Last night’s Oscars were a refreshing, positive rebirth for the famous award show. With many more nominations for diverse artists and women, the Oscars (which in past years had lacked varying viewpoints among nominees and winners), showed promise that ultimately lived up to the anticipation.
The night’s major themes included the climb toward social good, fighting against adversity, inclusion of women and people of color, and a look toward positive change in the world of art. Here are top social good moments of the night.
1. Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin Win for Best Documentary Feature
After a kick-off with Regina King’s win for Best Supporting Actress, the only woman of color nominated in her category, Asian-American documentary creators Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin won for their work with ‘Free Solo”. Vasarhelyi thanked National Geographic for hiring “women and people of color — they only help make the films better.”
2. Ruth E.Carter Wins for Best Costume Design
In a night of many “firsts,” Black Panther’s Ruth E. Carter became the first African- American woman to win Best Costume Design. She spoke of her achievement and what it meant for women and people color: “It’s been my life’s honor to create costumes. Thank you to the Academy, and thank you for honoring African royalty and the empowered way women can look and lead on screen.”
3. Hannah Bleacher Wins for Best Production Design
Another first for an African-American woman, Black Panther’s win for Best Production Design went to Hannah Beachler and Jay Hart. Hannah Beachler spoke of her journey to finding “agency and self-worth” and honored the journey to the win through sound advice she once received, “I did my best and my best is good enough”.
4. Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse Wins for Best Animated Feature
Representation in film was rewarded with Spiderman:Into the Spider Verse winning for Best Animated Feature. Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller spoke of the message behind the movie. Phil Lord stated “When we hear that somebody’s kid was watching the movie and turned to them and said, ‘He looks like me,’ or ‘They speak Spanish like us,’ we feel like we already won.” Peter Ramsey of this team is also the first African-American to win for Best Animated Feature.
5. Rayka Zehtabchi and Melissa Berton Win for Best Documentary Short
In terms of subject matter, the first film about menstruation to ever win an Oscar was awarded with Best Documentary Short to Rayka Zehtabchi and Melissa Berton for Period.End of Sentence. Berton joked in her speech “I’m not crying because I’m on my period or anything. I can’t believe a film about menstruation won an Oscar!” This taboo subject in many countries was put front and center, Rayka notably stating:“ A period should end a sentence, not a girl’s education”.
6. Alfonso Cuarón & Roma Score Big Wins
The night continued with firsts and themes of inclusion as the first foreign language film set in Mexico to ever win in it’s category also swept in Cinematography and the coveted Best Director award. Alfonso Cuarón spoke of the films ability to celebrate different cultures and backgrounds, reminding the audience that “we are a part of the same ocean”.
7. Rami Malek takes home Best Actor
Rami Malek took home the first Best Actor award for someone of Arab descent for his role as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. In his speech he said, “We made a film about a gay man, an immigrant, who lived his life just unapologetically himself, and the fact that I’m celebrating him and this story with you tonight is proof that we’re longing for stories like this.”
8. Nike’s “Dream Crazier”
Even between the encouraging speeches, the commercials notably informed the night’s message of inclusion. Nike continued to use it’s platform to bring about social change. They tackled the societal standard in sports that emotional women are “crazy” and twists the perspective into how it takes extreme lengths to make a difference and to reach equality. Serena Williams final words ring out, “Let’s show them what crazy can do”.
With performances that more than sufficed without a host to lead the evening, outfit choices that defied gender boundaries, speeches that incited action and motivation to keep going despite adversity, and wins that broke records for women and people of color – this year’s award show, while not perfect, is a notable improvement in the artistic community’s’ mission to be open to all perspectives and to encourage the voices of the often silenced.