The 2016 Academy Awards presentation aired last night, but the lack of diversity issue was the big elephant in the room. And who better to send out to the stage with an elephant gun but the one and only Chris Rock.
After a montage of this year’s films (which by my count contained almost 10 clips of actors or projects that were ignored by the nomination process -Idris Alba, Star Wars’ John Bodega, and about 5 clips from “Straight Outta Compton”), Rock came out and got right to it by welcoming everyone to the Oscars, AKA the “White People’s Choice Awards.” He talked about people trying to tell him to quit the hosting gig, but her remarked that the show would go on without him and that “he’d lost enough gigs to Kevin Hart already.”
He talked more about racism. He put the absence of black acting nominees in context by highlighting there there no black nominees 71 other years in Oscar history. Rock joked that black people in years past were too busy with other issues, such as lynching, to worry about best cinematography.
There were plenty of jokes and funny video bits. Rock explored the diversity furor by putting black actors in movies about white characters. Whoopi Goldberg popped into “Joy.” Leslie Jones took over for the bear in “The Revenant” and mauled DiCaprio. Tracy Morgan replaced Eddie Redmayne in “The Danish Girl,” and Rock assumed Matt Damon’s role in “The Martian.”
Outside of Chris Rock’s antics, for the Oscars it was business as usual.
Leonardo DiCaprio won best actor, finally, for “The Revenant,” and called for action against climate change. Brie Larson was named best actress for playing the imprisoned mother in “Room,” and Alicia Vikander was chosen top supporting actress for portraying the understanding wife in “The Danish Girl.”
In a big surprise, “Spotlight” took home the Best Picture award over “The Revenant”, and in a stunner, Mark Rylance of “Bridge of Spies” as supporting actor (over Sylvester Stallone of “Creed”)
The Best Director award went to “The Revenant”‘s Alejandro G. Inarritu, and “Mad Max: Fury Road” was the big winner with six prizes in technical categories.
Lady Gaga put on a powerful performance about sexual abuse (introduced by Vice President Joe Biden), Sam Smith dedicated his song award (for “Writing’s on the Wall” from “Spectre”) to the LGBT community, and Chris Rock brought his daughters out to sell Girl Scout cookies. (They took home $65,000).
It was a night of highs and sighs as the Academy Awards still tries to bring excitement to it’s premier event.