The 88th Oscars: Leonardo DiCaprio finally gets his win

Caitlin Maloney, Senior Writer

The 88th annual Academy Awards, or Oscars, took place on Feb. 28 as one of the most contentious award shows to date. As host, comedian Chris Rock fearlessly and resolutely confronted the #OscarsSoWhite controversy that had surrounded all coverage of the Oscars since it was released a month prior that all nominations in major acting categories had gone to white entertainers. He began by calling the awards ceremony the “White People’s Choice Awards” and continued to challenge the obvious prejudice inherent in the nominations throughout the entire show. Some of his more notable comments included his internal battle about whether to host or boycott, the stars that did boycott, his skit about Black History Month, and the very simple request for more opportunity for black performers.

There were three big winners for the night. The apocalyptic film “Mad Max: Fury Road” swept up six Academy Awards out of its 10 nominations, mostly in the categories rewarding costume and set design and editing skills. The second biggest winner was “The Revenant,” winning three of the more sought-after awards of Best Actor, Best Director, and Best Cinematography. The only other film accruing more than one award was “Spotlight,” which won Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay.

Based on Instagram and Twitter support, it was clear that some of the most celebrated announcers and winners were Kevin Hart, Brie Larson, Lady Gaga, and Leonardo DiCaprio, who, despite his widespread fame and appearance in a large number of highly regarded films, had never won an Oscar before. Hart confronted the obvious discrimination as he announced an award by asking for the black people seating chart and commenting that “all the black people should be in the front row.” Larson, who won Best Actress, had some touching exchanges with nine-year-old Jacob Tremblay, the actor who played her son in the film “Room.” DiCaprio utilized his minutes on stage during his acceptance speech by expressing his concerns about the lack of acknowledgement of climate change as a real issue and adamantly expressing the change that needs to occur to protect the environment.

The show raised important issues of oppression and marginalization in more ways than one. In a surprising appearance, Vice President Joe Biden communicated to the audience the import of understanding the severity of sexual assault as he introduced Lady Gaga to the stage. Lady Gaga, in an incredibly moving performance of her new song “Til It Happens to You,” demonstrated her first-hand experience with sexual assault by uniting on stage with several survivors of sexual assault and abuse.

Despite being widely contested beforehand, the show ended up being a powerful indication of the problems that Hollywood, and our society at large, must address. From climate change, to racism, to sexual assault, many of the stars that attended utilized their spotlight to make important statements about the widespread change and systemic restructuring that needs to occur for equality to be reached.

“I think it was the most progressive Oscars yet,” Allie McManus ’16 said.

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