If there was an Oscar for Most Improved Awards Academy, you know that Hollywood (ever prone to self-congratulation) would bestow it upon the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the slightly more woke stance the ceremony took last night. From Get Out’s Best Original Screenplay win to Lupita Nyong’o and Kumail Nanjiani’s onstage support for the DACA dreamers, the team that produces the Oscars seemed determined to finally shake off the embarrassment of previous years’ spot-on #OscarsSoWhite criticism by tying the awards ceremony to a different set of hashtags: #TimesUp and #MeToo.
It began on the red carpet where the talk show hosts managed to swallow their “Who are you wearings” and ask Mira Sorvino and Ashley Judd—each other’s dates—about #TimesUp and the work of the legal defence fund that the movement has created for women facing sexual harassment outside of Hollywood. “I want people to know that this movement isn’t stopping,” said Sorvino. “We’re going forward until we have an equitable and safe world for women.”
When the ceremony itself started, host Jimmy Kimmel wasted no time in skewering disgraced predator/producer Harvey Weinstein. Kimmel was so delightfully merciless we thought Weinstein might wind up in the In Memoriam segment. Kimmel also called out the embarrassing discrepancy between Michelle Williams and Mark Wahlberg’s All The Money In The World reshoot pay cheques: Wahlberg got a million and a half bucks for his work (which he graciously donated to #TimesUp in Williams’ name). His co-star got $80 per day. Both actors have the same agents.
#MeToo founder Tarana Burke could be spotted onstage during Andra Day and Common’s performance of Marshall’s nominated song, ‘Stand Up For Something,’ along with nine other activists: Alice Brown Otter, Bana al-Abed, Bryan Stevenson, Cecile Richards, Dolores Huerta, Janet Mock, José Andrés, Nicole Hockley, Patrisse Cullors. Dave Chappelle, who introduced the segment, called the activists “extraordinary human beings who answered the call to action.”
Ashley Judd, Salma Hayek, and Annabella Sciorra introduced a segment in which Hollywood’s most recent crop of trailblazers including Mira Sorvino, Ava DuVernay, Lee Daniels, Kumail Nanjiani, and Geena Davis spoke out about the impact that #MeToo and Times Up have had. “The changes we are witnessing are being driven by the powerful sound of new voices, of different voices, of our voices, joining together in a mighty chorus that is finally saying time’s up,” said Judd.
To cap off the night, Best Actress winner Frances McDormand (one of only six women to take home Oscars last night… hey, no Academy is perfect, right?) used her platform to talk about the power A-list actors have to promote women and other underrepresented groups in Hollywood by demanding inclusion riders in their contracts. Her speech (and the support we’re already seeing for it) might move beyond the gestures Hollywood makes at these kinds of ceremonies to have a real impact on the movie industry.
In other news, Best Actor winner Gary Oldman still sucks.