Hollywood’s biggest night doesn’t have the best track record for being inclusive, though last night’s 93rd Academy Awards was at least a step in the right direction.
The Oscar’s has a history of celebrating film and the best artists working in the industry – and this year it made big strides towards that statement really being true, with the most diverse list of nominees and winners than ever this year.
Chloe Zhao became the first woman of colour to win in the Best Actor category for Nomadland. Daniel Kaluuya took home the award Best Supporting Actor for his role in Judas and the Black Messiah while Youn Yuh-jung won for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Minari, and Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson became the first black women to win Best Makeup and Hairstyling for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
Seeing each of these artists receive the proper recognition for their work was a welcomed sight all around, though they each made note that there’s far more work to be done. In her acceptance speech, Mia Neal said “I can picture Black trans women standing up here, and our Asian sisters and Latina sisters, and Indigenous women, and I know that one day it won’t be unusual or groundbreaking, it will just be normal.”
Mia Neal also thanked those that came before her, after telling a story of how her father, despite his incredible accomplishments in life would not be hired as a school teacher in his hometown because he was black. Daniel Kaluuya’s speech was in a similar vein of thanking those who came before, as he paid tribute to Fred Hampton, who he portrayed in Judas and the Black Messiah and the Black Panther Party. “They showed me how to love myself” Kaluuya said, “and that love overflowed into the Black community and into other communities, and they showed us the power of union, the power of unity. That when they say divide and conquer, we say unite and ascend”
Though most of the night did celebrate diversity, two of the top awards both did not go to the favourites for their categories, with Best Actor being given to Anthony Hopkins for his role in The Father and Frances McDormand winning Best Actress for her role in Nomadland. Late Chadwick Boseman was the favourite going into the awards for Best Actor, while many pointed to Viola Davis or Andra Day for Best Actress for their roles in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and The United States versus Billi Holiday, respectively. Many fans were shocked to see Hopkins and McDormand walk away with wins as it put a poor finale on a night that was otherwise filled with important milestones.