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Highlights-from-the-2019-Oscars-

Highlights from the 2019 Oscars

On Sunday February 24, everyone who is anyone in Hollywood attended the entertainment industry’s biggest and most dazzling night of the year: The Oscars.

For some, the dream of winning an iconic golden Academy Awards statuette came true. For everyone else, the 2019 Oscars would surely be remembered as a night of powerful speeches, captivating performances, overdue breakthroughs and multiple backlashes (we’re looking at you Kevin Hart).

Here are the night’s highlights.

The talk of the town

If you’re not familiar with Hollywood’s latest imaginary love triangle, it involves the undeniably compatible stars Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper.

Are the pair just friendship goals? Did Gaga leave fiancé Christian Carino because she’s secretly in love with Cooper? Why did Cooper’s girlfriend, model Irina Shayk, sit in-between the two at the awards ceremony? And, most importantly, did you see that steamy performance of Shallow?

Whatever fan-fic A Star Is Born enthusiasts are living, we’ve been team Gaga since her Just Dance days and we’re thrilled that she won Best Original Song on Sunday. 

Tweeted about by the President

 Spike Lee leapt into the arms of Samuel L Jackson as he was finally presented with his Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for BlacKkKlansman. But it wasn’t the endearing bromance or the fact that Lee’s outfit paid tribute to his friend Prince that got viewers, and the President, talking.

“Do not turn the motherfucking clock on,” Lee said about the organizer’s 90-second time limit before using his acceptance speech to talk about how it is 400 years since “our ancestors were stolen from Mother Africa and bought to Jamestown, Virginia, enslaved”.

“The 2020 presidential election is around the corner. Let’s all mobilize. Let’s all be on the right side of history. Make the moral choice between love versus hate. Let’s do the right thing! You know I had to get that in there,” he urged.

On Monday, President Trump struck back at the film director, accusing him of delivering a “racist hit” on Twitter.

“Be nice if Spike Lee could read his notes, or better yet not have to use notes at all, when doing his racist hit on your President, who has done more for African Americans (Criminal Justice Reform, Lowest Unemployment numbers in History, Tax Cuts, etc.) than almost any other Pres!” Trump wrote.

Defying fashion norms

While there were certainly some magical outfits at this year’s Oscars, none were as unapologetically magnificent as Billy Porter’s. The Pose star worked the red carpet in a custom creation by designer Christian Siriano, which included a tailored tuxedo jacket overtop a velvet gown.

“This industry masquerades itself as inclusive, but actors are afraid to play, because if they show up as something outside of the status quo, they might be received as feminine, and, as a result, they won’t get that masculine job, that superhero job,” the star told Vogue about his outfit-choice.

Captioning a snap of the ensemble for Instagram, Porter added: “When you come to the Oscars, you must dress up.”

Making history

This year’s Oscars saw African Americans who work behind the scenes picking up awards for the first time in decades.

“Wow, this has been a long time coming,” said Ruth E Carter when she became the first African American woman to win for costume design for Black Panther.

Marvel may have made the first black superhero, but through costume design we turned him into an African king.”

Her colleague, Hannah Beachler also made history as the first African American woman to win for production design.

A film about periods

Period. End of Sentence covers the deep-rooted stigma attached to menstruation in a rural village in India, and it won the award for Best Short Documentary despite an anonymous male member of the Academy recently feeling the need to share his thoughts about the film.

“[I’m not going to vote for] Period. End of Sentence—it’s well done, but it’s about women getting their period, and I don’t think any man is voting for this film because it’s just icky for men,” he wrote in his ballot outlining his selections for the year’s awards ceremony. Boy bye.

The film’s director, Rayka Zehtabchi’s summed up our feelings pretty accurately in her acceptance speech.

“I’m not crying because I’m on my period, or anything. I can’t believe a film about menstruation just won an Oscar!” She said.

Olivia Colman keeps it real

While she may not have been the favorite to take home the 2019 Best Actress award, British actress Olivia Colman reminded us all why she deserved the win with her down-to-earth acceptance speech.

“It’s genuinely quite stressful,” The Favourite star began, before adding: “This is hilarious. An Oscar. OK. I’d like to thank a lot of people, but if I forget people I’m going to find you later and give you a massive snog.”

The star told her children watching at home that “this is never going to happen again” before apologizing to fellow nominee Glenn Close.

“You’ve been my idol for so long and this is not how I wanted it to be,” she admitted.

Colman, who made her name in TV comedy prior to landing her award-winning role, had begun talking about how she had been a cleaner when she was told to wrap up her speech, leading her to promptly blow a raspberry at The Academy.

Lacking a host 

Without a single host (we’re still looking at you Kevin Hart), plenty of people who had something important to say were allotted time on stage during this year’s ceremony.

Immigration was a recurring theme, with Best Actor winner Rami Malek stating that he was a first-generation American. Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón thanked the academy for “recognizing a film centered around an indigenous woman, one of the 70 million domestic workers in the world without work rights. A character who has historically been relegated to the background in cinema.

“As artists, our job is to look where others don’t. This responsibility becomes much more important in times where we are being encouraged to look away,” he said.

There was also many a Trump reference on Sunday night, with Keegan-Michael Key descending from the ceiling with a Mary Poppins-style umbrella only to discard it in apparent mockery of the President.

Barbra Streisand praised BlacKkKlansman “because it was based on the truth, and truth is especially precious these days” and 79-year-old congressman John Lewis spoke of his experiences in the civil rights movement before introducing the nomination of Green Book for best picture.

Speaking of Streisand, we’ll just leave Richard E Grant’s precious reaction to the legend gracing the stage at the ceremony, here. The actor recently shared his “lifelong fandom” for the star, along with the sweet letter that he had penned for her at the age of 14.

Further reading: Why Beyoncé’s Shout Out to Meghan Matters

 

 

BlacKkKlansman

The Relevancy of BlacKkKlansman

The Spike Lee-directed, Jordan Peele-produced summer movie BlacKkKlansman was everything you can imagine from the title. A story based on real events has hit the movie world to surprising success. Making over $10 million dollars in sales on its opening weekend, it also received countless standing ovations at festivals, including the theater I saw the movie in. The in-depth story of the first black officer in Colorado Springs quickly transitions into a sting operation, where the same officer successfully infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan. Set in the 70s, the story is littered with racial bias and nuances of the time period. Strong racial language made the story a bit heavy at times but to see a glimpse of the neo-Nazi ideology unfold will serve as a beacon for truth for many years. Let me explain why.

BlacKkKlansman is not some righteous portrayal of a cop doing good for his people but simply an accidental operation that turned out to land on the morally right side of history. It is more of a detailed manifestation of the undertones of white nationalism and white supremacy. It is distinct and precise in its approach to gain access into the world of the “Organization” better known as the KKK.

Spike Lee showcases his directorial genius by creating a film that almost reminds you of a self-serving KKK documentary than a counter-operative mission against them. He slowly takes the audience through the underworking of hatred and how it is derived through the use of “white nationalism” and “white supremacy,” while displaying the glaring differences between “white power” and “black power”. The movie starred John David Washington as Ron Stallworth, and Adam Driver as Flip, who becomes the white version of Ron Stallworth when the KKK asks to meet him in person. The interesting dynamic is that Flip is a Jewish man who has never acknowledged his heritage. The film is a peculiar depiction of a black man, Stallworth, discovering himself alongside a Jewish man, Flip, who is discovering his own religious and political ideology as he fights through the racial discomfort in the presence of neo-Nazi’s, who believe the Holocaust was a hoax.

This film was not made for black folks to stand and clap at the end. This movie was made for white Americans who seem to align themselves with hateful rhetoric, purposely or not. This movie is more about the group of white cops who allowed this black man to infiltrate and thwart the radical ways of the KKK chapter in Colorado Springs. Spike Lee uses smart and seemingly clear-cut references that make you feel as if the story could happen at this very moment in time. This was displayed most effectively in a scene with storied activist/philanthropist Harry Belafonte sitting in the famous bamboo chair that Huey Newton of the Black Panthers sat in, telling a story to the Black Student Union. In this scene, Belafonte recounts a story about Jesse Washington, a black man who was lynched in 1916. This story sets a tone for the climax of the film and offers some insight on how black America has dealt with oppression and violence throughout the century.

Why is BlacKkKlansman so relevant?

This movie is relevant because it is eerily relatable to the political climate of today. President Donald Trump’s lack of empathy and disregard for human life has stirred racial feelings similar to the timeframe of this film. It comes on the one-year memorial of the death of Heather Heyer, who was murdered last year at the Unite the Right Neo-Nazi March in Charlottesville, Virginia, which is detailed before the closing credits. This unimaginable hatred still exists in our country and BlacKkKlansman doesn’t shy away from that point at all.

Spike Lee has publically spoken out against the president and he isn’t reluctant in dealing with that in the dialogue of the movie. He was able to drop subtle lines that make you think and at times cringe. Overall, the film is great and full of small details worth exploring on your own. The biggest take away I got from the film is that it was a black man articulating the story of the KKK. In a world full of cultural appropriation, it was a clear-cut thorn to the side of the KKK and as a black man, I appreciated every moment of it. I do want to give a legitimate shoutout to That 70s Show star, Topher Grace, who played a young David Duke, Head Master of the KKK. The cast who played the Neo-Nazi organization was phenomenal and really made the movie as real as they can make it.

What we learned

If we only learn one thing from the film, it’s is that in order to fight hatred and racism we need to work together. It can’t be the hated fighting the hateful while the undecided sit on the sidelines. Those that are not on the side of hate should put their lives and careers on the line as we do to eradicate these hateful ideologies from our American society. BlacKkKlansman will go down as one of Spike Lee’s most important films.

Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman- 4.5 out 5 stars

Further reading: Bo Burnham on Eighth Grade