2017 host, Jimmy Kimmel, personally felt embarrassed by the fiasco. So, this year’s Ceremony brought in the same players, excluding the employee, for a second chance to rectify their mistakes. Talk show host Jimmy Kimmel was invited to host for a second time, and even the Best Picture Award was presented again by actors Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, who correctly announced “The Shape of Water” as the winner of the event’s grand award.
There were many references to last year’s faux-pas in the ceremony. Notably, “Star Wars” actor Mark Hamill made light of it by saying “Don’t say La La Land. Don’t Say La La Land,” before announcing the winner for best short animated film.
The Best Picture winner itself aligned well with the theme of inclusion with its focus on the love between two outsiders, a mute female janitor and an aquatic river god. The Oscars ceremony played a video of actors discussing the importance of diversity in various Hollywood projects. People of color and women were praised for their contributions to the industry throughout the evening. Kimmel also praised the recently released movie “Black Panther” for its record-breaking box office success, giving the message that representation is a fruitful way for the industry to thrive. Many people say that the Oscars talk more about change than actually enacting it, but only time will tell what or who will be lauded next year in Hollywood.