A night of many firsts (and some well-deserved seconds)! The Oscars this year made more than a statement as people of colour took home big wins, making a triumphant mark at Los Angeles’ Dolby Theatre.
But going into the night, who could have predicted that the 91st Academy Awards would create such historical moments. We are talking about Black Panther’s costume designer Ruth E. Carter, who has become the first African American woman to win an Oscar in the costume design category. She beat Sandy Powell, Alexandra Byrne, and Mary Zophres to secure her spot among the winners.
Shortly after Carter’s historical achievement, the next big win was for Black Panther – Best Production Designer, Hannah Beachler. Having brought Wakanda to life in all its vivacious colours, Beachler became the first African-American to win an Oscar in production design.
The winning streak continued with Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse director Peter Ramsey, the first African-American director to have landed an Oscar for an animated feature film. Director Alfonso Cuaron’s Netflix film Roma made a clean-sweep with an Oscar for the best foreign language film. For the uninitiated, Roma is the first film from Mexico to receive the coveted honour from the Academy.
Despite its share of controversy – the visible absence of a host – the 2019 Oscars stirred a wave with its set of diverse winners and their incredible contribution to filmmaking. Here’s a look at the top films that will continue to serve as an inspiration.
Netflix Roma is Alfonso Cuaron’s most “personal film” till date. The Spanish-language, black-and-white memoir is an account of the filmmaker’s childhood years in Mexico, growing up in the neighbourhood of Roma. The spotlight on the childhood nostalgia is unmissable as Cuaron, who produced, wrote and directed Roma, recreated his memories with a special emphasis on Liboria Rodriguez, the nanny who had a profound role in raising him.
A musical ode to the genius that is Freddie Mercury, the film, starring Rami Malek in the lead role, is an inspiring watch in more ways than one. Bohemian Rhapsody begins with a young Freddie, juggling between his Zanzibar roots and his musical aspirations. It traces the journey of the Queen frontman through the years until the time when his music and personal life both had become subjects of wild interest.
If not for the incredible story of the rise of Queen, their foot-stomping music, the biopic is a must-watch for the sheer brilliance of Malek, who bagged the Oscar for Best Actor.
A Star is Born
“When we’re young, we all have dreams of what we can accomplish in life. Having the dream is easy. Making it come true is hard.” With these inspiring words, Serena Williams introduced Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s musical delight, A Star is Born to the Dolby Theatre. The film follows Ally (Lady Gaga) and country music star Jackson (Cooper), and their wild escapades through music, heartbreak, and drug and alcohol addiction.
If Beale Street Could Talk
A follow-up to the 2016 Oscar-winning drama Moonlight, director Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk is best described as a “timeless and moving love story”. Told through the eyes of 19-year-old Tish Rivers, the story, adapted from James Baldwin’s novel; talks of 1970s Harlem, African-American dreams, family bonds, and an evident miscarriage of justice.
Since its release, the film has been a talking point, and now more so with Regina King’s Oscar win for her performance as Tish’s mother Sharon Rivers.
Dethroning BlackKklansman from the ‘favourites’ in the Oscar run, Peter Farrelly’s Green Book took home the biggest award on Sunday night, the Best Picture. A feel-good comedy drama, starring Viggo Mortensen and Academy award-winner Mahershala Ali, the film tells the inspiring story of pianist Don Shirley and his chauffeur Tony, and their extraordinary friendship - all of this against the backdrop of racism and segregation.
Oscars 2019 also spotlighted an India-set documentary, Period. End of Sentence, exploring the deep-rooted stigmas surrounding menstruation; a short that is every bit worth the hype.