On February 28, the 88th annual Academy Awards took place at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles, and if one thing is for sure, they had people talking the next day.
The night was filled with many unexpected—as well as some long awaited—moments, some that viewers loved and, of course, some that they hated. This being stated, viewership for Hollywood’s biggest night was down, at just 34.4 million people tuning in to watch, giving it the lowest ratings in eight years. Nonetheless, critics say that these Oscars were much different than those in recent years, mostly caused by three moments that sparked such a great amount of discussion.
The first moment began the second host Chris Rock walked onto the stage at the beginning of the show, and continued throughout the entire night. Of course, he addressed the #OscarsSoWhite controversy—talking about the lack of diversity among all the acting nominees —from the second he began his opening monologue. It is obvious that he needed to discuss the issue, which he did rightfully so; however, after a certain amount of mentions, including focusing upon it in sketches, interviews, and even an appearance by none other than Stacey Dash, viewers began to wonder if it was too much. Some felt that it was a proper and justified amount, but others, such as variety.com, feel that “the producers and host went back to that issue a few times too many.”
The second notable moment of the night came when Lady Gaga performed her nominated song, “Til It Happens to You.” The song, which is co-written by Gaga and Diane Warren, is a message about sexual abuse. Joe Biden introduced Lady Gaga’s performance, where he “talked about the importance of raising awareness for consent on college campuses and around the country with hopes to reduce the amount of sexual assaults” (justjared.com). At first, it was only Lady Gaga on stage, but towards the end of the song, numerous survivors of sexual assault joined her and helped her to finish her performance. They all received a standing ovation, and although the song did not win, Gaga accomplished exactly what she wanted to—raising awareness through what was easily the most powerful moment of the night.
The third moment that defined this year’s Academy Awards was one that has been years in the making: Leonardo DiCaprio finally won the award for Best Male Actor in a Leading Role for The Revenant. This was Leo’s sixth nomination in this category, and his first win. Although he had long been the frontrunner, his win caused an eruption of applause from the crowd, as well as overwhelming excitement for at-home viewers. In his acceptance speech, Leo did something different and took time to address environmental issues he is known for supporting. He stated, “Making The Revenant was about man’s relationship to the natural world, a world that we collectively felt in 2015 as the hottest year in recorded history . . . Climate change is real, it is happening right now, it is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating . . . Let us not take this planet for granted, I do not take tonight for granted” (time.com).
These three prominent moments that took place during the Oscars most definitely helped to illustrate the overall occurrences of the night. They also, however, helped to bring major issues the world is currently facing to a platform where they could be talked about and awareness could be spread, in which sense they were obviously very successful.