This year’s Oscars ceremony was undoubtedly iconic, with Will Smith managing to silence the entire room in an incident that overshadowed all other happenings of the night.
In addition to the cultural milieu that has become known as “the slap,” many awards were distributed that broke barriers for the event.
Per my last article, I correctly predicted 10 categories, with two other wins in my “up in the air” categories. Some of these were vindicated, and some of them fell short of my expectations.
Over the course of the night, several of these wins proved historic, if unpredicted.
To begin with, the first notable moment of the evening came when the amazing film, “The Long Goodbye,” won Best Live Action Short, making Riz Ahmed the first Muslim actor to win for a leading role. He is also the first actor of Asian descent to triumph in the category. These are monumental distinctions given the lack of diversity in the Academy’s history.
The only downfall: Ahmed was given the award in a room nearly devoid of people, as all of the actors were still on the red carpet before the official ceremony started. The Academy decided to present eight categories that bring in fewer viewers before the ceremony (all untelevised), and, as a result, many celebs opted to walk the carpet instead of attending the pre-show.
One of the only actors or actresses who attended the pre-show for the eight categories was Jessica Chastain, who wanted to be there to celebrate with her hair and makeup team for winning for the film “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.”
As the night continued, the award for Best Documentary Feature was presented, and due to the event preceding it (thanks, Will), the win hasn’t gotten much attention, but Questlove won for his documentary “Summer of Soul (or, When the Revolution could not be Televised)” about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival. This is a critical win for a documentary about Black music and culture to receive an Academy Award.
Continuing the recognition of Black voices in cinema, Samuel L. Jackson was awarded an honorary Oscar for his filmography over the course of his career. The award was presented by Denzel Washington and was well deserved, as Jackson has been in over 100 films and counting and has played many of his roles to perfection.
Another interesting moment of the night transpired when Jane Campion won for best director. She is only the third woman to win for this category in the Academy’s entire history. However, her win was overshadowed as footage from Campion at the Critics Choice Awards (CCA) began to circulate around social media following her win.
Campion included a shoutout to the Williams sisters in the CCA speech, at first seemingly offering them praise: “Venus and Serena, you’re such marvels.”
The remarks quickly took a turn as she followed with, “However, you don’t play against the guys like I have to.” The Williams sisters and Campion were reunited at the Oscars ceremony, and many were not quick to forget her distasteful remarks as she took the stage for her winning speech.
Despite this tension, it is no doubt a win for women at the Academy and sticks out as one of the highlights for inclusion of the night.
Another significant win came for actor Troy Kotsur, who took the stage as the first deaf person to win in the award show’s history for best supporting actor in “CODA,” a film about a deaf family living in Massachusetts. “CODA” also took home the award for Best Picture, which was a very deserved win, as it was one of the best nominees overall for several categories.
All of these wins deserve to be celebrated and recognized for the groundbreakers they are in diversity, and everyone who worked on any film or project nominated deserves to be recognized for their talent and craftsmanship.
Missed the live show? You can still stream it on Hulu.