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Blue Ribbons on the Red Carpet
This year, the stars were making political statements before anyone even took the stage. A handful of celebrities accessorized their formal wear with blue ACLU ribbons, to signify solidarity with the organization. “I’m wearing an ACLU ribbon because they’re fighting incredible fights right now for American ideals,” Hamilton mastermind and Best Original Song nominee (for Moana’s “How Far I’ll Go”) Lin-Manuel Miranda said. Also wearing the blue ribbon was nominee Ruth Negga, who got a nod for portraying Mildred Loving, whom the ACLU assisted in the 1967 landmark Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia, in Jeff Nichols’ Loving; nominated Moonlight writer-director Barry Jenkins; and model Karlie Kloss. In addition to the ACLU ribbons, nominee Emma Stone and presenter Dakota Johnson politicized their Oscar fashion with pins of the Planned Parenthood logo.
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Jimmy Kimmel Jokes about Trump (and Matt Damon)
First-time Oscar host Jimmy Kimmel didn’t waste any time before getting political, and kept the Trump jokes coming throughout the telecast. He began his opening monologue by saying people kept telling him that he should use his platform to unite the country, but “I can’t do that,” he said. “There’s only one Braveheart in this room, and he’s not going to unite us either.” He encouraged the audience to engage in open dialogue with people with whom they disagree, and then set the example by showering Matt Damon with insults thinly disguised as compliments. He finished the monologue by, surprisingly enough, thanking the president, reminding the left-leaning attendees that last year, “it seemed like the Oscars were racist.” His intermittent appearances throughout the show also included jokes condemning fake news (“fake tans we love, but no fake news”) and celebrating Doctor Strange, who Kimmel said was recently appointed to Trump’s cabinet.
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Best Makeup Is Dedicated to Immigrants
Accepting the Oscar for Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Suicide Squad’s Alessandro Bertolazzi made a political statement with a brief dedication. “I’m an immigrant. I come from Italy; I work around the world,” he said. “This is for all the immigrants.”
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Asghar Farhadi Makes a Statement
Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi, whose film The Salesman was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, had already announced prior to the Awards that he would not be attending the ceremony in protest of Trump’s immigration ban. So when he won the Oscar (his second), he wasn’t able to receive it in person. Accepting the award on his behalf, Iranian-American engineer and the world’s first female space tourist Anousheh Ansari read a statement that the filmmaker had prepared. “My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of other six nations whom have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the U.S.,” she read. “Dividing the world into the ‘us’ and ‘our enemies’ categories creates fear — a deceitful justification for aggression and war. These wars prevent democracy and human rights in countries which have themselves been victims of aggression. Filmmakers can turn their cameras to capture shared human qualities and break stereotypes of various nationalities and religions. They create empathy between us and others — an empathy which we need today more than ever.”
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Gael García Bernal Takes a Stand
In between presenting the Oscars for Best Animated Short and Best Animated Feature, Gael García Bernal took a moment to take a stand. “As a Mexican, as a Latin American, as a migrant worker, as a human being, I am against any form of wall that wants to separate us,” the actor said. His remarks were well timed: Accepting their Oscar moments later, the Zootopia filmmakers said they were glad that audiences embraced their film, as it preaches that “tolerance [is] more powerful than fear of the other.”
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Best Documentary Short Gets a Standing Ovation
The statuette for Best Documentary Short went to Netflix’s The White Helmets, which shines the spotlight on the Syrian rescue group of the same name. After producer Joanna Natasegara thanked the White Helmets, director Orlando von Einsiedel read a statement from the group’s leader, Raed Saleh. “We are so grateful that this film has highlighted our work to the world. Our organization is guided by a verse in the Quran: ‘To save one life is to save all of humanity,’” the filmmaker read. “We have saved more than 82,000 civilian lives. I invite anyone here who hears me to work on the side of life to stop the bloodshed in Syria and around the world.” Von Einsiedel followed up the statement with a request of the audience: “It’s very easy for these guys to feel they’re forgotten. This war has been going on for six years. If everyone could just stand up and remind them that we all care that this war ends as quickly as possible.” The crowd at the Dolby enthusiastically obliged.
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A Shoutout to Public Schools
La La Land’s Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul were nominated in the Best Original Song category twice, for the musical’s dreamy “City of Stars” and hopeful “Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” and took home the statuette for the former. The trio took turns at the mic, and co-lyricist Paul used his moment onstage to give a shoutout to the public school system, which, it appears, is poised for significant change under Trump’s controversial, confirmed Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. “I was educated in public schools, where arts and culture were valued, recognized, and resourced,” Paul said. “And I’m so grateful to all my teachers who taught so much and gave so much to us.”
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Best Adapted Screenplay Goes Out to Everyone With 'No Mirror'
Barry Jenkins’ moving indie Moonlight took the prize for Best Adapted Screenplay, which Jenkins co-wrote with Tarell Alvin McCraney, on whose play, In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, the film was based. “I told my students that I teach sometimes, be in love with the process, not the result — but I really wanted this result because a bajillion people are watching,” Jenkins said. “And all you people out there who feel like there’s no mirror for you, that your life is not reflected, the Academy has your back, the ACLU has your back, we have your back, and over the next four years we will not leave you alone. We will not forget you.” McCraney, a MacArthur Genius Grant recipient, then dedicated the award “to all those black and brown boys and girls and nongender-conforming [people] who don’t see themselves. We are trying to show you you and us. So thank you, thank you, this is for you.”