A night of firsts and celebration at the 90th Academy Awards

A night of firsts and celebration at the 90th Academy Awards

Written by Nadia Naeem


The 90th Academy Awards marks a historic achievement for not only the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, but also for all actors, actresses, filmmakers, and of course movie-goers everywhere.

The award winners were essentially those who were favored to win. Jordan Peele won Best Original Screenplay for “Get Out,” Allison Janney and Sam Rockwell won their first Oscars for Best Supporting Actress in “I, Tonya” and Best Supporting Actor for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” respectively, and and the historic Best Picture award went to immigrant filmmaker Guillermo del Toro for “The Shape of Water.” To make the moment even sweeter, “Bonnie and Clyde” co-stars Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway presented the award, getting redemption for their envelope mix-up last year.

The most memorable award and accompanying speech of the night, however, came from Frances McDormand, winner of Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role. McDormand, after giving her thanks, asked all women in the building who were nominated for an Academy Award to stand and be recognized. The joyous moment culminated in the final two words from McDormand, “Inclusion Rider.”

A few other awards of note went to Roger A. Deakins, who won his first Oscar for Best Cinematography for “Blade Runner: 2049” after having racked up 14 nominations on such films as “The Shawshank Redemption” and “No Country For Old Men.” Chris Overton and Rachel Shenton’s won Best Live Action Short for their film “The Silent Child,” in which Shenton gave her speech in English and in Sign Language, to honor the deaf subject of the film, and basketball star Kobe Bryant won Best Animated Short Film for “Dear, Basketball.”

The night itself was filled with emotion, reverence, and memory, gracefully addressed by host Jimmy Kimmel, back again for the second year in a row. He had a few critical issues to address as well, including the Best Picture debacle of last year and the most present issue of the night involving sexual assault and inequality in Hollywood.

“Last year, about a week before the show, the producers asked me if I wanted to do some comedy with the accountants, and I said, nah… so the accountants went ahead and did comedy on their own,” Kimmel said, poking fun at the people from PricewaterhouseCoopers, who are in charge of the envelopes for the show.

The monologue continued in a light-hearted tone as Kimmel highlighted the historic nature of the night, being the 90th annual award show. Pointing out the giant Academy Award that joined him on stage, Kimmel celebrated Oscar as being the perfect type of Hollywood man. “Just look at him, keeps his hands where you can see them, never says a rude word, and most importantly, no penis at all… he is literally a statute of limitations,” Kimmel said.

Kimmel continued with this criticism aimed at men when honoring the 13-time nominated film “The Shape of Water” saying, “We will always remember this year as the year men screwed up so badly, women started dating fish.”

These joking statements were only a taste of what the men of Hollywood, and frankly the men of the world, faced during the ceremony. It was clear that the issue of sexual harassment is something that will remain on the forefront of media for time to come.

Several presenters and attendees supported the movements that are helping to end sexual assault and harassment in America by wearing “Time’s Up” pins. Salma Hayek, Annabella Sciorra, and Ashley Judd, all of whom have accused Harvey Weinstein of harassment or assault, gave a tribute to inclusion and equality during the show. Artists Common and Andra Day included several activists on stage, including the founder of the #MeToo movement, Tarana Burke, during the performance of their original song, “Mighty River,” from “Mudbound.” Even Jimmy Kimmel directly encouraged people to join the students at Parkland at their protest on March 24 against gun violence, among other prevalent topics.

In contrast to the dialogue concerning sexual harassment, Kimmel also focused on the wealth of entertainers who made history that night. Greta Gerwig, was the first woman to be nominated for Achievement in Directing in eight years for “Lady Bird,” Jordan Peele was named the third person in 90 years to be nominated for directing, writing, and producing in the same year for a debut film and first black filmmaker to be nominated for ‘The Big Three’ in the same year for “Get Out,” and Rachel Morrison became the first woman to ever receive a nomination for Achievement in Cinematography for “Mudbound.” Other notable nominations included Mary J. Blige, as the first person ever to be nominated for both Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role and Best Original Song for “Mudbound,” and Timothée Chalamet as the youngest nominee for Best Actor in almost 80 years for “Call Me By Your Name.”

As with any Oscars night, the awards show was filled with comedy and hijinks. A few strange moments and mishaps happened throughout the night, including many winners having to place their awards on the floor due to lack of a podium and the announcer mispronouncing “Oscar” while Frances McDormand walked to the stage to accept her award.

Comedians Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph proved to be two of the best presenters the Oscars have seen. As they complained about their hurting feet and bathroom-centric roles,the two leading ladies riffed off one another.

“Girl, my pinky toe fell off,” Rudolph said, as she held up a fake pinky toe, prompting a large laugh.

To incentivize shorter acceptance speeches, Kimmel, in a “The Price is Right” fashion,  promised that the winner who gave the shortest acceptance speech would win a brand new jet ski, presented by Helen Mirren. Kimmel later sweetened the deal, adding a trip to Lake Havasu, in the end going to  Mark Bridges, winner of Best Costume Design for “Phantom Thread.”

Overall, the 2017 Academy Awards marked a monumental milestone for Hollywood and people who love it. For 90 years, the Academy has honored women and men for achievements in filmmaking and, although this year marks one of the most diverse years in the show’s history, there is still much progress to be made to make the filmmaking community equal and inclusive.

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