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Opinion: Was the 2017 Academy Awards a Step Forward or Backward?

The Oscars, an award show in film unlike any other. The highest honour when it comes to film making, winning an Oscar is the dream of so many filmmakers. However the Oscars have been filled with controversy over the last two years, particularly in regard to the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. This was in reaction to how the Oscars were not nominating enough movies with people of colour in them, and when they were nominated, they often didn’t win. This changed this year, with numerous films by and based around people of colour, like Moonlight, winning many awards. The awards that did not spark controversy showed how far the Oscars have come. For example, Viola Davis, in winning Best Supporting Actress for Fences, became the first black female actress to win acting awards at the Oscars, Tonys, and Emmys.

However, with all the progress we’ve made, we also have a long way to go. For example, people like Mel Gibson and Casey Affleck were honoured despite their controversial ideologies and actions.

I’ll go through each of the awards and talk about what they mean for progress in Hollywood.

Let’s start with Best Picture. I’m sure that most of you heard what happened: there was a mix up and La La Land was called up to the stage as the winners even though Moonlight won. It is ironic that Moonlight was robbed of their official victory by a film like La La Land. The former is about minorities with an all-black cast, while the latter essentially strokes the egos of Hollywood’s history. Moonlight was not allowed to celebrate, and will now be remembered not as the film that won Best Picture, but rather as the film at the centre of the fiasco.

Next we have Best Actor, which went to Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea. His performance in this film was incredible, I will not deny that. But it begs the question whether one can separate the artist from the art. Affleck was involved in a sexual assault case during his previous documentary I’m Still Here where he was accused of sexual assault, harassment, and other things by two women on the set of the film. He has since settled the dispute out of court. Is it possible to separate the actions of the person from his art? It is a question that I do not have an answer for. This conundrum comes to the foreground in a big way when discussing Mel Gibson. He was nominated as best director for the film Hacksaw Ridge, but as also been accused of being an anti-Semite and sexual assaulter/harasser.

There was also some controversy over the winner of the winner of best makeup and hairstylingSuicide Squad won, even though the only major piece of makeup was for the character Killer Croc. On the other hand, Star Trek Beyond did extensive makeup and special effects to create the numerous amounts of aliens in the movie, arguably putting in more effort and creativity than was given to Killer Croc.

Of course, going over the Oscar controversies isn’t going to change the results. All we can do is support the films that didn’t win in hopes that they get recognition they deserve.


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These articles were only edited by me. To read articles written by me, click here.
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