Latino filmmakers were able to shine at the 88th Academy Awards with nine nominations. Sadly, it was during a boycott where their onscreen compadres and other people of color were locked out this year from the acting categories, resulting in the #OscarsSoWhite controversy for the second time in a row.
Glimmers of hope for diversity in this year’s Oscars race came mostly in the form of Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu, whose film The Revenant, which has Native American actors, received an astounding 12 nominations. Some of the movie’s nominations included Best Sound Mixing: Frank A. Montaño, Best Sound Editing: Martin Hernández, Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki, Best Director: Iñárritu and the most prestigious award, Best Picture.
The other Latin films and nominees last night were Alê Abreu for O Menino e o Mundo (Boy and the World) for Animated Feature Film along with California-born Jonas Rivera for Inside Out. Representing Chile for Best Animated Short Film with Bear Story is Gabriel Osorio and Pato Escala. Colombia’s El Abrazo de la Serpiente (Embrace of the Serpent) was up for Best Foreign Language film. Cartel Land was up for Best Documentary as a U.S. and Mexico co-production, but none of the Mexican producers had a nomination.
Despite The Revenant winning for only three out of the 12 nominations, the triumphs were historic and memorable. Iñárritu won his fourth Oscar and highlighted his desire for a colorblind world in his speech.
There is a line in the film that [Glass says] to his mixed-race son, ‘They don’t listen to you, they just see the color of your skin,” saidIñárritu. “So what a great opportunity to our generation to really liberate ourselves from all prejudice and, you know, this tribal thinking, and make sure for once and forever that the color of the skin becomes as irrelevant as the length of our hair.”
He is now the third director in 65 years to have back-to-back wins and the first non-white to have done so. For the third year in a row, a Mexican director has won best director. In 2014, Alfonso Cuarón won for Gravity starring Sandra Bullock. In a career spanning 16 years, all of his six films have been nominated for an Oscar.
The other major victors were The Revenant star Leonardo DiCaprio for Best Actor and Lubezki for Best Cinematography.
For DiCaprio, it was a fantastic night. The actor has worked the Hollywood circuit for 25 years and his nomination for the portrayal of the frontiersman, Hugh Glass, was his sixth. Last night he was finally a winner, and he used his speech to raise awareness about climate change and the mistreatment of Native Americans.
Climate change is real, and it’s happening right now,” said DiCaprio. “It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating. We need to support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters or the big corporations, but who speak for all of humanity, for the indigenous people of the world…and for those people out there whose voices have been drowned out by the politics of greed.”
Lubezki, who is Mexican, is the first cinematographer of any nationality to have three consecutive wins in this category. It was his second time teaming up with Iñárritu, and he previously worked on Gravity with Cuarón.
Rivera won Best Animated Feature for Inside Out beating out the other Latin nominee Abreu for O Menino e o Mundo (Boy and the World). Chile took home its first-ever golden statue for the animated feature film Bear Story, which was produced by Escala and written/directed by Osorio. Osorio said his grandfather inspired the 10-minute short.
Bear Story is “a very Latin American movie but with a universal feeling,” said Osorio, “I tried to tell the importance of a family being together. … The message is that we must try not to make the same mistakes of the past.”
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