Oscars: Chris Rock Owns Diversity Issue and Leo Finally Wins

The 88th Annual Academy Awards, or the Oscars, that aired on Sunday, Feb. 28, were a night filled with excitement, disappointment, and passionate causes. In the months before the Oscars aired, the hashtag, #OscarsSoWhite, became a popular topic for a number of celebrities and just the world in general, but another topic that came up several times was climate change, which was mentioned in several acceptance speeches.

This year’s host was Chris Rock, who jumped right into the controversial issues in his opening speech, making jokes like, “I’m here at the Academy Awards, otherwise known as the ‘white people’s choice awards’” and “This year, the ‘In Memorandum’ portion is just going to be black kids who were shot on their way to the movies”.

Rock’s entire opening speech focused on diversity in Hollywood and the lack of black actors and actresses getting parts. His discussion of the racism in Hollywood, and in the country as a whole, added to a conversation that has been going on for a while. Prior to the Oscars, several prominent figures, such as Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith spoke out against this issue of diversity in Hollywood and even went so far as to boycott the Oscars this year, as a statement.

Later in the evening, Chris Rock brought up his daughters, who he has been missing while working in L.A., and discussed that he was also missing the most important time of the year with his girls, Girl Scout Cookie season. With that, his daughters and several other girls from their Girl Scout Troop came out and began selling cookies to the members of the audience. During the awards show, it was announced that the girls raised $65,243.

This number caused some controversy after the show from people claiming that the girls only raised $2,500 selling the cookies, a much smaller number. In fact, both numbers are accurate. The girls only raised $2,500 from selling actual cookies but they raised the other $62,743 from additional independent donations from various celebrities.

The rest of the awards show featured the presentation of various awards while the audience happily munched away on their Girl Scout cookies, some audience members seemingly more interested in their cookies than the Oscars being presented.

One of the biggest winners of the evening was Mad Max: Fury Road that took home 6 Oscars for various categories, including Costume Design, Film Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and a few others. It was during the acceptance speech for Best Costume Design, that the second big topic came up, climate change.

Jenny Beavan, who won the award, stated,  “I just want to say one quite serious thing. I’ve been thinking about this a lot, but actually it could be horribly prophetic, Mad Max, if we’re not kinder to each other, and if we don’t stop polluting our atmosphere, so you know, it could happen,” attempting to convey the seriousness of climate change and its potential effect on our world.

Later in the evening, climate change was brought up again in Leonardo DiCaprio’s speech after winning the Oscar for Best Leading Actor for his role in The Revenant. He argued passionately that, “Making The Revenant was about man’s relationship to the natural world. A world that we collectively felt in 2015 as the hottest year in recorded history. Our production needed to move to the southern tip of this planet just to be able to find snow. Climate change is real, it is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating.”

DiCaprio’s conviction about renewable energy and climate change has been a big project for him in the last few years. He set up the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, an environmental foundation focused on reducing energy use and making people more aware of the issues facing our world. Also, in January, he attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to  attack the “greed” of the energy industry.

Unfortunately, the powerful words of DiCaprio’s speech have been overpowered by the world’s, specifically the Internet’s, excitement over him winning an Oscar. Ever since being nominated for an Oscar for Titanic and then five other nominations, there have been countless memes and jokes about his lack of an Oscar. One example of this is people claiming, “I have won as many Oscars as Leonardo Dicaprio!” The excitement of DiCaprio’s win has everyone talking, even if people can no longer claim they are on the same level as him.

Other big winners of the night were Inside Out for Best Animated Feature Film, Spotlight for Best Picture, Brie Larson for Best Leading Actress for her part in The Room, Alicia Vikander for Best Supporting Actress in The Danish Girl and Mark Rylance for Best Supporting Actor in Bridge of Spies.

This collection of wins meant that all of the recipients of Best Lead or Best Supporting were actors or actresses who had never before won an Oscar. With this year of firsts, hopefully we see a continued trend of people who are new to the business receiving awards and people who have been around for years, finally receiving the recognition that they deserve.

While there were many other awards presented, with several films winning multiple awards, these were a few of the biggest wins and most exciting acceptances. Overall, it was an event that brought joy and disappointment to all of those nominated and provided an excellent show for all viewers.

This year’s winners make an excellent list of films to go see, if you have not yet seen them. Hopefully, in addition to revealing which films are the “best” this year’s Oscars also made people more aware of the issues our world is facing, such as lack of diversity in Hollywood and many other fields, as well as climate change and its potentially catastrophic effects on our world.

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