When this year’s Oscar nominations were announced last month, the biggest disappointment of all was the absolute lack of women nominated for Best Director—despite the plethora of extraordinary female-directed films this year (shout out, The Farewell!) It was also upsetting to see, yet again, a dearth of non-white nominees. (Cynthia Erivo was the only actor of colour nominated.) Unsurprisingly, a few attendees seized on opportunities to call out this year’s #OscarsSoMale controversy, and other issues. Below, a brief rundown of all the call-outs.
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Natalie Portman’s extraordinary dress
Natalie Portman may not be nominated this year, but she arguably won the entire evening early on when she showed up wearing this cape.
Let’s take a closer look at that, shall we?
Yep, emblazoned on Natalie’s cape are the last names of several female directors who were snubbed by the Academy this year: Lulu Wang (The Farewell), Greta Gerwig (Little Women), Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers), Marielle Heller (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood), Mati Diop (Atlantics), Melina Matsoukas (Queen & Slim), Alma Har’el (Honey Boy), and Céline Sciamma (Portrait of a Lady on Fire). This is not the first time she’s made her feelings clear on this subject—last year on the Golden Globes stage, she called out the HFPA for their own lack of nominations for female directors. KEEP DOING GOD’S WORK, NATALIE.
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For the second year in a row, the Oscars had no host this year, but Steve Martin and Chris Rock did kick off the show with a back-and-forth in which they got in a couple of well-placed jabs at the lack of diversity. “So many great directors nominated this year, but there was something missing,” Steve Martin mused. “Vaginas?” Chris Rock replied. Yep. Yep, that was it.
The lack of black nominees this year did not go unnoticed either—”Think how much the Oscars have changed in the past 92 years,” Martin said. “Back in 1929, there were no black acting nominees!” Rock responded, “And now in 2020, we got one!”
Mark Ruffalo presenting Best Documentary
As he presented the nominees for Best Documentary, Mark Ruffalo made sure to highlight the fact that four of the movies nominated were directed or co-directed by women.
— ABC News (@ABC) February 10, 2020
In case you’re keeping score, the Best Documentary winner American Factory was co-directed by Julia Reichert, while For Sama (Waad al-Kateab), The Edge of Democracy (Petra Costa), and Honeyland (Tamara Kotevska) also featured women behind the camera.
Janelle Monáe’s musical number
Janelle Monáe used her opening number to remind viewers that just because #OscarsSoWhite isn’t the dominant hashtag this year, that doesn’t mean it’s not a problem. “The Oscars, it’s so white, it’s time to come alive,” she sang, with impeccable shade. Later in the song she also shouted out Dolemite Is My Name, for which Eddie Murphy was snubbed. She also called out women filmmakers, then added, “I’m so proud to be standing here as a Black, queer artist telling stories. Happy Black History Month.”
So as galling as the inequality in the nominations was, at least it didn’t go unacknowledged—and the night wrapped up on an incredibly inspiring note as Parasite became the first foreign film ever to win the Best Picture award.
This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US.
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