2017, film, la la land, oscars, moonlight, awards

An Oscars Recap: Oops.

The Oscars are objectively the biggest night in Hollywood entertainment each year. Actors from all climbs join together to celebrate the best of the films from the year previous.

Last year, the Oscars made the news for #oscarssowhite, a boycott of the awards because of the lack of people of colour (none in two years) featuring within the top four categories, as well as a series of concerns around diversity in Hollywood.

This year, however, several people of colour, and films centered around their stories, were featured in the 2017 nominations.

Hidden Figures, a true story about three black women in the 1950s/60s working as mathematicians for NASA was nominated. Moonlight, a black queer drama, was nominated for Best Picture as well.

Several black women and men were nominated in the Best Supporting Roles categories, and four out of five of those in the Best Documentary categories were made by people of colour. Although diversity in Hollywood is nowhere near solved, this change is a far sight different from last year.

(Mahershala Ali, in Moonlight)

The Best Picture winner of the year was Moonlight. There was a slight hullabaloo over this award, for announcer Warren Beatty was given the wrong card (or something, at this early juncture we genuinely do not know), and announced that La La Land won Best Picture. However, it was quickly discovered that Beatty was wrong, and Moonlight was given the award it rightfully deserved. From the #oscarssowhite protests last year, to a generational film featuring queer black men in relationships winning Best Picture, we've certainly changed in a year. (And about time too.)

I urge you to see this film. There are not many films that one could call both history-changing and life-changing, but Moonlight is one of them. A queer film has never won Best Picture at the Oscars before, and this is an incredibly important moment in our history.


La La Land, Damien Chazelle's Hollywood love story (or narcissistic trip into the industry), was nominated for the most categories in Oscars' history, fourteen, and eventually came away with six on the night. Now, admittedly, some did not believe that La La Land deserved to be nominated for so many awards (myself included), but it definitely deserved to win the award for cinematography, as the 1930s-inspired vibe definitely showed itself through in the piece.

img1 (Ryan Gosling, in La La Land)

Damien Chazelle took out Best Director for his 'boring man 'saves' jazz' film (or La La Land), making him the youngest ever director to win Best Director at the age of thirty-two years. Here's hoping he makes something that isn't quite as lifeless as La La Land in the next few years so I can actually trust him as a director. (But we'll say no more about that.)

Casey Affleck won Best Actor for Manchester by the Sea, and Emma Stone won Best Actress for La La Land. They beat out Andrew Garfield, Denzel Washington, Ruth Negga and Natalie Portman, among others.

Mahershala Ali won Best Supporting Actor for Moonlight, prompting host Jimmy Kimmel to make a joke about how Mahershala isn't a 'real name'. Gotta say, Jimmy, I thought you were slightly classier than that. Viola Davis claimed Best Supporting Actress for her work in Fences.

(Viola Davis in Fences.)

Best Original Screenplay went to Manchester by the Sea, a moving drama film set in Massachusetts. Described as one of the best drama films of 2016, this film grossed far more than expected on a fairly low budget.

Best Adapted Screenplay (where film scripts are adapted from novels, television shows or other films - and are often based off actual stories) went to Moonlight, which beat out scripts for Arrival, Hidden Figures, Fences and Lion.

(Manchester by the Sea)

Zootopia won Best Animated Film, with The Salesman taking out Best Foreign Language Film. Director of The Salesman Asghar Farhadi boycotted the ceremony to protest the Muslim Ban put in place by President Donald Trump.

Instead, the director was represented by Iranian-American engineer Anousheh Ansari, who read out a statement on his behalf. The statement was as follows: "I'm sorry I'm not with you tonight. My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those from other six nations who have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the US. Dividing the world into the US and our enemies categories creates fear - a deceitful justification for aggression and war."

In a time of such global unease, it is important that such a statement was made. Words are powerful things and can create quite an impact if utilized well.
(The Salesman/Le Client)

OJ: Made in America won Best Documentary Feature, and The White Helmets won Best Short Subject Documentary. Sing (that's not the animated film with the gorillas) achieved Best Live-Action Short Film, while Piper won Best Animated Short Film.

La La Land, of course, swept Best Original Score, Best Original Soundtrack, Best Production Design and Best Cinematography; while Arrival had the Best Sound Editing and Hacksaw Ridge had the Best Sound Mixing.

Suicide Squad, to the surprise of everyone, won Best Makeup and Hairstyling (let's put it this way, there are very few Oscars categories that Suicide Squad could achieve anything in), while Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them took our Best Costume Design. Hacksaw Ridge won Best Film Editing, and the Jungle Book took out Best Visual Effects.

(The Jungle Book)

Look, in the end, the Oscars is just another film ceremony. Maybe you agree with every single one of the films that won, but you'd definitely be in the minority.

They're just movies. Enjoy the ones you like, don't enjoy the ones you don't. Films that tend to do well at the Oscars are made in a very specific way and appeal to a very specific group of people.

Support the film industry. Watch something that you're unsure about. Expand your horizons. There's a whole bunch of films out there just ready to be explored.

Now, you know where to start.

Emma Maguire