News / Arts & Entertainment

    Diversity Takes Center Stage at 88th Academy Awards

    Chris Rock hosts the Academy Awards program at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, Feb. 28, 2016.
    Chris Rock hosts the Academy Awards program at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, Feb. 28, 2016.
    VOA News

    Hollywood's biggest stars walked the world's most famous red carpet Sunday to attend the 88th Academy Awards ceremony, the film industry's highest honors.

    This year's show, hosted by comedian Chris Rock, has been marked by controversy regarding the lack of diversity of its nominees. For the second year in a row, only white actors and actresses were chosen for the top four categories -- best actor/actress and best supporting actor/actress.

    The resulting backlash led to several African-American actors and actresses, such as Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith, boycotting the event and the rise of the social media hashtag #OscarsSoWhite.

    Rock opened the show with caustic jokes about the controversy.

    "I'm here at the Academy Awards, otherwise known as the white People's Choice awards. You realize if they nominated hosts, I wouldn't even get this job. You'd be watching Neal Patrick Harris right now."

    Harris, who is white, hosted the event last year. The last black host was Rock himself in 2005.

    The 51-year-old comic got serious during his opening monologue.

    "We want opportunities," Rock said. "We want black actors to get the same opportunities, that's it," he said to rousing applause.

    Best Picture

     "Spotlight," a film about the Boston Globe's Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation into child sex abuse by Catholic priests, won the Oscar for Best Picture.

    WATCH: Penelope Poulou's report on "Spotlight"

    Oscar-Nominated Film Shines Spotlight on Catholic Church Scandali
    X
    January 29, 2016 2:25 AM
    The film "Spotlight" has received six Oscar nominations, including one for Best Picture of the Year. It tells the true story of the Boston Globe's Pulitzer Prize winning "Spotlight" team of investigative journalists, who in 2002 exposed the Catholic Church's systematic cover-up of widespread pedophilia by more than 70 priests in the city of Boston. VOA's Penelope Poulou explains that the power of “Spotlight” lies in its message.

    Best Actor in a Leading Role

    Heavy favorite Leonardo DiCaprio won the Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performance in "The Revenant." In his acceptance speech, he thanked co-star Tom Hardy and director Innarityu and urged more attention to the dangers of climate change.

    "Let us not take this planet for granted. I do not take this night for granted," said DiCaprio, a longtime environmentalist.

    Best Actress in a Leading Role

    Brie Larson won the best-actress Oscar for her performance in "Room."

    Best Director

    Alejandro G. Inarritu was named best director for "The Revenant," this year's most nominated film. It features DiCaprio as a fur trapper who almost dies after being mauled by a bear.

    "I am very lucky to be here tonight but unfortunately many others haven't had the same luck," Inarritu said in accepting his award, referring to the diversity controversy.

    Alejandro G. Inarritu accepts the award for best director for “The Revenant” at the Oscars on Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
    Alejandro G. Inarritu accepts the award for best director for “The Revenant” at the Oscars on Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

    Best Original Song

    Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith won the Oscar for Best Original Song for "Writing's on The Wall" from the movie Spectre."

    "I stand here today as a proud gay man," Smith told the audience, dedicating his award to the LGBT community.

    Sam Smith, right, and Jimmy Napes arrive at the Oscars on Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
    Sam Smith, right, and Jimmy Napes arrive at the Oscars on Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

     

     

    Smith and Napes beat out Lady Gaga, who, along with Diane Warren, wrote "Til It Happens to You." It's the theme song from "The Hunting Ground," a film expose of rape crimes on U.S. college campuses. 

    U.S. Vice President Joe Biden made a surprise appearance at Sunday night's show, asking people to pledge to intervene in sexual encounters when consent has not been given. He then introduced Lady Gaga, who sang "Til It Happens to You."

    Best Foreign Language Film

    The academy selected "Son of Saul," from Hungary, as the best foreign language film.


    Best Supporting Actor, Actress

    First-time nominee Mark Rylance won the Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his performance in "Bridge of Spies," in which he played a Russian operative captured in the United States. During his acceptance speech, which was cut short, he praised co-star Tom Hanks and director Steven Spielberg.

    The award for Best Actress in a Supporting role went to 27-year-old Sweden-born actress Alicia Vikander for her performance in "The Danish Girl."

    Alicia Vikander accepts the award for best actress in a supporting role for “The Danish Girl” at the Oscars on Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
    Alicia Vikander accepts the award for best actress in a supporting role for “The Danish Girl” at the Oscars on Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

    Most awards

    "Mad Max: Fury Road" claimed the most awards, a total of six, for costume design, production design, film editing, sound editing, sound mixing, and makeup and hair styling.

    The South American country of Chile won its first Oscar in the Best Animated Short Film category for "Bear Story." Gabriel Osorio and Pato Escala accepted the award.

    Host Chris Rock and Girl Scouts participate in a skit at the Oscars on Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
    Host Chris Rock and Girl Scouts participate in a skit at the Oscars on Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

    Oscar first: Girl Scout Cookies

    In what was undoubtedly a first at this year's show, host Rock asked the audience to reach into their "millionaire pockets" and buy some Girl Scout cookies to help his daughters sell a record amount this year. 

    Girl Scouts armed with cookies circulated through the audience, where individuals were holding up money to buy boxes of the sweets.

    First award of the night

    The evening's first award went "Spotlight" for Best Original Screenplay.

    Josh Singer, left, and Tom McCarthy accept the award for best original screenplay for “Spotlight” at the Oscars on Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
    Josh Singer, left, and Tom McCarthy accept the award for best original screenplay for “Spotlight” at the Oscars on Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

    More than 40 million people worldwide were expected to watch the ceremony.

    Protests

    Protesters urging a boycott of the Academy Awards congregated near the Dolby Theatre, the awards setting. Dozens of protesters converged on the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Highland Avenue, holding signs and calling for more diversity in feature films.

    Some of the signs included the slogans, "Hollywood Must do Better'' and "Shame on You.''

    Protestors gather outside of the offices of WABC-TV to rally for more diversity in the film industry, Feb. 28, 2016, in New York.
    Protestors gather outside of the offices of WABC-TV to rally for more diversity in the film industry, Feb. 28, 2016, in New York.

     

    WATCH: Photo Gallery - Oscar Winners

    • Mark Rylance, winner of the award for best actor in a supporting role for “Bridge of Spies," from left, Brie Larson, winner of the award for best actress in a leading role for “Room”, Leonardo DiCaprio, winner of the award for best actor in a leading rol
    • Leonardo DiCaprio, winner of the award for best actor in a leading role for "The Revenant", left, embraces Kate Winslet backstage at the Oscars on Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
    • Brie Larson, winner of the award for best actress in a leading role for "Room", left, and Alicia Vikander, winner of the award for best actress in a supporting role for "The Danish Girl" pose backstage at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby
    • Alejandro G. Inarritu poses in the press room with the award for best director for “The Revenant” at the Oscars on Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
    • Emmanuel Lubezki poses with the award for best cinematography for “The Revenant” in the press room at the Oscars on Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
    • Steve Golin, from left, Blye Pagon Faust, Nicole Rocklin and Michael Sugar, winners of the award for best picture for “Spotlight” pose in the press room at the Oscars on Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
    • Laszlo Nemes, of Hungary, poses with the award for best foreign language film for “Son of Saul” in the press room at the Oscars on Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
    • Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, winner of the award for best documentary short subject for "A girl in the river: the price of forgiveness," poses backstage at the Oscars on Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
    • Tina Fey, left, and Steve Carell, right, pose in the press room with Colin Gibson, second left, and Lisa Thompson, winners of the award for best production design for “Mad Max: Fury Road”, at the Oscars on Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angele
    • Chris Evans, center, poses in the press room with David White, left, and Mark Mangini, winners of the award for best sound editing for “Mad Max: Fury Road”, at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
    • Daisy Ridley, left, and Dev Patel, right, pose in the press room with James Gay-Rees, left, and Asif Kapadia, winners of the award for best documentary feature for “Amy”, at the Oscars on Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
    • Jimmy Napes, left, and Sam Smith pose in the press room with the award for best original song for “Writing’s On The Wall” from “Spectre” at the Oscars on Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

    List of Winners in major categories:

    * "Mad Max: Fury Road"  won 6 awards: for Best Costume Design, Best Production Design, Best Makeup and Hair Styling, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing.

    Best Picture - "Spotlight"
    Best Director -
    Alejandro G. Iñárritu "The Revenant"
    Best Cinematography - "The Revenant"
    Best Original Screenplay - "Spotlight"
    Best Actor in a Leading Role - Leonardo DiCaprio for "The Revenant"
    Best Actress in a Leading Role - Brie Larson for "Room"
    Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Mark Rylance for "Bridge of Spies"
    Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Alicia Vikander for "The Danish Girl"
    Best Foreign Language Film - "Son of Saul" - Hungary
    Best Original Song - "Writing's on the Wall" from Spectre - Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith

    WATCH: Photo Gallery - Oscars Red Carpet Looks

    • Leonardo DiCaprio, left, and Kate Winslet arrive at the Oscars on Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
    • Brie Larson arrives at the Oscars on Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
    • Kate Capshaw, left, and Steven Spielberg arrive at the Oscars on Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
    • Taylor Kinney, left, and Lady Gaga arrive at the Oscars on Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
    • Maria Fahl Vikander, from left, Alicia Vikander, and Svante Vikander arrive at the Oscars on Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
    • Margot Robbie arrives at the Oscars on Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
    • J. K. Simmons, left, and Michelle Schumacher arrive at the Oscars on Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
    • Olivia Wilde arrives at the Oscars on Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
    • Charlize Theron arrives at the Oscars on Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
    • Kerry Washington arrives at the Oscars on Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
    • Hannah Bagshawe, left, and Eddie Redmayne arrive at the Oscars on Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
    • Laszlo Nemes, director of Hungary's Best Foreign Language Film nominee "Son of Saul," arrives with guest at the 88th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California, Feb. 28, 2016.
    • Common arrives at the Oscars on Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
    • The Weeknd arrives at the Oscars on Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
    • Sam Smith, right, and Jimmy Napes arrive at the Oscars on Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
    • Heidi Klum arrives at the Oscars on Feb. 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Cranksy
    February 29, 2016 1:48 PM
    Spotlight is a very good film, but I think it is purportedly saying about as much about Boston as the Catholic Church. Why was "Far from the Madding Crowd" not honored by any academy, association or guild that I know of?

    by: edgar from: Michigan
    February 29, 2016 11:41 AM
    Will once again standards will have to lower to accommodate the less talented cry babies

    by: meanbill from: USA
    February 29, 2016 9:24 AM
    Remember that they are all actors that live in a land of fantasy and imagination, and whatever they say or do, is just another part of their acting? .. It's all glamorized acting? .. with political statements that they have no expertize in whatsoever? .. It's just another great big stage production and show, nothing else? .. keep things in perspective?

    by: lone eagle from: Bangkok, Thailand
    February 29, 2016 4:54 AM
    I first learned of the film Spotlight recently after my Sunday Mass when I noticed at a bookstore counter a stack of books titled Betrayal-Spotlight

    In Wikipedia is the Vatican response:

    "Vatican Radio, official radio service of the Holy See, called it "honest" and "compelling" and said it helped the U.S. Catholic Church "to accept fully the sin, to admit it publicly, and to pay all the consequences." Luca Pellegrini on the Vatican Radio website wrote that the Globe reporters "made themselves examples of their most pure vocation, that of finding the facts, verifying sources, and making themselves—for the good of the community and of a city—paladins of the need for justice." In February 2016, a Vatican City commission on clerical sex abuse attended a private screening of the film."

    Hopefully the above statement by the Holy See will encourage other US newspapers to follow the Boston Globe example and investigate the political, economic and social problems confronting American society.
    In Response

    by: lone eagle from: Bangkok, Thailand
    March 01, 2016 6:12 AM
    1 world now from Earth yes I live in Bangkok, Thailand, but I live on the Planet Earth! Meaning that I am just as knowledgeable of the political, economic and social problems that exist in the US as people who live there. Many times I encounter Americans in Bangkok and ask them current event questions and many of them have no clue. As for Thai women being subjected to doing anything that is news to me having lived in the Kingdom for over 30 years.

    Thai culture is a Buddhist culture like Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia and totally unlike the culture in Japan, China, India, Malaysia or Indonesia. Thailand has had a woman PM and the most powerful politician in Myanmar is a woman. The same cannot be said of the US!!!!



    In Response

    by: 1worldnow from: Earth
    February 29, 2016 10:22 PM
    Investigate political, economic, and social problems in America? You hail from Bangkok! Where some of the most beautiful women in the world exists! Subjected to working in massage parlors, strip clubs, and any other sexual related businesses, yet, let's focus on America.

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