Host Jimmy Kimmel did not hesitate in mocking Donald Trump throughout the show, and was joined by several others who made political statements against the US president.
La La Land has conquered the Academy Awards this year, as was expected, bagging best director, best actress for Emma Stone, best score and production design. It almost won best picture too, being announced the winner in a mistake. The La La Land team was halfway through their acceptance speech, when it was announced that Moonlight had actually won. According to Los Angeles Times, the mix-up was because the wrong envelope was given to presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway.
Despite the goof up with the biggest award of the night, it was politics that took centre stage at the Oscars this year.
If last year was about the Oscars being “so white“, this year US President Donald Trump received all the limelight. First time Oscar host Jimmy Kimmel had no qualms mocking Trump, beginning by pointing out,”I want to say thank you to President Trump. Remember last year when it seemed like the Oscars were racist? That’s gone, thanks to him.”
As Kimmel set the tone, a number of winners and nominees made strong statements against the US’s present political dispensation. Presenting the Oscar for the best animated feature film, Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal took his time on stage to renounce Trump’s planned border wall. “Flesh and blood actors are migrant workers; we travel all over the world, we build families, we construct stories, we build life that cannot be divided. As a Mexican, as a Latin American, as a migrant worker, as a human being, I am against any form of wall that wants to separate us,” Bernal said.
Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, who’s film The Salesman won the best foreign language film gong, had boycotted the awards ceremony to make a political statement against Trump’s travel ban. Farhadi’s acceptance speech was read on stage Iranian-American businesswoman Anousheh Ansari, the first Iranian to go to space, with one publication saying the “most political moment of the Oscars has so far come from a winner not in the room”. Farhadi apologised for his absence by saying that it was out of respect for the people of his country and for the people of the six other Muslim countries that Trump had imposed his travel ban against.
“Dividing the world into the ‘us’ and ‘our enemies’ categories creates fears. A deceitful justification for aggression and war. These wars prevent democracy and human rights in countries which have themselves been victims of aggression. Filmmakers can turn their cameras to capture shared human qualities and break stereotypes of various nationalities and religions. They create empathy between us and others. An empathy which we need today more than ever,” Farhadi said.
On February 24, all five directors who were nominated for the best foreign language film had released a statement denouncing Trump. The statement raised concerns about the “climate of fanaticism and nationalism” in the US particularly, but also other parts of the world. The nominees said, “Human rights are not something you have to apply for. They simply exist — for everybody.”
Kimmel also mocked Trump’s attack of Meryl Streep after her speech criticising the US president at the Golden Globes. Trump had called the veteran actress “overrated” and “uninspiring”, to which Kimmel responded by calling for an “undeserving” round of applause for Streep. Kimmel said, “One actress has stood the test of time for her many uninspiring and overrated performances. [She’s] phoned it in for more than 50 films. This is Meryl’s 20th Oscar nomination … she wasn’t even in a movie this year, we just wrote her name in out of habit.”
Winner for best supporting actress Viola Davis (Fences), who also made a powerful speech, became the first black woman to win an Oscar, an Emmy and a Tony for acting. Davis said, “I became an artist and thank God I did, because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life.”
On a lighter note, Kimmel and Sunny Pawar – who starred alongside Dev Patel in Lion – also re-enacted a scene from The Lion King with Kimmel as Mufasa and Pawar as Simba. Lion got six nominations at the Oscars this year.
The 89th Academy Awards Winners
Best picture: Moonlight
Best director: Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Best actor: Casey Affleck, Manchester By the Sea
Best actress: Emma Stone, La La Land
Best supporting actress: Viola Davis, Fences
Best supporting actor: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Best animated feature: Zootopia
Best cinematography: La La Land
Best documentary feature: O.J. : Made in America
Best documentary short: The White Helmets
Best film editing: Hacksaw Ridge
Best foreign language film: The Salesman
Best original screenplay: Manchester by the Sea
Best adapted screenplay: Moonlight
Best visual effects: The Jungle Book