OPINION: The Academy Awards: a step forward or a step backward?

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Jeremy Davis
CONTRIBUTOR 

Despite the lack of representation within the nominations, there were still moments where different cultures and perspectives were appreciated.

The Academy Awards celebrated their 92nd show this year, and once again the lack-of-diversity issue was present.

The issue of diversity has always plagued the Academy Awards, as most of the nominees tend to be white males. This year, for example, there were no female directors nominated. The lack of diversity was mentioned by multiple people at the event. However, it looks that the Academy Awards are making changes to address this issue.

One of the changes to the Academy Awards this year was that they changed the name of one of their awards. Best Foreign Language Film has had its name changed to Best International Feature Film. This change shows a more progressive side to the Academy Awards as the word “foreign” is outdated and has a somewhat negative connotation. Along with changing this they also nominated an international film for Best Picture.

There were lots of firsts for people at the awards this year, including Joaquin Phoenix walking away with his first award. But what shocked everyone was Bong Joon Ho’s comedy-drama “Parasite” being the first international feature and South Korean film to ever win an Oscar for Best Picture. “Parasite” was awarded three other Oscars including Best Director, Original Screenplay and Best International Feature Film. Another exciting moment was Matthew A. Cherry and Karen Rupert Toliver’s “Hair Love” winning the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film.

I got goosebumps when they announced “Parasite” for Best Picture. The moment it was announced, the crowd lit up and began cheering louder than any crowd has for a movie winning Best Picture. The cast of the film couldn’t help but grin ear to ear knowing they did what many would call the impossible. Even when the microphones were cut off during the acceptance speech, the audience rallied for them to speak more.

I love how humble Bong Joon Ho was when he won his award as he said:

“I am speechless. We never imagined this could ever happen. We are so happy. A very opportune moment in history is happening right now. I express my deepest gratitude and respect to all the members of the academy for this decision.”

He even asked if he could get a “Texas Chainsaw” to split up the award and share it with the directors who inspired him like Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino.

A lot of people were either upset or surprised that Bong Joon Ho’s film was able to win so many awards at an “American award show.” The Academy Awards isn’t just about American films, however, it’s about the love of films and the people who make them. People shouldn’t get upset over their favorite movie not winning the Oscar for Best Picture. “Parasite” is a spectacular movie and deserved every Oscar it was awarded. I hope that people recognize that movies aren’t just made in America—great films can come from any part of the globe. There are so many great movies that are not being watched just because people are afraid of subtitles and someone speaking a language that isn’t their own.

As a lover of international films, I am overjoyed by the accomplishments of “Parasite” and hope to see more international films be nominated next year. With “Parasite” walking away with so many awards it paves the road for other international directors, and I want other international films to gain as much popularity as this film has.

“Hair Love” is another film that deserved its Oscar and helps with the barren diversity of the Academy Awards. The animated short is about a little girl who struggles to deal with her hair in the absence of her mother. She messes it up and her father tries to help her, but he also gets frustrated. They decide to take it slow and watch a video of her mother that shows how to do the hair style, which helps them stay positive. It’s a delightful film that will have you bawling your eyes out by the end. Cherry and Toliver’s short film is hopefully just a glimpse of their work. I would love to see a full feature film created by them.

Cherry and Toliver accepted their award and said, “We have a firm belief that representation matters deeply, especially in cartoons because they shape how we see our world. We want to normalize black hair.”

The directors of “Hair Love” invited Deandre Arnold, a student who was told he could not walk at graduation because he wouldn’t cut his dreadlocks which went against school dress code. Kids like Arnold are the reason Cherry and Toliver made the film “Hair Love.” Hopefully, this will empower other people to be proud of who they are and not let other people treat them poorly.

This year’s Academy Awards will be remembered for making the right choices when it came to a lot of the awards. This is proven by the audience’s reactions throughout the night as they praised the accomplishments of “Parasite” and “Hair Love.”

If you enjoy going to the movies or just watching them at home, you need to watch these two award winning films—and you will probably be so into the movie you won’t even notice you’re reading the subtitles.

Support films and their creators so they can continue to make fantastic films. “Hair Love” is available on YouTube and “Parasite” is still showing in theaters.

 

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