The 2017 Academy Awards

A Win for Diversity

Meleah York, Staff Writer

The Academy Awards were made incredibly exciting with the biggest mix-up of 2017, thanks to some distracted stage directing staff and the inability of old people to know what’s going on. Yes, the Oscar for Best Picture was awarded to La La Land, a cinematically brilliant, yet whitewashed, film about cliche romance with a twist and an amazing soundtrack (that I’ve been listening to nonstop). But as it turns out, because of a backstage flub, the winner was actually Moonlight, a film about a gay black man’s life (now how ‘bout that?). Obviously this was an amazing achievement for not only the black community, but for the LGBT community as well, especially during times like these when representation is incredibly important for those who feel marginalized or are a minority. That’s why there are other important things to note about the 2017 Oscars.

Viola Davis won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for Fences and was also the first black actress to have been nominated for three categories. Besides the Oscar, she’s won a BAFTA, a Golden Globe, and a Screen Actor’s Guild Award. She’s the first black actress to have won all of these.

Mahershala Ali became the first Muslim to win an Oscar for his performance in Moonlight. Nominated for Best Supporting Actor, he was also in Hidden Figures, which was nominated for Best Picture. I’ve seen that movie several times, and his character, though a smaller role, continues to be brilliantly executed.

Emma Stone won Best Actress for La La Land, and while there is some controversy over if she deserved it or not, I think that her performance was so great in La La Land, and she gets extra points in my book for staying super humble.

Auli’i Cravalho slayed with her performance of “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana, but the Oscar for Best Original Song went to “City of Stars” from La La Land, sung by Ryan Gosling (if we’re being honest I thought that the song “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” from La La Land should have won…but “City of Stars” is really catchy).

Zootopia won for Best Animated Feature Film, which I completely agree with. I’ll always be up for Moana, but the lessons that children learn abut the inclusion and acceptance of others and their differences from Zootopia gives me hope for what our future holds as a nation.

Lastly, let’s take it back to that unfortunate mishap of the award for Best Picture. Both La La Land and Moonlight are exceptional films that both deserved high honors and the awards that they received in other categories. But to those of you bitter over the loss of La La Land, remember this. Representation is important, and whether you’re a minority or not, you need to be able to see that Moonlight was a film that we needed during this time in our nation. La La Land captured a mesmerizing essence of cinematography with a beautiful storyline, but life isn’t always about fantasies and dreams. It can’t always be the guy-meets-girl love story.

Moonlight’s victory is bringing into light the realities of our diversity and the obstacles others have to face. Not everyone is straight and white and at an advantage. To focus on those stories of tough reality and hardships, and bring to light that, yes, there are gay black men with drug-addicted mothers, or yes, there are minorities facing hate every single day, those stories portrayed in the media give us a sense of the reality of our nation. It’s not a white love story turned heartbreak. America’s going through some pretty rough stuff right now. Moonlight winning Best Picture encourages others to see what they’ve been trying to ignore about the diversity of our country.