Diversity was undoubtedly the theme of this year’s Academy Awards, despite – or, more likely, due to – the dearth of nominees of colour. Journalism drama Spotlight was named Best Picture, while The Revenant won three Oscars including a Best Actor gong for Leonardo DiCaprio. But last night’s ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles will be best remembered for its focus on race in Hollywood, and in particular for its host Chris Rock’s pointed opening monologue.
As the comedian joked, “If they nominated hosts, I wouldn’t even get this job!” A series of skits on the same topic included one in which black performers were inserted into scenes from several Oscar-nominated movies starring white actors, such as The Martian and Joy. On a serious note, Rock added: “We want black actors to get the same opportunities as white actors. Leo gets a great part every year... but what about the black actors?”
With the Academy of Motion Pictures under uncommon scrutiny and facing unprecedented criticism, the organisation’s president Cheryl Boone Isaacs also addressed the issue, telling the audience: “Everybody in the Hollywood community has a role to play in bringing about the vital changes the industry needs so that we can accurately reflect the world today.”