This year, the 89th Academy Awards, have shocked film goers across the globe both for the right reasons, but also unfortunately for the wrong.
After already being nominated for an astounding 11 nominations at the BAFTA’s earlier this year, ‘La La Land’ was already in the running for numerous awards and nominations at the Oscars. Directed by the young 32-year-old Damien Chazelle, ‘La La Land’ was nominated for 6 Academy Awards, concluding the evening with a commendable 4 awards, including Best Actress: Emma Stone and Best Director (and the youngest director to win an Oscar) Damien Chazelle.
Casey Affleck took the award for Best Actor despite having faced allegations for sexual harassment in 2010 on the set of his film ‘I’m Still Here’. His acceptance speech, saw fellow nominee Denzil Washington looking particularly unsettled by the outcome, whilst Brie Larsson, having recently been part of a film that targeted the sexual abuse of women, was made to hand Affleck the award with uneasiness. Having been unaware of who she would be giving the award to, it is safe to say the organisers of the Oscar’s have a complete lack of care both for Larsson’s career and for the victims of sexual abuse. Affleck’s win, deserved or not, places him in a position of power that is certain to deter victims of sexual abuse from speaking out against harassment. His award provides Affleck with a powerful platform to demonstrate his wealth and prestige, making it particularly difficult for the women accusing him of harassment to now get the convicted outcome they may desire. It definitely does not seem like the Oscars position to highlight Casey Affleck as a paradigm for acting, when these accusations have yet to be disproved.
I turn to University of Bristol student Maya to comment on whether she believes Affleck should have won the award considering the circumstances…
Unfortunately, this was not the only insensitivity produced by the Oscar’s this year. ‘La La Land’ was said to have won the most prestigious award of the night for ‘Best Picture’ when in fact, it was actually the film ‘Moonlight’ who had won the award. It was only half way through ‘La La Land’s’ second acceptance speech, that presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway had to break the news to the cast that they had actually read out the wrong name. Beatty had been given the award card for Best Actress winner, Emma Stone for ‘La La Land’. Unsure what this meant, he had turned to Dunaway in reassurance who then announced ‘La La Land’ the winner of Best Picture.
Despite this awkward mishap, ‘Moonlight’s’ very deserving win has become one of the most diverse and positive things to have happened in Oscar history. It is the first LGBTQ film to take Best Picture and has also been the first film about black characters that has not been about racism. ‘Moonlight’ is about a young black man growing up in his neighbourhood in Miami. It’s based on the play ‘In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue’ by McCraney, and explores a young boy’s journey to manhood whilst growing up in Miami’s low income housing projects with his mother who is a drug addict. It is safe to say, ‘Moonlight’s’ win for Best Picture has been the most relevant thing to happen in Oscar’s history and this year’s diversity didn’t stop there.
Whilst 2016’s ‘#OscarsSoWhite’ campaign emphasised the lack of black actors nominated for awards for the second year in a row, 2017 is beginning to demonstrate perhaps a more promising and diverse future for Hollywood. Mahershala Ali is the first Muslim to win an Oscar, with his award for Best Supporting Actor in ‘Moonlight’, Dev Patel became the third actor of Indian descent to be recognised at the Oscars with his nomination for Best Supporting Actor in ‘Lion’ and Viola Davis also won Best Supporting Actress for her film ‘Fences’.
Of course, it still feels like the Oscars and Hollywood have a long way to come, with white actors still receiving a substantial number of awards in comparison. But ...