Hollywood celebrities used the podium at last night’s Oscar awards to address a variety of political topics, including diversity, immigration, women’s rights, terminal illness, suicide and government surveillance.
Even before the ceremony started, people were discussing what many felt was a lack of diversity among those nominated for awards, pointing the fact that all of the actors and actresses nominated for best performances were white.
Actor Neil Patrick Harris, who hosted the Oscars, started the night by making a joke about the lack of diversity.
"Tonight we honor Hollywood's best and whitest — I mean brightest," he said.
Former Oscar winner, actress Octavia Paz said that the diversity issue could be remedied by making more diverse movies.
“Diversity starts when you start making the films and those decision makers need to make more diverse films,” she said.
But diversity was not the only topic covered in the acceptance speeches.
Immigration took the spotlight when actor Sean Penn gave the Best Picture Oscar for “Birdman” to Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu. Penn asked, jokingly, “Who gave this son of a b*** a green card?”
A green card is an authorization to live and work in the U.S.
Iñárritu returned the joke by saying the U.S. government now might make new immigration rules for the Academy. Last year Alfonso Cuarón, another Mexican movie director, won an Oscar for his movie “Gravity.”
"Two Mexicans in a row, that's suspicious, " Iñárritu said.
Iñárritu made serious comments about immigration as well.
He said he hopes the "latest generation of immigrants ... can be treated with the same dignity and respect as the ones who came before and built this incredible immigrant nation."
Patricia Arquette, who won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in the movie “Boyhood,” brought up the issue of equal pay for women.
"To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen in this nation: We have fought for everybody else's equal rights; it's our time to have wage equality in the U.S.,” she said.
Laura Poitras hit some political notes while accepting the Best Documentary Feature award for “Citizenfour,” a film American Edward Snowden, who revealed secret information about U.S. government surveillance to the media.
Poitras said, “the disclosures that Edward Snowden reveals don’t only expose threats to our privacy but to our democracy.”
Some think Edward Snowden is a hero. Others – including U.S. government lawyers - say he is a traitor.
Oscar host Neil Patrick Harris commented on the dispute surrounding Snowden. "The subject of 'Citizenfour' couldn't be here for some treason," he said.
Snowden’s girlfriend was present.
Actress Julianne Moore, who won best actress for her portrayal of a woman suffering from Alzheimer’s disease said people with the disease “deserve to be seen.”
She also praised Richard Glatzer who directed and co-wrote the movie.Glatzer suffers from ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, which is usually fatal and causes a person to lose the ability to move or speak.
ALS was a topic in another nominated movie, “The Theory of Everything,” which is about the scientist Stephen Hawking, who is suffering from the illness.
Actor Eddie Redmayne, who won the best actor award said his award “belongs to all of those people around the world battling ALS.”
"The Imitation Game," a movie about computer pioneer Alan Turing who committed suicide after being convicted of indecency because he was a homosexual sparked a discussion of suicide.
Writer Graham Moore won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for the movie, said he tried to kill himself as a teenager.
"I felt weird and I felt different and I felt like I did not belong," he said. "I would like this moment to be for the kid out there who feels like she's weird and different and feels like she doesn't belong ... Yes, you do."
Filmmaker Dana Perry also talked about suicide when she accepted the best documentary Oscar for "Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1."
Perry said she had lost her son to suicide and that "we should talk about suicide out loud.”