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Photo by Denise Jans on Unsplash

This year’s Oscars honored individuals and films from around the world but still lacked diversity in some important categories, pointing to more progress that needs to be made.

 

“Parasite” was the biggest winner of this year’s ceremony, taking home four awards, including best picture. This South Korean film about greed and class conflict made history by becoming the first foreign language film to ever win this award.

 

The film also took home awards for achievement in directing, best international film and original screenplay. While accepting the award for original screenplay, director and screenplay writer Bong Joon Ho recognized how much the film’s success has impacted not only those directly involved in creating it, but also the entire country of South Korea.

 

“Writing a script is always such a lonely process,” Bong said during the televised event. “We never write to represent our countries, but this is very personal to South Korea.” 

 

The film’s four Oscar wins show the ability of foreign films to succeed within the U.S. It also shows how prestigious film academies, and all moviegoers in general, have become more accepting of a wider variety of films in recent years, and this is a trend that should continue.  

 

While “Parasite” was the most notable winner of the night, several other individuals and films were honored that show the academy’s increasing acceptance of diversity. Taika Waititi won the award for adapted screenplay for his work on “Jojo Rabbit.” Waititi is a descendant of the indigenous people of New Zealand, making him the first indigenous person to ever win an Oscar in that category.

 

When accepting the award, Waititi acknowledged his heritage and dedicated the Oscar to indigenous children around the world.

 

“I dedicate this to all the indigenous kids in the world who want to do art and dance and write stories,” Waititi said. “We are the original storytellers and we can make it here as well.”

 

Another notable winner at this year’s ceremony was “Hair Love,” which was named best animated short film. The short, created by Matthew Cherry and Karen Rupert Toliver, tells the heartwarming and comical story of a father who is trying to do his daughter’s hair for the first time.

 

In his acceptance speech, Cherry spoke about the need for more representation in cartoons and acknowledged DeAndre Arnold, who was told he would have to cut his dreadlocks in order to walk at his high school graduation.

 

“I just want to say that ‘Hair Love’ was done because we wanted to see more representation in animation. We wanted to normalize black hair,” Cherry said. “There’s a very important issue that’s out there, it’s the Crown Act, and if we can help to get this passed in all 50 states it will help stories like DeAndre Arnold’s … stop to happen.”

 

Despite the diversity represented by these winners, this year’s nominations were still heavily criticized. Cynthia Erivo, nominated for her role in “Harriet,” was the only black actor to receive a nomination. The Oscars were also criticized for the lack of female directors in the achievement in directing category. 

 

The lack of representation in these areas points to progress that still needs to be made to honor the achievements of people from all backgrounds. As viewers, we can promote this progress by watching and supporting a wider variety of films.

 

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