The Washington Post

Big and small victories for women at the Oscars

The film industry has notoriously favored male storytellers and male-centric narratives. But the 86th Academy Awards ceremony Sunday night gave women a lot to be hopeful for. While there were some great moments for female-focused projects like “Frozen” and “Gravity,” several smaller moments caught my eye.

 

Shannon Leto, Constance Leto, and actor Jared Leto. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images) Shannon Leto, Constance Leto, and actor Jared Leto. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images)

When he won best supporting actor for his role as Rayon in “Dallas Buyers Club,” Jared Leto began his speech with a story about a high school drop out and single mother who instilled in her children the values that enabled them to succeed.

“…Somehow she managed to make a better life for herself and her children,” he said. “She encouraged her kids to be creative, to work hard and to do something special. That girl is my mother and she’s here tonight.

Leto gets brownie points for that beautiful recognition, but his most Oscar-worthy moment might’ve been when he hustled host Ellen DeGeneres  for a slice of pizza for his mother.

Later in the program, Lupita Nyong’o, in her acceptance speech for winning best supporting actress, deferred to the real-life woman that she portrayed, Patsey, a slave who was repeatedly beaten and sexually abused by a plantation owner.

“It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else’s,” she said. ” …I want to salute the spirit of Patsey for her guidance.”

For all the talk about the importance of a film like “12 Years A Slave,” conversations mean little if they don’t continually address the horrors endured by the real-life heroine of Solomon Northup’s memoir. Nyong’o said it beautifully, without condescension and offered inspiration to actresses like herself who don’t fit the typical Hollywood mold.

“When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every little child that no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.”

Lastly, while Cate Blanchett is probably somewhere contemplating her relationship with Woody Allen, her appeal to sexist industry executives deserves full marks.

“…To those within the industry who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films with women at the center are niche experiences, they are not. Audiences want to see them and in fact, they earn money.”

“The world is round, people!” she cheered.

Indeed, Cate. Indeed.

Video: The Oscars in 2 minutes

Ruth Tam is a writer based in Washington, D.C., where she web produces for The Kojo Nnamdi Show.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Comments
Show Comments
The New Hampshire primary is Tuesday. Get caught up on the race.
New Hampshire primary: What to expect
New Hampshire will hold a traditional primary just eight days after the Iowa caucuses. Polling in the Granite state has historically been volatile in the final weeks before the primary. After the Iowa caucuses, many New Hampshire voters cement their opinions.
The Post's Ed O'Keefe says ...
Something has clicked for Bush in New Hampshire in the past few days. What has transpired by no means guarantees him a top-tier finish in Tuesday’s Republican primary here, but the crowds turning out to see him are bigger, his delivery on the stump is crisper and some of his key rivals have stumbled. At the least, the developments have mostly silenced talk of a hasty exit and skittish donors.
The feminist appeal may not be working for Clinton
In New Hampshire, Sen. Bernie Sanders is beating Clinton among women by eight percentage points, according to a new CNN-WMUR survey. This represents a big shift from the results last week in the Iowa caucuses, where Clinton won women by 11 points.
New Hampshire polling averages
Donald Trump holds a commanding lead in the next state to vote, but Marco Rubio has recently seen a jump in his support, according to polls.
New Hampshire polling averages
A victory in New Hampshire revitalized Hillary Clinton's demoralized campaign in 2008. But this time, she's trailing Bernie Sanders, from neighboring Vermont. She left the state Sunday to go to Flint, Mich., where a cost-saving decision led to poisonous levels of lead in the water of the poor, heavily black, rust-belt city. 
55% 40%
Upcoming debates
Feb. 11: Democratic debate

on PBS, in Wisconsin

Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

Campaign 2016
State of the race

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.