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Are Last Night’s Oscars a Sign of a Culture Change in Hollywood?

Tama Hamilton-Wray

Last night, Jordan Peele made history when he became the first black person to win an Oscar for an original screenplay. Peele won Best Original Screenplay for his sociological thriller “Get Out,” an allegory for being black among white people in America.

It’s an important victory to note as Hollywood attempts to make strides with diversity and inclusion. 

But Peele was the only African American nominee in a major category to win an award. Kobe Bryant also won for producing a short animated film about basketball — and that was it.

That’s not to say there wasn’t diversity among the winners. Guillermo Del Toro, a native of Mexico, won for his film “The Shape of Water.”

There were also several references to a need for women in Hollywood to be treated better and equally with their male counterparts. But more than anything, last night seemed to shine a light on an industry in transition, perhaps to a more diverse future. But Hollywood is also a fickle place that enjoys talking about change more than enacting it.

Tama Hamilton-Wray, a film professor at Michigan State University and an independent filmmaker, joins Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson to talk about the potential culture change in Hollywood. She says last night’s Oscars featured a strong female presence. 

I think it was definitely a women’s night,” she says. ”I think the closing award with Frances McDormand making her call for people to include inclusion riders (in their film contracts), something people had never heard of… she had the power to use (her) privilege (to make change).”

While the victory of Jordan Peele and the prominence of women in the ceremony shows promise, Hamilton-Wray says it’s important for people to continue to push for diversity to ensure further progress.

It’s been in small, small fits, a movement forward and we tend to stand still until things are pushed,” she says. ”We need to keep pushing ourselves, which we’ve done, as people of color and women, and those in position need to listen, or at least be nudged to listen, to bring more people to the table.”

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.


Here’s a list of all Oscar nominees with winners in bold:

Best Picture:
Call Me by Your Name
Darkest Hour
Get Out
Lady Bird
Phantom Thread
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri


Best Director:
Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
Jordan Peele, Get Out
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread
Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water


Best Actress:
Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
Meryl Streep, The Post


Best Actor:
Timotheé Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name
Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread 
Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.


Best Supporting Actress: 
Mary J. Blige, Mudbound 
Alison Janney, I, Tonya 
Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread 
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird 
Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water


Best Supporting Actor: 
Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project 
Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri 
Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water 
Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World 
Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri


Best Original Screenplay:
The Big Sick
Get Out
Lady Bird
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri


Best Adapted Screenplay:
Call Me by Your Name
The Disaster Artist
Molly’s Game


Best Animated Feature Film:
The Boss Baby
The Breadwinner
Loving Vincent


Best Production Design:
Beauty and the Beast
Blade Runner 2049
Darkest Hour
The Shape of Water


Best Original Song:
“Mighty River,” Mudbound
“Mystery of Love,” Call Me by Your Name
“Remember Me,” Coco
“Stand up for Something,” Marshall
“This Is Me,” The Greatest Showman


Best Cinematography:
Blade Runner 2049
Darkest Hour
The Shape of Water


Best Costume Design:
Beauty and the Beast
Darkest Hour
Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water
Victoria and Abdul


Best Sound Editing:
Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi


Best Sound Mixing:
Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi


Best Animated Short Film:
Dear Basketball
Garden Party
Negative Space
Revolting Rhymes


Live Action Short Film:
Dekalb Elementary
Eleven O’Clock
My Nephew Emmett
The Silent Child
Watu Wate/All of Us


Best Original Score:
Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri


Best Visual Effects:
Blade Runner 2049
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2
Kong: Skull Island
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
War for the Planet of the Apes


Best Film Editing:
Baby Driver
I, Tonya
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri


Best Makeup and Hairstyling:
Darkest Hour 
Victoria and Abdul


Best Foreign Language Film:
A Fantastic Woman
The Insult
On Body and Soul
The Square


Best Documentary, Short Subject: 
Edith and Eddie
Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405
Knife Skills
Traffic Stop


Best Documentary Feature:
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
Faces Places
Last Men in Aleppo
Strong Island

Image credit: Federal Transit Administration

About the Author

Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.  

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