The Academy Of Motion Arts and Sciences has just celebrated its 90th year of its award show - a celebration of the film industry and awarding the best individuals within it. However, it wouldn’t be Hollywood without drama, and there is an industry-sized elephant in the room which the Oscars ceremony had to confront: diversity.
Firstly, there’s the massive issue of limited representation, which is pervasive anyway, but especially within the academy itself. Only two years ago we had the controversy of #Oscarssowhite, which drew attention the fact that an overwhelming majority of award nominees were white. And in the last year we’ve had the #MeToo movement, highlighting the injustices of sexual assault and harassment in the film industry and wider society, sparked by the Harvey Weinstein allegations.
Hopefully what we saw at this year’s Oscars constitutes a new normal for Hollywood and the world-wide film industry. Hosts, presenters and winners not afraid to bring up the serious issues in humorous and serious ways, and not shying away from politics, but confronting it in the way that Lupita Nyong'o did in her presenting, in which she drew attention to the 'Dreamers' scheme, which offers protection status to child immigrants arriving in the US.
As well as more diverse nominations, there were also ground-breaking awards at this year's Oscars, such as the first black screenwriter to win original screenplay (Jordan Peele), and the awards scooped up by the Mexican film The Shape of Water. One of the highlights of the night was Frances McDormand's win as Best Actress, and her victory speech, in which she spoke about inclusion riders - a part of an actor's contract that makes sure the production they work on has a diverse cast and crew. This will definitely gain traction and hopefully inclusion riders will be used in every contract.
But the Oscars still has a long way to go. The collection of winners is still incredibly small in its diversity. There is yet to be a black Best Director. But this year's Academy Awards ceremony is a good starting point. Film is universal: it can be created by any camera and be understood by any person. It is time for the Academy Awards to truly celebrate diversity in the film industry.