The 92nd Academy Awards

Who won, who lost, and who is still in shock

By Olivia Montes

Elm Staff Writer

Flashing bulbs. Glitter-studded gowns. Rows of gold-plated statuettes. For the past two months, row after row of award shows shuffled through the same glitz and glamour routine — and yet, while audiences have grown tired of the same people dominating the same categories, they still cannot get enough of them, filling their spirits with high hopes that different actors, different directors, different films will make long-overdue history.

The same can be said for this year’s 92nd Academy Awards ceremony.  The show this past Sunday was no exception to the formula, where, feeling the pressure from the awareness brought about from audiences and previous award shows alike, they attempted to create a show worthy enough of being remembered in the coming weeks.

“For years, shows like the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards have stolen a little of the Oscars’ ratings thunder by offering a preview of what’s to come,” David Sims of The Atlantic said on Feb. 4.

“This year, those shows have taken the surprise out of everything, and unless something radical happen[ed], Hollywood’s biggest night of the year will end with a whimper,” he said.

But at least one radical event did happen — though the World War I action-filled epic “1917” was slated to win the coveted prize, director Bong Joon Ho’s critically-acclaimed South Korean psychological thriller “Parasite” ultimately won Best Picture, shattering a new record within the Academy Awards’s 92-year broadcast history.

“The film’s seismic win came in wake of the #OscarsSoWhite protests in 2015 and 2016, [which] forced Hollywood to examine its systemic sidelining of minorities,” Kyle Buchanan and Brooks Barnes of The New York Times wrote Sunday night.

“In pushing for more diverse voting ranks, the Academy greatly expanded its foreign contingent, a necessity because Hollywood remains so overwhelmingly white and male,” they said.

Due to the #OscarsSoWhite protests, which criticized the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science’s overwhelming lack of representation for minorities within the film industry both behind and in front of the camera, those in charge sought to regard at least a handful of non-white nominees for solely the representation factor alone — with only one person of color coming up in the mix of A-list names for only one category.

That only person of color nominated for best actor or actress was Cynthia Erivo, nod to her titular role in “Harriet.” She then, after a show-stopping performance of the nominated Best Song “Stand Up” from the film, lost to Renee Zellweger for her performance in “Judy.”

Jennifer Lopez’s performance in “Hustlers” was also overlooked by the Academy, and she too was ousted in the competition for the award.

“The measures taken to diversify the Academy’s voting membership were supposed to avoid scenarios like this, but this time they just… didn’t,” Emily Todd VanDerWerrff of VOX Media said on Jan. 13.

In the show’s entirety, the only films nominated to win the majority of categories, including Best Actor, Best Director, and Best Picture, involved Sam Mendes’ “1917,” Todd Phillips’s “Joker,” Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman,” and Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood.”

These films, the only exception being “Parasite,” were all about, starring, directed by, and written by cisgender heterosexual white males. Director Greta Gerwig of the recent highly-rated adaptation of Lousia May Alcott’s “Little Women” was among those snubbed for Best Director.

“Without the victory for “Parasite,” it was a rather poor year for inclusion at the Oscars,” Buchanan and Barnes said.

“The academy barely avoided another #OscarsSoWhite debacle by nominating Cynthia Erivo (Harriet) for best actress [and] once again, all of the nominees for best director were men, despite it having been a banner year for female filmmakers,” they said.

While the win for “Parasite” did prove to break boundaries in the art of filmmaking, it also did not distract from the fact that, just as the hashtag itself continues to represent, the industry is still largely dominated by the  white majority, with the lack of diversity still very much a problem running deep throughout Hollywood. 

“At the end of the day, the idea that the Oscar nominee slate isn’t particularly diverse is absolutely a problem. But it pales in comparison to how non-diverse Hollywood is as a whole,” VanDerWerff said.

“And as long as that’s true, the 15 to 20 movies that the Oscars seriously consider are more likely than not to be about — and made by — straight white men,” she said.

However, there is still some hope that next year, the film chosen for Best Picture will be from a unique perspective and from a unique director with a vision to accurately represent the underrepresented both on and off the silver screen.

And while this hope is not always a guarantee that every underrepresented film is bound to win, it does mark itself as being a catalyst for change both inside and outside of the studio.

“Now that ‘Parasite’ has made Oscar history, it’s clear that traditional expectations should be thrown out the window,” Buchanan and Barnes said. “In a post-“Parasite” world, the best-picture winner can come from anywhere.” 

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