#OscarsSoWhite redeemed itself Sunday night, washing away several sins by letting host Chris Rock take on its “lack of diversity” head-on, by picking a newspaper investigation for Best Picture over space exploration, by honouring a Mexican director for the second time in a row (it happens rarely) for a slice of Native American history, and even finally giving an acting award to Leonardo DiCaprio — righting one of those wrongs that no one ever forgets.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences also silenced criticism that it ignores popular, hit films for obscure ones that “no one ever saw”. The film that had the best night at the Oscars was Mad Max: Fury Road, the unapologetic George Miller entertainer that wowed audiences and critics alike. However, the equally loved and feted The Martian was swamped in the process, with its director, Ridley Scott, snubbed again. A question of unfortunate timing, perhaps, with the pathbreaking film releasing too early in the year for the notoriously fickle Academy memory. If it’s any consolation, America’s long-lasting love affair with Star Wars didn’t help The Force Awakens either to any of its handful of technical awards.
Rock’s diversity message, driven home in a 10-minute introduction and in parodies which featured him and Whoopi Goldberg, among others, as characters in hits of the year, wasn’t the only hot-button topic that made it to the ceremony.
Vice-President Joe Biden made an appearance to talk about campus sexual violence while DiCaprio gave a rather dull and earnest speech about climate change (the only one with tears in eyes was friend Kate Winslet, and they have a Titanic together). Andy Serkis’s comparison of Donald Trump to a “planet-threatening megalomaniacal monster” went further.
At the same time, the ugly presidential election found little mention. However, The Revenant has been compared to Trump and The Spotlight to Hillary Clinton. With the honours equally divided between the two films, it serves well to remember that The Revenant belongs to “Mexican” Alejandro González Iñárritu. The Best Director winner hoped for a world where “for once and forever the colour of skin becomes as irrelevant as the length of our hair”.