Was today a gamechanger or a work in progress?
When the nominations for the 93rd Academy Awards or the 2021 Oscars were released, everyone saw that their pool of nominees diversified significantly. There was no repeat of the #OscarsSoWhite callout, one that we’ve been familiar with. You know, the era before the institution paid attention to films beyond those made by white men. Finally, we’re seeing artists of color get more credit for their equally stunning or harrowing films that leave their audiences reeling.
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Once we got word of the winners, the 2021 Oscars lived up to everyone’s expectations as more women and more people of color who are actors, filmmakers and backstage staff were given the recognition they were due.
Emerald Fennel wins an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Promising Young Woman. Meanwhile, Chloé Zhao is the first Asian woman to win Best Director for Nomadland, the film that also won Best Picture. Minari’s Youn Yuh-jung wins Best Supporting Actress, sealing her as the first Korean to win the award.
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H.E.R. also makes history by becoming both a Grammy-winning and Oscar-winning singer songwriter. Her song for Judas and The Black Messiah entitled Fight For You won an Academy Award for Best Original Song. Daniel Kaluuya wins Best Supporting Actor for his role in the same film, much to the whole world’s joy. Black excellence continued to shine through as the animated Pixar movie Soul won two Oscars: Best Animated Feature Film and Best Original Score.
But it seems that the momentum stopped once the major awards were announced.
Anthony Hopkins wins for his character in the film The Father in a shocking turn of events. The Oscars received a lot of backlash over this decision. Many believe the performance of the late Chadwick Boseman for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom warranted the Oscar, the same way Viola Davis deserved to win Best Actress for her role as Ma Rainey herself. The Oscar for Best Actress, instead, went to Nomadland’s Frances McDorman.
While the Academy took into stride the criticism they received after the #OscarSoMale and #OscarsSoWhite hashtags last year, the decisions for Best Actor and Best Actress make it seem like they still have a long way to go. It’s admirable, though, to see an institution take actual steps in leveling out the playing field for artists. Even if, you know, it should have been part of the status quo. After all, art and film should be applauded regardless of its performers’ skin color and language spoken. To quote Parasite Director Bong Joon-ho:
“Once you overcome the one-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”
Nonetheless, 2021 shows that things are looking up for women, Asian and Black filmmakers, actors and artists. Their creations are finally being seen as at par with, or maybe even a lot better than their white male counterparts.
Check out the full list of winners at the Academy Awards’ official website.
What do you think? Were these awards well deserved or did we witness more snubs as usual? Sound off in the comments below.
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver