By KATIE WALSH
Tribune News Service
There were no surprises about the winners – the frontrunners, Gary Oldman and Frances McDormand, who won every other industry prize for their performances this awards season and were largely favored to win the Academy Awards – took their places behind the podium, and had drastically different moments.
McDormand won her second best actress Oscar for her role as the angry, grieving mother Mildred Hayes in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” in a role that captured the rage and anger of sexual assault victims and their allies. In a ceremony that was largely predictable and lacking surprises, McDormand had the moment of the night when she took the stage to accept the award.
“I’m hyperventilating a little bit – if I fall over pick me up, because I’ve got some things to say,” she said in her acceptance speech. “I think this is what (Olympic gold medalist snowboarder) Chloe Kim must have felt like after doing back to back 1080s in the halfpipe.” She then asked all the female nominees in every category to stand with her, saying, “Meryl, if you do it, everyone will.”
She then urged everyone in the room: “Look around everybody, we all have stories we need to tell and movies we need to get made.”
She ended her speech with two words: “inclusion rider,” referring to a contractual agreement available to anyone who negotiates contracts in which one can require that 50 percent diversity or inclusion for the cast and crew of a film.
Backstage, McDormand said she just learned about the inclusion rider last week and declared that diversity and inclusion for women and people of color was no trend. “The message that we’re getting to send to the public is that we’re going to be one of the small industries to make a difference,” she said. “We started a conversation that’s going to change something.
Oldman won his first Oscar for his transformed performance as Winston Churchill in Joe Wright’s biopic “Darkest Hour” (the film also won the Oscar for best hair and makeup). He said “I have lived in America for the longest time, and I am deeply grateful to her for the loves and the friendships I have made and the many wonderful gifts it has given me: my home, my livelihood, my family and now Oscar. The movies, such is their power, captivated a young man from South London and gave him a dream.” He also thanked his 99-year-old mother and promised to bring Oscar home.
Oldman has faced criticism this Oscar season, which has been rife with discussion about abuse and sexual assault during the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements. Oldman was accused of domestic abuse in 2001 by his ex-wife Donya Fiorentino (Oldman denies the allegations and won full custody of their children). He also came under fire for a 2014 Playboy interview in which he defended offensive statements made by Mel Gibson and Alec Baldwin and referred to Nancy Pelosi by a sexist slur. He largely managed to escape the blowback, scooping up every major acting prize for his performance this awards season.
Backstage, Oldman spoke to the press, saying that winning for this role of Churchill “has a special significance. Winning an Oscar for playing arguably one of the greatest Britons who ever lived makes it doubly special.”
When asked about what Churchill might say to today’s leaders, Oldman said, “He would give them a good talking to, wouldn’t he? He was a big believer that you look at history to move forward. We don’t teach history anymore, do we?”