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Important Feminist Lessons From The Oscars 2020

JANELLE MONAE, oscars 2020

Janelle Monae used her opening show at the Oscars to make some powerful statements. Photo: Getty

From the offset, the 92nd Academy Awards proved to be one of the sexist yet. Despite the plethora of great female talent behind the cameras not one received a nomination for Best Director. Greta Gerwig’s Little Women, Lulu Wang’s The Farewell and Lorene Scafaria’s Hustlers, all got overlooked in spite of receiving epic reviews, and awards else where. In fact, throughout the history of the Oscars only five women have ever been nominated in this category – Kathryn Bigelow was the only one to have won (The Hurt Locker, 2010).  It begs the question, if it were not for the Best Actress and Supporting Actress roles, would women ever get a chance to win big?

A 2020 study from the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative found that 10.6% of the directors of 2019’s top movies were women, yet the Oscars still doesn’t give them the attention they deserve. At the Independent Spirit Awards, the day before the Oscars, Wang’s The Farewell won two awards, including Best Film. During her acceptance speech Wang gave out some much needed home truths. “There’s been a lot of conversation this year about how to encourage more women to be in film, or get more women into the conversation,” she said. “You don’t have to encourage women – there are lots of women making films and in film school. Shadow programs are great but really what women need is just the the job – just give them the frickin’ job.”

Thankfully, much like Wang, the leading ladies of Hollywood were also not willing to stand by quietly at the Oscars and let the prejudice go unnoticed. Here are some of the finest moments from the awards ceremony: 

Janelle Monáe’s Storytelling

The singer-song writer opened the ceremony with a reworking of her song Come Alive, using the opportunity to highlight the lack of diversity in the film industry. She sang, “Tonight, we celebrate the art of the storytelling. The misfits, the outcasts, the misunderstood, those voices long deprived. Be loud, be seen be heard, because tonight we come alive.” It wasn’t just her lyrics making a point, many of her backing dancers were dressed as characters from notable 2019 films which were overlooked at the ceremony – dancers wearing red jumpsuits represented Us, and slick suits were reminiscent of Eddie Murphy’s Dolemite Is My Name.

Natalie Portman’s Cape

natalie portman, oscars, academy awards

Sometimes it’s the subtle moves that make the largest waves. Natalie Portman cleverly, and elegantly, used her outfit to make a very powerful statement. The actor wore a Dior cape embroidered with the names of the female directors who were snubbed at this year’s award ceremony. She said, “I wanted to recognize the women who were not recognized for their incredible work this year in my subtle way.” Message received loud and clear!

The Power of Three

Brie Larson, Gal Gadot and Sigourney Weaver, who have all headlined their own action franchise, took their moment on stage to offer support to all women. Weaver said, “We just want to stand here together and say all women are superheroes.” The trio’s words were made all the more powerful when they presented the award for Best Original Score to composer Hildur Guðnadóttir for Joker. Guðnadóttir’s win made her the first ever woman from Iceland to claim an Academy Award. On accepting her award she said, “To the girls, to the women, to the mothers, to the daughters who hear the music bubbling within: Please speak up – we need to hear your voices.”

Take note Hollywood, enough is enough. It’s time to give women the same opportunities to shine… and reign supreme. 

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