When thinking of the Academy Awards, words like “prestige,” “honor” and “prominence” typically come to mind. Yet to people working in the industry, the Oscars are now regarded more as a political awards show, whereas Golden Globes winners are more representative of the talented performances of each given year.
And while this year’s Oscars broadcast was one of the best in recent years thanks to Jimmy Kimmel’s hosting, there were also clear indications of this political trend.
Whether or not I fully believe “Envelopegate” was a set-up is still up for debate. If I were a conspiracy theorist, this would be my justification: To what degree can something statistically be considered coincidental when there are so many factors at play?
For the most highly-anticipated category of the night to be initially awarded to the film with the most nominations only to be taken away in exchange for an LGBTQ+, racially-diverse indie film in this current political climate is beyond mere happenstance.
“La La Land” was regarded as a unanimous shoe-in for Best Picture, and while the Oscars usually include one upset, for such a mix-up to occur, is improbable at best and preposterous at worst.
This explanation is not meant to argue one film over the other or to deny that those affected by the mix-up weren’t portraying genuine reactions. But whoever selected Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway to present the award and Brian Cullinan as “envelope hander-outer” did so with a hidden agenda.
But all of that aside, “Moonlight’s” last-minute win also secured this year’s Oscars as a historical one, with the greatest number of black winners since the show in 1929. Following the #OscarsSoWhite campaigns of 2015 and 2016, records were shattered for people of color within many of the individual categories as well.
By having “Moonlight” snag that last-minute win, it’s as if the Academy was patting themselves on the back, bringing even more widespread attention to the matter. Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs even took the time to congratulate herself during the broadcast, stating she’s proud to see the film industry “becoming more inclusive and diverse with each passing day” and “to see all the new faces among this year’s nominees.”
Even though the Academy is corrupt, and voting is influenced more by who you know and how much money you have, the changes are still inspiring – no matter how blatantly they are set up.
Next year, I hope to see even more female nominees. Cinematography remains the biggest boys’ club in Hollywood; there hasn’t been a single female being represented throughout the entire 89-year history, and there’s only been one female director winner to date.
A part of me believes these are noble aspirations, but I only want progressive action if it’s done justly. Let’s do better next year.