89th Oscars Make Movie History — Chaz Ebert comments (Exclusive)

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chaz ebertThe Oscars continue to be on my “must see” list and this year’s 89th edition was not only immensely enjoyable, but historic for many reasons. It was the first time in history that an African-American director won for Best Picture; it was the first win for Supporting Actor for a Muslim; it was the first win for a picture about someone in the LGBTQ community, and the first Best Foreign Film win for someone who was not there in protest of a travel ban instituted by the President of the United States. Sometimes it is difficult to remember from year to year who won Best Picture, but the “Moonlight” – “La La Land” flub will forever be in our collective memories.

Barry Jenkins achieved a virtuoso sublime balance in his nuanced coming-of-age tale and his film deserved it’s win. The audience was clearly thrilled for him, as many of us were watching it on the screen. And yet we were fully prepared to accept that Damien Chazelle’s musical delight might take that honor. Who could have written it better that two of our most revered stars, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, would play a role in the action. It was good for the world to see the graciousness of producer Jordan Horowitz in turning over the Best Picture Oscar to it’s rightful owner, and the graciousness of Barry Jenkins in accepting it. This comes at a time when the image of America around the world is taking a hit because of the antics of our leader. So I hope that he was watching and that he tries to adopt some of that spirit of graciousness and collaboration for the good of America, and for the good of the world. Now, more than ever, it is so important for us to do the right thing.

And speaking of doing the right thing, after a couple years of #OscarsSoWhite, it was beautiful to see African-Americans and people of color in so many major categories of the Oscar nominations. Our viewing of the films can attest to the fact that they were there on merit. Although the voices raised in protest helped to raise awareness of this sad disparity in the representation of people of color throughout the filmmaking and financing community. We must continue the progress started in these areas. Bravo! And Bravo to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences for giving us this beautiful show.

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