The Oscars had a big job to do at the 2018 awards ceremony. It was plagued for two years by the #OscarsSoWhite campaign, pointing out how all of the actors and actresses nominated were white, plus an awards season rocked by sexual harassment allegations and the #MeToo and #NoMore movements. To top it all off, every year American politics takes the stage, and this year was particularly lively. Despite this, the Academy Awards managed to take an international tone that highlighted different cultures and creators from across the globe.
One of the biggest winners of the night was The Shape Of Water, taking home four different awards. Director Guillermo Del Toro had won the Best Foreign Language Film award for his film Pan’s Labyrinth in 2006, and he got to go up twice for The Shape of Water, once for Directing and once for Best Picture. When receiving his award, Del Toro highlighted his immigrant experience and spoke to how films “erase the lines in the sand.”
The Best Foreign Language award kicked off the night, with it going to A Fantastic Woman, a Chilean movie about a transgender woman dealing with the death of her boyfriend. In the animated category, The Breadwinner, produced by Angelina Jolie and set in Afghanistan, and Loving Vincent, an oil-painted French film, were stiff competition for Pixar’s Coco, who took the award for the story of a Mexican boy in the land of the dead. There were several notable nominees as well. Kumail Nanjiani was the first Asian ever nominated for Best Original Screenplay, and Negative Space was a French film nominated for Best Animated Short. Watu Wote, from Kenya, was nominated for Best Short Film.
The acting categories still seemed to be primarily American and white, especially the winners. Every actor nominated for an acting award were either American or British, with the only exception being Canadian actor Christopher Plummer. While it is fair to say that this is an American film award ceremony, this is a reflection of the fact that very few actors of color get nominated or win an Oscar, which is partly due to a lack of international actors in American movies. In stark contrast to this, Guillermo Del Toro’s directing win makes him the 3rd Hispanic director to win in five years.
In comparison, European film awards don’t confine American films to the foreign category, and even have them win in major categories. France’s Cesar awards had Russian film Loveless take home Best Foreign Language film, but also had the American film I Am Not Your Negro win Best Documentary. The British BAFTA’s blurred that line even more, American films won several categories, including Best Film, Best Director, Lead Actress, Music, and Editing. In non-English speaking countries, obviously, American films take very few awards. The Jio Filmfare Awards in India only focus on Bollywood films, and the Asian Film Awards focuses on movies from Asian countries.