By Luciana Leitão
So long as I can remember, I have always made time to see the Oscars — even today, when I am a grown up and have several responsibilities.
I was four or five years old when my brothers would gather in the living room to see what was happening in Kodak Theatre (now Dolby Theatre). Bare in mind that, in Portugal, the ceremony starts around midnight and goes well into the morning, finishing around 7 am in the old days — when they didn’t cut speeches — and, now, around 4 am.
When I grew up and was able to stay up late, I too started watching the Oscars. So, if I do the maths, I can easily say that for the past 20 years, I haven’t missed a show — first, with my brothers; later, with my friends of a lifetime. It was a night of fun, sugar, endless talks, failed bets on the winners and even naps — let’s face it, it was hard to survive the more technical awards.
For me the Oscars is the opportunity to see, in a different way, all the people that usually get inside my home just for a few hours, making me travel into another dimension, another country, another world, another job, another life. They make you dream, think, laugh and cry. For 120 minutes you are there, inside the screen, inside the plot.
Then, there’s Hollywood, which comes along and pulls you away from the dream, slapping you in the face with reality. Even if the naive girl in me doesn’t believe it, the grown-up one cannot hide away from the truth.
The Oscars have never been only about dreams. It is the reflection of a multimillion-dollar industry dressed up in beautiful designers’ clothes, smiling and waving to the cameras.
This years’ edition of the Academy Awards was strange. Since only white actors and actresses were among the chosen few in the top four categories, there was a movement resurgence of the social media hashtag #OscarsSoWhite.
As a result, host Chris Rock (see the picture above) had an opening monologue, highlighting the lack of diversity in Hollywood. And all throughout the 88th Academy Awards the jokes were about the lack of black contenders to the main awards or, more broadly, the lack of equality in the industry.
Yet, even though I do sympathise with the topic, the approach was not very smart, in my opinion, as, by mid show, I was already tired of hearing the same type of jokes. Also, inequality is not only about black and white people, it’s much more than that. So, Chris Rock, if you want to prove your point, please don’t do so by stating pre-conceived ideas about Asian people, as we saw in the show. Your concept of inequality proved to be highly limited.
Nevertheless, on a positive note, I have to say that I was happy with the awards. For me, “Spotlight” — the winner of the Best Film Award — was indeed the best one, relying on nothing but extraordinary actors and a wonderful plot to pass on a powerful message. Leonardo DiCaprio, for his role in “The Revenant”, also won a well-deserved Oscar. Not to mention the 87-year-old Ennio Morricone, who finally won a long-deserved award, for the soundtrack of the latest Tarantino film, “The Hateful Eight”.
Still, after watching the ceremony, I couldn’t avoid thinking on the politics involved — the ceremony, the statements and even the awards themselves. And I kept thinking that cinema, which should be all about dreams-come-true, is really nothing more than a mere illusion. And the little girl in me felt disappointed.