After a whirlwind year of expectations unmet and bad press for institutions that have historically excluded Black people, the 93rd Oscar Awards proved to break the cycle. High pressure from the general public and new internal inclusivity and diversity standards are gradually making waves and introducing change to the filmmaking industry. Here’s a roundup of some of the wins from the Academy last night!
One of the biggest wins of the night went to Daniel Kaluuya for Best Supporting Actor for Judas and the Black Messiah. This category raised some eyebrows, seeing as he and co-star Lakeith Stanfield were both up for the same award for the same film. This led to controversial conversations over whether the Academy was trying to boost diversity points by nominating both the perceived lead and supporting actor in one category, or if the film was just loosely structured enough to lead to confusion on who the actual lead was. Either way, both gave stellar performances and congratulations are in order!
Another exciting win went to H.E.R. for Best Original Song for her work on “Fight For You” featured in Judas and the Black Messiah. Dernst Emile II and Tiara Thomas also collaborated on the song earning their own statues. Clearly this film was a hit, and H.E.R. is having a fantastic year, after winning Song of the Year at the Grammys. We’ll be keeping our eyes out for a possible EGOT in the future!
Soul, the Disney family film that swept the holiday season, was awarded Best Animated Feature. The movie was praised for its soulful (no pun intended) depiction of Blackness, family, music and existentialism. Fun fact: This is the first time a full length Pixar picture was released straight to streaming with no theater appearances and the first time a Black actor, Jamie Foxx, carried the lead role.
The Netflix short Two Distant Strangers, created by Trevon Free, won Best Live Action Short Film! This was an extremely controversial piece of media in weeks leading up to the ceremony, particularly for its depiction of police brutality through a Groundhog Day-style framing. Many Black audiences had complaints about this portrayal as “trauma porn,” but Free defended this decision as a depiction of the cyclical violence and trauma Black men endure in this country.
Mia Neal and Jamika WIlson became the first ever Black individuals to win for Best Hair & Makeup for the Netflix movie Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom! This is a victory for Black women everywhere, especially in the filmmaking industry. Of course, historical “firsts” should not even be occurring at this point in time, but such is the way of the Oscars. Here’s to hoping Neal and Wilson are paving the way for others in the future.
Soul won big twice, with Jon Batiste becoming the second Black man ever to win Best Score in 86 years of the category. Again, these firsts are slightly disappointing, but acknowledging the hard work of Black winners is always in order.
Last but never least, Tyler Perry was honored with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. His acceptance speech encouraged audiences to reject hate and live authentically. Wise words to live by! Congratulations to all the winners.
By Leah Ollie, Senior, Whitney Young Magnet High School
Instagram: @leahgraceollie on Instagram