Monday 20 November 2017

Forget the accolades, Oscar winners more interested in hitting campaign trail

Tim Walker

When Michael Moore protested against the war in Iraq in his 2003 acceptance speech, or when Marlon Brando sent a Native American rights activist to decline his Oscar for Best Actor in 1973, theirs were the lone dissenting voices in a chorus of celebrity self-congratulation.

But the winners at this year's Academy Awards were the most campaigning group in memory, delivering speeches that included heartfelt calls for women's rights, African-American civil rights, immigrant rights and gay rights.

During the ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Sunday evening, the British Best Actor winner Eddie Redmayne dedicated his win to ALS sufferers around the world in particular Stephen Hawking, whom he portrayed in 'The Theory of Everything'. Julianne Moore, who won Best Actress for her portrayal of a woman diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 'Still Alice', reserved particular thanks for her co-director, Richard Glatzer, who also suffers from ALS.

Patricia Arquette, named Best Supporting Actress for her 12-years-in-the-making turn as a working mother in 'Boyhood', ended her acceptance speech with a demand for gender equality, cheered enthusiastically by her fellow nominee, Meryl Streep. "It's our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America."

Her remarks came on a night when the hashtag #AskHerMore trended on Twitter, encouraging journalists to ask actresses better questions than which designer created their outfit.

"This is a movement to say we're more than just our dresses," Best Actress nominee Reese Witherspoon said.

While the ceremony may have been political, the films it chose to honour largely were not. 'Birdman' is the third Best Picture winner in four years whose subject - like 'Argo' in 2013 and 'The Artist' in 2012 - was showbusiness. Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu's backstage black comedy won Oscars in four categories, a haul matched by Wes Anderson's 'Grand Budapest Hotel'.

'Boyhood', the early awards season frontrunner, garnered just one award all evening.

Despite the recent fuss about the Academy's lack of diversity, a Latin American film-maker has now won the Oscar for Best Director two years in a row. In 2014 it was Alfonso Cuaron for 'Gravity'; this year it was Iñarritu, who also shared the award for Best Original Screenplay. His film's Mexican cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki took home his second Oscar in as many years - he also won last year for 'Gravity'.

Irish Independent

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