Women Ruled the Oscars

Kim Taylor-Foster
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This year’s awards ceremonies have been very prominently recognising women’s movements #MeToo and Time’s Up. At both the Golden Globes and Baftas, attendees were outspoken in their support, and women wore black in protest against harassment in the film industry. While the all-black rule wasn’t followed at the Oscars, women — and this issue — were still front and centre. And if there’s one image that summed up the feeling on the night, it was that group hug between nominees Meryl Streep, Margot Robbie, Saoirse Ronan and Sally Hawkins. Here are all the times women slayed the Oscars 2018.

Frances McDormand Getting Women On Their Feet

Frances McDormand was a shoo-in for Best Actress. She’d already picked up the Bafta and Golden Globe in the same category, and despite stiff competition, no one doubted that this was her year. Add to that the fact that the subject matter of the film for which she won, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, is powerful and timely and she was a dead cert to take the gong. The film, incidentally, tells of the frustrations of a woman trying to get her story heard, and attempting to get justice for her daughter who was raped and murdered.

But it was what McDormand used her platform for that got people really fired up. Taking the attention away from herself, she requested that all the women nominees in the audience — the actors, the filmmakers, the producers, the directors, the writers, the cinematographers, the composers, the songwriters, the designers — stand up.

And then she said this: “We all have stories to tell and projects we need financed. Don’t talk to us about it at the parties tonight.  Invite us into your office in a couple days — or you can come to ours, whichever suits you best — and we’ll tell you all about them. I have two words to leave you with tonight, ladies and gentlemen: ‘inclusion rider’.”

One word from us: YES.

Frances McDormand and the Inclusion Rider

Frances McDormand’s closing words had viewers scratching their heads — and not just those watching at home. So what is an inclusion rider? It’s a clause in a contract that demands equality. Simply put, if diversity isn’t addressed in the production, you can stipulate that you won’t take part. And if you’re a big name, that’s a huge bargaining chip. This, in theory, forces the studio to ensure a certain level of representation across race and gender throughout cast and crew during the making of a film.

“You can ask for or demand at least 50% diversity in not only the casting but the crew,” said McDormand backstage after her win. “The fact that I just learned that after 35 years in the film business — we aren’t going back.”

And now everyone knows what an inclusion rider is, there’s no excuse. The future of film is exciting.

Mira Sorvino and Ashley Judd — Together

Oscars 2018 Judd and Sorvino
Ashley Judd (left) and Mira Sorvino.

This acting duo turned up to the ceremony together, and the nature and purpose of their pairing wasn’t lost on the viewing public. Both women came forward detailing the sexual harassment they allegedly suffered at the hands of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

Judd addressed the current wave of women calling attention to their own experiences. “So much of that movement is externalizing that shame and putting it back where it belongs — with the perpetrator,” she said on the red carpet. Another example of strong women using the platform given to them at the Oscars to further a necessary cause.

Jane Fonda and Jennifer Lawrence Supplanting Casey Affleck

Another acting duo with some serious weight, Fonda and Lawrence presented the Best Actress award. The award is traditionally presented by the previous year’s Best Actor winner, but Casey Affleck bowed out after his own past with sexual harassment was brought up.

The switch was a sensitive and praiseworthy move by the Academy, which supported the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements.

Weinstein Accusers Take Centre Stage

From left to right: Ashley Judd, Annabella Sciorra and Salma Hayek.

Ashley Judd teamed up on stage with fellow actresses Annabella Sciorra and Salma Hayek to introduce a montage in celebration of diversity on screen, both in gender and race. All three women have spoken out about their own stories involving Harvey Weinstein.

Judd talked about the importance of representation, and of dedicating space to different stories, allowing people to hear “new voices, different voices, our voices”, before shouting “Time’s up!”

Emma Stone Throwing Shade

Following in the footsteps of Natalie Portman, who called out the all-male nominees in the Best Director category at the Golden Globes in January, Emma Stone also took a dig at the Academy.

As she read out the winner of the Best Director Oscar, she said: “It is the vision of the director that takes an ordinary movie and turns it into a work of art. These four men and Greta Gerwig created their own masterpieces this year.”

Stone’s slight drew laughs and applause from the audience, as well as bringing further attention to the fact that women are frequently overlooked in the Best Director category — among others — at the major awards ceremonies.

The First Signed Acceptance Speech in 31 Years

Diversity isn’t just about race and gender, it’s also about other minorities and marginalised groups. And one winner drew attention to this in her acceptance speech. Rachel Shenton, who scooped the award alongside fiance Chris Overton for Best Live Action Short Film, delivered her words using sign language.

The film, called The Silent Child — which she wrote — is about a young deaf girl learning to communicate, and stars 6-year-old Maisie Sly in the lead role. Rachel had promised Maisie, who was in the audience, that she would sign her acceptance speech if the film won — and she did. It was the first time since 1987, when Marlee Matlin won for her performance in Children of a Lesser God, that a winner has signed their acceptance speech.

Helen Mirren On a Jetski

Oscars helen mirren jetski
Helen Mirren sits side-saddle on a jetski.

In an effort to keep proceedings running on time, a prize was on offer to whoever delivered the shortest speech at the winner’s podium. And the prize? A jetski. But it was Helen Mirren who stole the moment, when Oscars host Jimmy Kimmel called upon her to demonstrate the bright green vehicle which they brought on stage to present. She duly obliged, hopping on with the man who claimed it, costume designer Mark Bridges.

Social media was also buzzing with chatter about Helen Mirren for another reason — her bold decision to down a shot of tequila before doing a red carpet interview. Yaass, Queen!

Kim Taylor-Foster
Kim Taylor-Foster is Entertainment Editor for Fandom in the UK. She was raised on an unsteady diet of video nasties and violent action flicks.