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Oscars 2016: Five Unforgettable Moments

Jorge Sette By Jorge Sette Published on March 1, 2016

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One of the best ceremonies of the past 10 years, the 88th Academy Awards took place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Sunday Feb 28th and was hosted by black comedian Chris Rock. The show stood out not only for the higher than usual quality of the contenders in the various categories, but mainly for its tense political atmosphere, due to the controversy sparked by the non-nomination of black actors – it has been called the all-white Oscars – which allowed participants to deliver powerful speeches pro-diversity and turned the show into an important statement and, hopefully, a turning point for the future of the industry.

Here are the highlights of the evening:

1. Chris Rock’s opening speech: delivering one of the most acerbic and intelligent speeches by an Oscar host, witty Chris Rock pushed the envelope with revelatory comments and dark jokes that made the theater audience and even TV viewers flinch in their seats. Close-up shots of the reactions of the audience showed who could take the attacks more stoically, who was able to look on dispassionately and the very few who were able to relax and enjoy the humor to the fullest (mainly the black actors sitting there, such as Whoopi Goldberg and Kevin Hart). That was his job and he…well…rocked at it.

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Some of his most biting statements covered the brutal recent history of racism in the USA (“I’m sure there was no black nominees some of those years, say ’62, ’63, and black people didn’t protest. Why? Because we had real things to protest at the time…We were too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won best cinematographer! When your grandmother’s swinging from a tree, it’s really hard to care about best documentary foreign short.”); gave us original insights into both the sexism and racism of the Academy (“If you want black nominees every year, you need to have black categories. You already do it with men and women. Think about it: there’s no real reason for there to be a men and women category in acting…It’s not track and field. You don’t have to separate them. Robert De Niro’s never said, ‘I better slow this acting down so Meryl Streep can catch up!’'); and made serious and ironic accusations against the system ("Mr. President, you see all these writers, and actors, and producers? They don’t hire black people. And they’re the nicest white people on Earth. They’re liberals. Cheese!'").

2. The musical numbers were another high note in the ceremony, notably the performance of the Beatles’s song Blackbird, whose lyrics have both antiracist and mournful connotations, by former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl, during the traditional In Memoriam segment of the show; and an extraordinary rendition of the nominated song against sexual violence Til It Happens to You (from The Hunting Ground) by Lady Gaga, who brought real victims to the stage, bearing words and phrases indicative of their resilience written along their right arms. Indeed, a very emotional moment.

3. Humor. Still on the subject of race discrimination, the audience was awarded a hilarious clip showing scenes of nominated movies in which black actors played the roles actually taken by white ones: see below.


4. Good behavior. Unlike the tasteless and offensive jokes performed by both the host (Ricky Gervaise) and many presenters during the Golden Globes this year, the Oscar presenters were a lot more restrained and polite. Russel Crowe and Ryan Gosling engaged in the funniest of the presenters' performances of the evening, disputing the meaning of ADAPTED screenplay. Gosling claimed it referred to a screenplay that would have survived many interferences, obstacles and difficulties before finally adapting and becoming a movie. The interpretation was duly disputed by Crowe, causing Gosling to propose to agree to disagree, since the fight was "beneath" them, as they had two Oscars “between them”, when in fact only Russell Crowe was awarded the prize, and only once.

5. The fact that Leo DiCaprio finally won his first Oscar – for his role in The Revenant - after being nominated five times before, moved and pleased many viewers, who were fiercely rooting for him. Personally, I’m not a fan. But we all know he works hard, sounds intelligent, is mature and grounded. He does his limited best in whatever project he’s involved with. So, let’s give him the Oscar! However, it makes one wonder about the fairness of the process, as we realize that great actors of previous generations, such as Donald Sutherland, Martin Sheen, Mia Farrow and Marilyn Monroe never had their work recognized by the Academy.

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How did you like the Oscars? Is there any other moment you think I should have included here? Please use the comments’ section below and let us know.

Jorge Sette

Jorge Sette is Bookwitty's Regional Ambassador for South America. He represents the company, writing relevant content for the region, recruiting contributors, contacting partners and ... Show More

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