With its Oscar’s extravaganza last night, the Motion Picture Academy should be lauded for a rousing pageant of diversity featuring women and people of color like Gal Gadot, Gina Rodriguez, Wes Studi, Viola Davis, Dave Chapelle, Mahershala Ali, Kumail Nanjiani, Taraji P Henderson, Mya Rudolph, Lin-Manual Miranda and Tiffany Haddish (to name but a few).
A segment featuring Nanjiani, quipping that he is from “Pakistan and Iowa: two places that nobody in Hollywood can find on a map,” was joined by Lupito Nyong’o, a young actress from Kenya, and underscored their immigrant status. They ended with a full-throated support of the Dreamers (those children affected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals dispute).
Host Jimmy Kimmel used his opening monologue to address with humor the 300-pound elephant in the room, namely the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements and the Academy’s ejection of serial awful person Harvey Weinstein from its ranks.
Three actresses who’ve accused Weinstein of sexual harassment – Annabella Sciorra, Salma Hayek and Ashley Judd -- introduced a moving montage about the importance of representation in Hollywood. In introducing the piece, Judd said “The changes we are witnessing is 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,'” she said. “And we work together to make sure the next 90 years empower these limitless possibilities of equality, diversity, inclusion, intersectionality. That's what this year has promised us.”
Nanjiani, was interviewed for the piece and said, “Some of my favorite moves are movies by straight, white dudes about straight white dudes. Now, straight white dudes can watch movies starring me and you relate to that. It’s not that hard. I’ve done it my whole life.”
Best Actress winner Frances McDormand used her acceptance speech to make a dramatic case for inclusion in the movie business, asking all female nominees in the audience stand with her, “Meryl if you do it, everybody else will,” she said. “The actors ... the filmmakers, the producers, the directors, the writers, the cinematographer, the composers, the songwriters, the designers…”
And then among the cheers for the empowering moment, McDormand said, “Look around, ladies and gentlemen, because we all have stories to tell and projects we need financed. Don’t talk to us about it at the parties tonight; invite us into your office in a couple days — or you can come to ours, whichever suits you best —and we’ll tell you all about them.” Then, she ended with the mic-drop moment of the night -- a comment aimed right at the producers who make the movies: “I have two words to leave with you tonight ... inclusion rider.”
To its credit, the Academy has tried for the last few years to expand its membership to include more women and people of color. Some of that success was reflected in this year’s nominations, including the work of a female cinematographer, “Mudbound” from Rachel Morrison, for the first time being considered for Best Cinematography. Jordan Peele, became the first African American honored with three nominations (and only the third in filmmaker in Academy history) Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Picture in a feature-film directorial debut. He became the first black screenwriter to win and Oscar for his original screenplay for “Get Out.”
Most of the other major categories however, ended up fulfilling the pre-Oscar conventional wisdom. As expected, McDormand won as noted above, Gary Oldman won Best Actor, Allison Janney, Best Supporting Actress, Sam Rockwell for Best Supporting Actor, Guillermo del Tor for Best Director and “The Shape of Water” for Best Picture. Long-time cinematographer Roger Deakins, who has been nominated 13 previous times without taking home an Oscar, was finally honored as his “Blade Runner 2049” took home the Best Cinematography award.
FairVote’s RankIt polls (using ranked choice voting) followed along with the Academy with three notable exceptions:
Daniel Kaluuya (“Get Out”) was named Best Actor, Jordan Peele was named Best Director and “Get Out” was named Best Picture. Interestingly, the Best Picture contest was the closest of all of our Oscar RankIt polls this year. It ultimately won with 52.5 percent of the vote, when matched against close competitor “Call Me By Your Name.”
In the first round, “Call Me By Your Name” seemed to have a solid lead on “Get Out,” with 215 first choices to "Get Out’s" 178. But the field started sharply divided; even in first place, “Call Me By Your Name” only captured the first choices of just under 25 percent of voters.
As lower-performing films were eliminated, “Get Out” steadily narrowed the margin. When the other top contenders were eliminated -- first “The Shape of Water” and then “Lady Bird” – “Get Out” picked up the lion’s share of back-up choices, demonstrating the breadth of support it earned from fans of diverse genres. When “Lady Bird” was eliminated, “Get Out” earned another 156 votes, while “Call Me By Your Name” received only 106.
Both films clearly did very well, but the ability of “Get Out” to combine a strong showing in first choices with great respect from fans of other films, ultimately made it the winner.
Thanks to everyone who voted and watched our results announcement on Facebook Live. Join us again next year, for what could be the most diverse Oscars yet.