Amidst a dark cloud of controversy, the 88th Annual Academy Awards managed to be a ceremony to remember with socially-charged commentary, award sweeps, surprise wins, and the bestowing of a golden statue to a long-time hopeful. Here are some of the highlights from the 2016 Oscars…
- As expected, Cate Blanchett was the Best Dressed on the red carpet in a seafoam green Armani gown blossoming with floral embellishments. Very honourable mentions include Saoirse Ronan in emerald green-sequined Calvin Klein, Brie Larson in royal blue Gucci, Alicia Vikander in a Beauty and the Beast-inspired Louis Vuitton ball gown, Charlize Theron in regal red Dior, and Mindy Kaling in a black and blue gown-with-train by new and upcoming fashion designer, Elizabeth Kennedy.
- Also to no shock, host Chris Rock did not hold back from addressing the enormous elephant in the room in the wake of #OscarsSoWhite campaign regarding the erasure of diverse racial representation from this year’s nominees. Rock made sure the issue was in the forefront of the evening’s proceedings, calling out Hollywood’s sorority-style racism through much shade throwing and truth telling, and with support from fellow actors Kevin Hart, Whoopi Goldberg, and Angela Bassett. Funny business aside, the heart of the matter is the importance of demanding an accurate reflection of our world and its people in our media, so that the ludicrousness of a ‘White People’s Choice Awards’ becomes a thing of a dated past.
- Room‘s Jacob Tremblay was a frequent show-stealer throughout the night. From his endearing reaction to seeing the galaxy’s most famous droids, BB-8, R2-D2, and C-3PO on stage (the self-professed Star Wars nerd accessorized his Armani suit with Millennium Falcon cufflinks AND Darth Vadar socks) to his sweet shoutout to Chris Rock and his role as the funny zebra in Madagascar, Tremblay won the hearts of many adoring viewers.
- The wild, fast, and furious Mad Max: Fury Road was the biggest winner of the night, snatching six awards in the artistic and technical categories of Best Costume Design, Best Production Design, Best Makeup & Hairstyling, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing, and Best Sound Mixing.
- Disney Pixar picked up yet another Best Animated Feature Film victory for the emotional and engaging Inside Out.
- The award for Best Original Song went to Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith for their co-written James Bond theme, “Writing’s On The Wall” for Spectre, as performed by Smith. Napes and Smith beat out heavy competition from The Weeknd (nominated for “Earned It” from Fifty Shades of Grey) and Lady Gaga (nominated with “‘Til It Happens To You”, written by Diane Warren for The Hunting Ground). Smith’s win came off the hot heels of Gaga’s powerful Oscars performance, which featured survivors of sexual assault bravely coming forward to unite against rape culture. Vice President Joe Biden was also present to urge Americans to take the pledge to intervene on issues of sexual abuse (itsonus.org).
- First time Academy Award nominees Alicia Vikander (Best Supporting Actress for The Danish Girl) and Brie Larson (Best Actress for Room) won in their respective categories, cementing their statuses as rising talents to watch out for.
- The most surprising win of the night was Mark Rylance for Best Supporting Actor for Bridge of Spies. Sylvester Stallone was the favourite to win for his reprisal of Rocky Balboa in Creed, but one can hardly call Rylance’s win an upset as his performance, though not as buzzworthy as Stallone’s, was highly acclaimed.
- By far the most celebrated victor of the night was Leonardo DiCaprio for Best Actor for The Revenant. (which also won Best Direction and Best Cinematography). The whole world awaited with bated breath to see if Leo would receive his first Oscar win for his sixth nomination after five previous letdowns from the Academy. In a moment well over two decades in the making, he finally took the golden trophy, along with the glory of becoming an Academy Award winning actor. With his dreams realized, Leo can now leave behind the pitiful internet memes and join the ranks of Oscar champions. Long Live the King of the World!
- And lastly, the most coveted award of the night, Best Picture, went to Spotlight, which also won for Best Original Screenplay. The film, which portrays the true story of the investigative journalists from the Boston Globe newsroom who uncover the child molestation scandal within the Catholic Church, speaks up for the importance of telling the truth to ignite change, a theme that is all too relevant for both the Academy and the greater society today.
“Make sure for once and forever that the color of our skin becomes as irrelevant as the length of our hair.” – Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Director of The Revenant