96th Academy Awards unfold against backdrop of politics and prestige

The glitz and glamour of the Oscars collided with political turmoil and social consciousness as the 96th Academy Awards unfolded on Sunday night, according to pbs.org. Outside the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, the outlet reports, protesters demanding attention for the conflict in Gaza disrupted the flow of traffic, amplifying the spotlight on global unrest.

Amidst the tumult, Jonathan Glazer’s haunting portrayal of Auschwitz in The Zone of Interest clinched the award for Best International Film. In a poignant acceptance speech, Glazer drew parallels between the dehumanisation depicted in his film and contemporary conflicts, urging resistance against oppression.

The war in Gaza and the ongoing crisis in Ukraine weighed heavily on the minds of attendees, reflecting the sombre realities beyond the glitzy confines of the Oscars. Mstyslav Chernov’s documentary, 20 Days in Mariupol, captured the harrowing early days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, earning the accolade for Best Documentary. Chernov, a Ukrainian filmmaker, lamented the necessity of his film amidst the devastation caused by conflict.

While Oppenheimer was anticipated to dominate the evening, it was Yorgos Lanthimos’ Poor Things that emerged triumphant, securing three awards for its impeccable craftsmanship. The spotlight also shone on Robert Downey Jr., who secured his first Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, marking a pinnacle in his illustrious career.

As Jimmy Kimmel steered the evening’s proceedings, he navigated through Hollywood’s turbulent landscape, emphasising unity and solidarity amidst labour negotiations and industry upheavals. Despite the challenges, the Oscars remained a beacon of tradition and celebration, honouring cinematic achievements while acknowledging the pressing issues of our time.

The first award of the night went predictably to Da’Vine Joy Randolph for Best Supporting Actress in Alexander Payne’s The Holdovers. Joined onstage by co-star Paul Giamatti, Randolph expressed gratitude for embracing her true self.

However, an upset followed swiftly as Hayao Miyazaki’s The Boy and the Heron snagged Best Animated Feature over the favoured Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. Miyazaki, absent from the ceremony, had previously skipped the 2003 Oscars despite winning for Spirited Away.

In the screenplay categories, Justine Triet and Arthur Harari took home best original screenplay for Anatomy of a Fall, while Cord Jefferson won adapted screenplay for American Fiction, urging executives to support young filmmakers.

With Oppenheimer expected to dominate, the spotlight shifted to the best actress category, with Emma Stone and Lily Gladstone in close contention. Despite the success of Barbie at the box office, it seems likely to play second fiddle to Nolan’s film at the Oscars.


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