Frances McDormand gave the most memorable speech at the 90th Academy Awards that took place this past Sunday, March 4. When accepting her Oscar for Best Actress in the film “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” McDormand used her speech as an opportunity to talk about women, minorities and their roles in Hollywood. She began her speech by saying, “If I fall over, pick me up, ’cause I’ve got some things to say.” And, boy, did she have some “things to say.”
After thanking her friends and family, McDormand put her Oscar on the floor and got down to business. She called for all the female nominees of the night to stand up. She even jokingly said, “Meryl, if you do it, everybody else will.” Dozens of women stood up throughout the auditorium as she proceeded to tell everyone to look around the room at these women. She explained that they all had stories that needed to be told and funded. She urged the potential investors not to discuss these projects with them in passing at the after-party, but to invite them to their office in the following days to hear their ideas.
She concluded her speech with two words: “inclusion rider.” An inclusion rider is a stipulation that can be added to the contracts of actors and actresses. This concept is a short addition to a contract that requires all cast and crew members in a film to be diverse. Bigger names in Hollywood can use this as a bargaining chip when signing contracts to make the movie industry more representative of every demographic from women to African-Americans to LGBTQ community members.
Overall, McDormand used her moment to promote something that impacts us all. The media we consume influence us whether we realize it or not. I believe that watching films about people who look like us or identify in a similar way help us feel more represented, while giving us something to relate to. In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations and the #MeToo movement in Hollywood earlier this year, I think that McDormand is showing that women and minorities have stories that need to be heard and seen, and that Hollywood and society as a whole need to do something about it.
Notable winners at the Oscars included Guillermo del Toro for Best Director and Best Picture for “The Shape of Water,” and Jordan Peele for Best Original Screenplay for “Get Out.” Peele’s win is historic because he was the first African-American to win Best Original Screenplay. Furthermore, Peele is the only African-American director in 90 years to receive an Oscar nomination for directing. When he accepted his award, Peele stated, “This means so much to me. I stopped writing this movie 20 times because I thought...no one would ever make this movie.”
As for Del Toro, who had the most Oscar nominations of the night, his wins were historic, too. Del Toro was the fourth Mexican director to win Best Director in the last five years--the others include Alfonso Cuarón for “Gravity,” and Alejandro Iñárritu for “Birdman” and “The Revenant.” In his acceptance speech, Del Toro said, “I am an immigrant...The greatest thing our industry does is to erase the lines in the sand...when the world tells us to make them deeper.”