The Best of the Big Screen

A Reflection on the 88th Oscars

March 16, 2016

Pop the popcorn and claim the coziest chair: it’s time to huddle around the small screen to celebrate the greatest achievements of the big screen at the Oscars. The first Oscars ceremony took place in Los Angeles in May of 1929, honoring the most acclaimed films of 1927 and 1928. Every year since, it has been a tradition for the Film Academy to acknowledge the best films of the year by presenting them with a golden award — the Oscar. Now, almost 90 years later, we have just celebrated the 88th Oscars Ceremony. The 2016 Academy Awards was undoubtedly going to be a show to remember, with such widely-acclaimed movies such as The Revenant, Spotlight, The Martian, and more, all fighting for the same acclaim — and it definitely didn’t disappoint.

The host of the Oscars for 2016 was Chris Rock. Throughout the night, he made many references acknowledging the fact that the Academy didn’t nominate any actors of color for this year’s award ceremony. This controversy inspired the hashtag ‘OscarsSoWhite,’ which was popular up to and during the night of the awards. He even directly raised the question of whether or not Hollywood was racist. “Is Hollywood racist?” Rock said. “You’re d*mn right Hollywood’s racist, just not the racist that you’ve grown accustomed to. Hollywood is sorority racist.” There was no doubt, however, that Chris Rock tried to keep the tone of the show light and humorous, even going so far as to bring his daughter and her Girl Scout troop down into the audience to sell cookies.

In contrast to the comedic tone Rock provided, there were deeper messages conveyed by performers during the show as well. Lady Gaga performed ‘Till it Happens to You,” a touching song about people suffering from sexual abuse. She invited real survivors who had messages such as ‘Survivor’ and ‘Unbreakable’ inscribed on their arms to stand beside her while she sang. The song was a nod to the “It’s on Us” campaign that helps end sexual assault all across the nation. It was an unforgettable tribute that touched viewers everywhere.

Throughout the night, the audience was kept on its toes as the show surprised viewers by interweaving many pop culture references and personalities into the celebration. The Minions from Despicable Me made a guest appearance to present the “Best Animated Short Film” award. To celebrate Toy Story’s 20th anniversary, Buzz Lightyear and Woody gave the “Best Animated Film” Oscar to Inside Out, another Disney-Pixar film. Even C-3PO and R2-D2 from Star Wars wandered onstage, along with BB-8 from the newest addition to the Star Wars saga, The Force Awakens.

As is common with every awards show, there were certain awards that were predicted as “shoe-ins,” while others were a complete surprise. Mad Max: Fury Road dominated in almost every category, winning a total of six Oscars (the highest individual tally of the night). Its unique filming style and mood gave it a leg up in the many of the award departments. One of the most highly-praised movies of the year was undoubtedly The Revenant. Its chilling, surreal subject matter and well-known stars made it a prime nomination for the grand title of Best Picture of the Year — but it didn’t win. The “Best Picture” award for 2016 went to Spotlight, starring Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton, and Mark Ruffalo. The film was based on the true story of a journalistic investigation led by The Boston Globe of a sexual abuse scandal involving the Catholic Church.

A highlight of the evening came when, after five previous Oscar nominations, Leonardo DiCaprio finally received the award of “Best Actor” for his role in The Revenant. His acceptance speech was humble and gracious, and concluded with a recognition of The Revenant‘s unique focus on humans’ relationship with the natural world, and an unforgettable reminder of the effects of climate change. He ended by stating, “Let’s not take the planet for granted. I do not take tonight for granted.” One of the biggest unexpected awards of the night was Mark Rylance’s win for Best Supporting Actor in Bridge of Spies over Sylvester Stallone’s portrayal of Rocky in Creed. Many people proclaimed that he had ‘out-punched’ Rocky, but he responded in very humbly. “I don’t know how they separated the five of us from all the other supporting actors that are making films at the moment.” Rylance then declared that, “It’s a wonderful time to be an actor.”

And it’s a wonderful time to be a movie-goer. With a number of highly-anticipated movies scheduled to come out within the next year, we have high hopes that the 89th Academy Award ceremony will be as competitive and exciting as the one we just witnessed. After all, as the Oscar slogan states, “We all dream in gold.”


Originally published in 2015-16 Issue #5

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