Time to Unpack: Oscars 2017

The Oscars are kind of like when you come back from vacation, you fall into bed and you just leave your giant-ass suitcase in the hallway. Then the next day you have to unpack it all.

(Disclaimer: neat people may not find this relatable.)

And man is there a lot to unpack.

Going in, I said five things about the impending Oscars:

  1. Rogue One should win Best Special Effects. No matter how viewers felt about the CGI resurrection of Tarkin and the manifestation of Young Leia, it is a new frontier and if no one uses the technology then it won’t improve.
  1. La La Land is a good movie that does not deserve 14 nominations. It’s sugary, colourful and says a lot of things, while not having a lot to say.
  1. If Moana loses best song to La La Land then my heart will break. And I will rage, RAGE against the dying of the light (no I am not being dramatic, don’t touch me).
  1. If Mel Gibson is acknowledged in any way I will lose my damn mind.
  1. If Casey Affleck wins anything… same.

I lost my Oscar pool.

Last year, the biggest takeaway of the season was that the Academy is sorely lacking in diversity and inclusion. #OscarsSoWhite, created by @ReignOfApril, was a call to action.

Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, promised to shake up the Academy voting body, to allow a greater variety of voices to be heard. They culled the older crop of voters and welcomed 683 new ones. The members who voted on this years Oscars were 27% female, 11% People of Colour. This may seem like a infinitesimal shift (and it is, don’t worry it’s not just you), but this is a long term, 10 year plan, and they’re hoping for gender parity and proportional racial representation by then.

The fight for equality is a long game. We can be proud of the small victories while still pointing out that we have a ways to go.

The first woman in 17 years to be nominated for Best Score is Jackie’s Mica Levi.

The first black woman to ever be nominated for Best Editing is Moonlight’s Joi Mcmillon.

How Far I’ll Go, written by Puerto Rican-American composer Lin Manuel Miranda and performed Native Hawaiian actress Auli’i Cravalho, was nominated for Best Song.

Mahershala Ali is the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar in any category.

These amazing people were meant to share the stage with Casey Affleck, a man who settled two sexual harassment and assault cases out of court, but won Best Actor anyway. Brie Larson, who is an advocate for victims of sexual assault, was forced to present Affleck with his award. For the second time this season. 

This was a year with incredible milestones that occurred in the same night as Mel Gibson, an antisemitic, misogynistic abuser was welcomed back with open arms and flowing thanks in several speeches.

Asghar Farhadi’s film The Salesman won Best Foreign Film, but he is Iranian. Iran is one of the seven countries that the Muslim Ban enacted by President Trump affects. Instead of accepting the exemption he was offered, he chose to boycott the ceremony and sent Anousheh Ansari in his place. She was the first Iranian in space.

Another year passed with no women nominated for Best Director. There have been only four women nominated in the history of the ceremony.

It’s enough to make me want to curl up under the covers and listen to Viola Davis’ beautiful and poetic acceptance speech on loop.


There were dozens of people wearing ACLU ribbons in solidarity.

Presenters shared the stage with the heroes of their favourite childhood movies.

The documentary about first responders in Aleppo, The White Helmets, won best documentary short, garnering more support and donations for their cause.

The nominations for Best Picture were diverse, innovative and heart rending.

And then…

In a spectacle that will be remembered for as long as the Oscars continue, Moonlight won Best Picture.

Moonlight is the story of Chiron, a gay, black man living in the Miami projects. It is deeply personal and visually stunning. Film is art and like all art, it exists to make us feel things, to introduce us to worlds and people, and make them real.

I’m a filmmaker, so the Oscars are my Superbowl (and my team won so I don’t have to riot). I’ve dreamt my whole life about being up there with my heroes, accepting an award for a story. Director, Barry Jenkins exclaimed, “to hell with dreams! I’m done with it, because this is true,” as he stood among his cast and crew. It is real. People get there. But it’s up to all of us to make this a world, community and industry that gives everyone the same chance to do it.

We have a long way to go, but Moonlight’s existence and victory shows us how far we’ve come.

It’s still the beginning of 2017, and it’s a good start to this year in film.

About author

Film writer at Live in Limbo. Student, writer, filmmaker, dork. Follow her on Twitter @FictionalizedMe.