Seven political moments from last night's Oscars

The Academy Awards are always filled with protest and awareness, and everyone got woke in 2017

Seven political moments from last night's Oscars

Ruth Negga wears an ACLU ribbon as she arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles [Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP]

Regardless of whether you think millionaires in Hollywood should use the Academy Awards as a platform to air their political views, we live in a time when a reality TV star is living in the White House, so it was always going to happen.

Presenters and winners alike took to the stage at the Dolby Theatre, using their moment in the spotlight to heap thanks on various financiers while whaling on the policies of President Donald Trump. Here are the seven biggest political statements made at last night’s ceremony...

Seeing red while wearing blue

Many of the celebrities walking the red carpet on Sunday night were sporting blue ribbons, designed to raise awareness for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The organisation, which finances legal battles in civil-rights cases, has been a vocal critic of the new president since his first executive order, and Irish ‘Best Actress’ nominee Ruth Negga was one of the stars to sport the ribbon.

Negga explained to the press that she supported the ACLU’s battle, how the organisation has a “basic love of human rights.” Nominated for Loving, a true story about an interracial couple who ACLU-led battle saw the end of miscegenation laws in the US, Negga’s decision to wear the symbol also tied in neatly with the character she played, Mildred Loving.

It wasn’t just the ACLU supported at the awards bash, with Emma Stone (who would beat Negga to the ‘Best Actress’ gong) and Dakota Johnson also festooning their frocks with Planned Parenthood pins.

Dress to impress and profess

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay, a nominee in the ‘Best Documentary Feature’ category for her Netflix-produced 13th, made a very subtle statement against the Trump administration’s immigration ban on citizens of a number of Muslim-majority countries.

The director, currently filming A Wrinkle in Time in New Zealand, wore a grey gown designed by Beirut-based fashion house Ashi Studio, with DuVernay choosing it because it was made in the Muslim-majority country Lebanon.

Defining the “truth”

The New York Times used the ABC television broadcast to showcase a new 30-second TV advert, taking aim at the constant rhetoric about “fake news” coming from Washington. The spot, a mixture of voices and text on a white background, argues that “The truth is more important now than ever.”

The host with the most to say

It’s Oscars tradition for the show to opening with a politically-charged monologue, and first-time host Jimmy Kimmel didn’t hold back. Addressing the crowd, Kimmel brought up Meryl Streep’s much-shared Golden Globes speech upon receiving her ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’, in which the veteran actress criticised then President-elect Donald Trump for mocking a disabled journalist while on the campaign trail.

The speech prompted Trump to tweet in response that Steep is “one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood,” a theme Kimmel ran with by getting everyone to give the three-time Oscar-winner a standing ovation. He even quipped about who Streep was wearing by asking if her dress was “an Ivanka,” a nod to Donald Trump’s daughter and her infamous fashion line.

If that wasn’t enough, Kimmel also tried (seemingly in vain) to capture the attention of Donald Trump through Twitter, knowing that the POTUS was in town to attend the Governor’s Ball after the ceremony.

“Art has no borders”

Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs has been widely credited with helping to reshape the makeup of the body after the recent #OscarsSoWhite controversy. After speaking out against the lack of racial diversity in the nominees last year, Boone Isaacs chose her 2017 presidential address to argue about the importance of art in breaking down borders.

Boycotting the ceremony

In the ‘Best Foreign Film’ prize, previous winner Asghar Farhadi was considered an outlier until the Trump executive order outright banned him from entering the US. While still allowed to attend for his film The Salesman, Farhadi decided to boycott, releasing a joint statement with all of the other nominees in his category about President Trump’s stalled immigration ban.

Farhadi asked to Iranian-Americans to represent him on the night, with engineer and astronaut Anousheh Ansari talking to the stage to read out his acceptance statement.

“Dividing the world into the us and our enemies categories creates fear,” Ansari read. “A deceitful justification for aggression and war. These wars prevent democracy and human rights in countries which have themselves been victims of aggression.”

A no-show winner speaks volumes

The Syrian cinematographer of The White Helmets, the Netflix-produced documentary short, was unable to attend the ceremony after being denied entry to the US by immigration authorities.

Khaleed Khateeb, responsible for capturing most of the footage of the volunteers who work at great personal peril to rescue victims of the country’s civil war, was prevented from connecting on to LA in Istanbul on Saturday.

Director Orlando von Einsiedel and producer Joanna Natasegara read out a statement written by Khateeb after accepting the prize on the night.

“We’re so grateful that this film has highlighted our work to the world,” he wrote. “I invite anyone here who hears me to work on the side of life, to stop the bloodshed in Syria and around the world.”

The audience got to their feet to immediately give the absent winner a standing ovation.

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