Right from the red carpet, the 91st Academy Awards were a celebration of inclusivity. Coming as it does mere years after the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, this is a huge step and shows just how powerful protests can be. And how necessary they are. The Trump presidency has also highlighted just how fragile human rights can be and hence, their need to be cheered and protected. The internet fell absolutely in love with the ‘tuxedo gown’ that Billy Porter is wearing to the Academy Awards. This custom couture masterpiece was designed by Christian Siriano. The outfit received unprecedented praise on social media with many complimenting the gender bender that it was.
Joining such luminaries like Halle Berry and Viola Davis, Regina King became the third black actress to win both an Oscar (for best supporting actress for If Beale Street Could Talk) and a Primetime Emmy.
“James Baldwin birthed this baby. And Barry, you nurtured her, surrounded her with so much love and support. So, it’s appropriate for me to be standing here because I’m an example of what it looks like when support and love is poured into someone. Mom, I love you so much. Thank you for teaching me that God is always leaning, always has been leaning in my direction,” King said in her acceptance speech.
Mahershala Ali took home the Oscar for best supporting actor for his role in Green Book. He became the first African-American to win the best supporting actor award twice. The film, revolves around the on-road journey of pianist Dr Don Shirley and his driver/bodyguard/friend Tony Vallelonga, played by Viggo Mortensen, through the southern states of America. A journey plagued by subtle racism and one that sparks a rather unconventional friendship.
Ruth Carter went on to become the first African American woman to win the award for costume design for Black Panther. “Marvel may have created the first black superhero, but through costume design, we turned him into an African king,” Carter said in her acceptance speech. “This is for my 97-year-old mother watching in Massachusetts,” Carter added. “Mom, thank you for teaching me about people and telling their stories. You are the original superhero.”
Period. End of Sentence won the Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject. The documentary is produced by Guneet Monga, who has also produced films like Masaan and The Lunchbox. The documentary was set in Uttar Pradesh’s Hapur District and was produced by Indian producer Guneet Monga’s Sikhya Entertainment and crowdfunded by students from Los Angeles along with their teacher Melissa Berton, reports Indian Express.
“Oh, my God. I’m not crying because I’m on my period or anything. I can’t believe a film about menstruation just won an Oscar,” said Director Rayka Zehtabchi in her acceptance speech.
“To the women, know that you are empowering women all over the world to fight for menstrual equality,” she added.
For best-adapted screenplay for BlacKkKlansman, director Spike Lee won his first Oscar. The director has been nominated five times and dedicated his acceptance speech to honour Black History Month. In an emotional moment, he also remembered his grandmother, saying that she saved up 50 years of Social Security checks in order to put him through school.
Rami Malek won the Best Actor trophy for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. Malek is the first actor of Arab descent to win an Oscar – he is the second actor of Arab descent to be nominated for one, the first being Omar Sharif, the star of Lawrence of Arabia.
“To anyone trying to discover their voice, listen – we made a film about a gay man and immigrant who lived his life unapologetically himself,” he said, in his acceptance speech, adding: “The fact that I’m celebrating him and this story with you tonight is proof that we’re longing for stories like this.”
The Best Foreign Language Film was won by Roma, a 2019 favourite. It stars Yalitza Aparicio who is the first indigenous woman to be nominated for best actress.
Alfonso Cuaron also won the Oscar for Best Director for his film, Roma. “I want to thank the Academy for recognising a film centred around an indigenous woman,” said Cuarón. “A character that historically has been relegated in the background. In cinema as artists it is our job to look where others don’t, and this is important especially in times when we are being encouraged to look away,” he added.