We called the 2015 Oscar nominations “a dark day for women in Hollywood.” Unfortunately that description fits most years, and certainly this one. #OscarsSoWhite rightfully dominated headlines about the Academy Awards this year, but a lot of outlets seemed to mostly ignore the fact that it is also #OscarsSoMale. As with all installments of the Oscars, this year’s telecast and the weekend leading up to it will be remembered for both its highs and lows. We’ve compiled some of the most inspiring, fist pumping moments and the ones that made us shake our heads with disbelief and disappointment.
Kate McKinnon’s “Carol” Parody from the Indie Spirit Awards
“Saturday Night Live” player — and star of Paul Feig’s upcoming “Ghostbusters” — Kate McKinnon stole the show at the Indie Spirit Awards. The co-host brought tons of laughs, including a bit where she confessed her love for Paul Dano (“Love & Mercy), whom she described as a “hunky sad-eyed sex machine” before kissing him with a mouthful of ham. Most memorable, though, was her portrayal of Cate Blanchett’s titular character in “Carol.” Her “glove lunch” had us in stitches proving that she would be a great host for next year’s Oscars.
Mya Taylor Wins Best Supporting Actress at Indie Spirit Awards
Mya Taylor became the first transgender actress to win a major acting award for her performance in “Tangerine.” She made history. We know that the unfortunate reality is that we rarely see trans actors in films. The few prominent films that feature transgender characters typically have cis actors and actresses portraying them ie the Oscar-nominated “The Danish Girl”. Taylor used her time on the stage at the Indie Spirit Awards to encourage filmmakers to cast trans actors and actresses: “There is transgender talent. There is very beautiful transgender talent. So you better get out there and put it in your next movie.”
Cathy Schulman’s Call for Gender Equality at the Women in Film Pre Oscars bash
Oscar-winning producer Cathy Schulman made the case for women-centric content in clear, unapologetic terms. The president of Women in Film stated, “No more talking about it. No more dealing with it only as philanthropy.” “This is a business issue,” she explained: “Movies and television for women and girls make money.” Yep — the facts are on her side.
Lady Gaga Stands Up For Survivors at the Oscars
Lady Gaga’s powerful performance of “Till It Happens To You,” a tribute to survivors of sexual abuse, was hands-down the most emotional moment of the night. Footage from the ceremony showed that many audience members, including Rachel McAdams, were in tears. Towards the conclusion of the song, about three dozen brave survivors were invited to join Gaga onstage. Sadly “Till It Happens To You” didn’t take home the prize, but the Diane Warren co-penned song brought hope and healing to so many, and we’d bet that many Oscar viewers will be inspired to check out the timely and terrifying documentary the song was written for, “The Hunting Ground.”
Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy Wins the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short
Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy was honored for “A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness,” a documentary short about a young woman who survived an attempted honor killing by her family. Her win is important for a variety of reasons: 1) It was great to see a female filmmaker onstage, and particularly a woman of color. 2) It was especially great to see a female filmmaker onstage for telling a woman’s story. 3) Obaid-Chinoy took the opportunity to celebrate other women, and “the men who champion women.”
“This is what happens when women get together,” she said of the award. Amen. The helmer also revealed that after the Pakistani prime minister saw the short he said he would change the law on honor killing — as Obaid-Chinoy observed, “That is the power of film.” “A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness” will debut March 7 on HBO.
Chris Rock’s Monologue Acknowledges Hollywood Is Racist
Chris Rock kicked off his hosting duties with a hilarious joke. “Is Hollywood racist?,” he asked. The comedian answered his question by saying, “You’re damn right Hollywood is racist.” He elaborated, “It isn’t the racist you’ve grown accustomed to. Hollywood is sorority racist. It’s like: ‘We like you Rhona, but you’re not a Kappa.’ That’s how Hollywood is racist.” And while we appreciated that Rock and others kept the conversation about the Oscars’ whiteness at the forefront, by our account, the first time Asians and Hispanics were recognized at the Oscars was about two hours into the ceremony — and by a random person being interviewed at a movie theater. (Food for thought: More white actresses have won Oscars for playing Asians than actual Asian actresses have won.)
Girl Scouts Get Love
Chris Rock got into the competitive spirit and used the Oscars as a platform to help his daughters raise the most money for the Girl Scouts. Girl Scout cookies are beloved by all, and Rock realized the audience in the room had especially deep pockets (and they are always hungry after sitting for so long). So he brought out some Girl Scouts to sell cookies, bringing joy and deliciousness to all those who partook, raising more than $65,000 in the process.
Alejandro G. Iñárritu Has More Oscars Than Women Directors Combined
For the second year in a row, Alejandro G. Iñárritu was named Best Director. This is the third back-to-back win for a director. Only one woman has ever won Best Director — Kathryn Bigelow in 2010 for “The Hurt Locker.”
This is nothing personal against Iñárritu, who is in fact the first Mexican director to be nominated for Best Director (back in 2007 for “Babel”). He also touched on Hollywood’s lack of inclusion in his speech. He said, “I’m very lucky to be here tonight, but unfortunately, many others haven’t had the same luck.” He then added, “Erase ourselves of all prejudice and make sure for once and forever that the color of the skin becomes as irrelevant as the length of my hair.” So kudos to “The Revenant” director for tackling this subject in his speech. We just want more people to realize that, along with race, gender is a critical part of this conversation, and a real source of prejudice in the industry, especially for female directors.
Sacha Baron Cohen as Ali G
The jokes weren’t funny. It is absolutely possible to make good jokes about race — his just didn’t land. Most disappointingly, Baron Cohen did a real disservice to “Room” as a Best Picture nominee. All of the other contenders received laudatory introductions — the kind of introductions that would make people want to see these films. “Room,” a tiny indie feature that could very much use the boost, was introduced as “a movie about a room full of white people.” It is of course a movie about a sexual abuse survivor and, as screenwriter Emma Donogue calls it, a hymn to motherhood. Not cool.
The Reactions to Jenny Beavan’s Outfit
Jenny Beavan scored the Oscar for Costume Design for the unforgettable looks in “Mad Max: Fury Road,” and Beavan brought her distinct brand of style to the Oscars. Based on a widely circulating video, some of those in attendance were seemingly less than impressed with her choice of outfit. As Beavan walked towards the stage to accept her award, many attendees in the shot weren’t clapping. Who goes to an awards show and doesn’t clap for the winners? And because of their outfit? We can’t help but think that the reactions had much to do with the fact that Beavan is a woman — and a woman over the age of 30– who isn’t dressed in a conventionally feminine manner. Even the women who wear pantsuits at the Oscars typically show cleavage and have their clothes tailored to emphasize their bodies. Beavan, meanwhile, wore faux leather pants and a loose fitting jacket. And looked like a total badass.
Beavan has already been the subject of some controversy this awards season. She was famously described as a “bag lady” by Stephen Fry at the BAFTAs, and the resulting public outcry led Fry to deactivate his Twitter account.
When asked about her outfit on Oscar night and what went down at the BAFAs, Beavan said, “I’m very happy to talk about it.” She explained, “I really don’t do frocks, and I absolutely don’t do heels. I simply can’t wear them. I’ve got a bad back that, and I look ridiculous in a beautiful gown. And this was an homage to “Mad Max” and I didn’t get it quite right at the BAFTAs obviously. The scarf was supposed to be an oily rag, but I’m actually in Marks & Spencer’s with a little Swarovski addition on the back. And unfortunately, I had a shoe malfunction. The glitter fell off that shoe, but you know what? I blame the desert sand for that entirely. And I just ‑‑ I just like feeling comfortable. And I’m sorry, as far as I’m concerned, I’m really dressed up. And also for my friends at PETA, the People’s Ethical Treatment of Animals, fake, not leather.”
She did Furiosa proud.
Beavan also offered interesting insight into why women are well-represented in costume design, and what the rest of Hollywood can learn from that. She emphasized that women are “extremely good organizers. We’re good at scheduling, we’re good at budgets. I think they could learn quite a lot from us, and we tend to run quite fun departments.” Beavan also made a point of mentioning that she “love[s] working with women directors.”