Pop Culture Intervention

Jordan Peele And 5 Other History-Making Wins From The 2018 Oscars

"This is a door, kick it open and come in."

There was much to celebrate at the 2018 Oscars last night, including some history-making wins. After 90 years of the Academy Awards you'd think we'd have broken through all barriers — but that's not the case.


Sure, host Jimmy Kimmel had a solid opening monologue, there were great performances (like an activist-filled number from Common and Andra Day), and a girl power-heavy acceptance speech from Frances McDormand, but there were other highlights that deserve our attention. Even with echoes of Time's Up in the air, women didn't see that many wins. In fact, most of these historic wins we'll discuss were by men. 

That said, these moments were certainly achievements in diversity and should be applauded. Let's take a look at the people and movies that made it into the history books.

“A Fantastic Woman”

In the Best Foreign Language Film category, Chile's A Fantastic Woman became the first Academy Award-winning movie to feature a transgender storyline with a transgender lead (star Daniela Vega, who is also the first transgender presenter in Oscar history). 

Sebastián Lelio, the film's director, said backstage after the win that that the film "has managed to contribute to a necessary and urgent conversation." Lelio went on to express hope that Latinx representation in Hollywood will continue improving and to explain that Vega brought a "layer of complexity and beauty" to the role, something he believes came about by having authentically cast a transgender woman to play the role of a transgender woman.

This was a night when a transgender woman was onstage not once but twice, and that's some LGBTQ history right there.

James Ivory

At the age of 89, James Ivory is nearly as old as the Academy itself. Ivory made history by becoming the oldest Oscar winner ever by taking home the statue for Best Adapted Screenplay, having adapted Call Me By Your Name from André Aciman's novel to the Luca Guadagnino-directed film.

Ivory is no stranger to the Academy Awards, having been thrice nominated for Best Director thanks to 1985's A Room with a View, 1992's Howards End, and 1993's The Remains of the Day. He shouted out creative partners producer Ismail Merchant (with whom he founded production company Merchant Ivory) as well as Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (who wrote many of the Merchant Ivory screenplays).

After winning, Ivory called the feeling "like a hiccup in nature" but one that "feels great" backstage. The openly gay screenwriter acknowledged the universality of Call Me By Your Name's LGBTQ romantic storyline — centering on actors Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer — as well as called the experience of writing about first love "a rejuvenating experience somehow."

Robert Lopez

You may not have noticed, but when Robert Lopez won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for Coco's "Remember Me" — alongside wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez, no less — he achieved a double EGOT. That's right, he is the first (and, thus far) only person to have garnered at least two Emmys, Grammys, Oscars, and Tonys. There are 17 people who have achieved EGOT status (if you include competitive wins and honorary wins), but Lopez is playing in a whole other league.

Jordan Peele

There were many ways Jordan Peele could have made history last night, but the one that stuck was in the Best Original Screenplay category for penning Get Out. The former Key & Peele star became the first Black screenwriter to win this award.

"It's a Renaissance," Peele said backstage after winning, giving props to all the Black filmmakers of the past and those of the present, going on to acknowledge how momentous this occasion is in history. "This is about paying it forward to the young people who might not believe that they could achieve the highest honor in whatever craft they want to push toward. You're not a failure if you don't get this, but I almost didn't do it because I didn't believe that there was a place for me."

Another important distinction Peele had was Get Out being nominated for Best Picture (he produced), Best Director (he is the fifth Black director ever nominated, with none winning this far), and one of the screenplay categories for a debut work. He is just the third person — and first Black person — to have achieved this.

“The Shape of Water”

The Oscars don't tend to honor genre film that often — read: basically never — so with The Shape of Water taking home the Academy Award for Best Picture, it's huge. This imaginative flick is the first science fiction movie to have won and just the second fantasy movie to have won (with The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King being the only other, winning the top prize in 2003).

"And I want to tell you, everyone that is dreaming of ... using genre or fantasy to tell stories about the things that are real in the world today, you can do it," filmmaker Guillermo del Toro said onstage. "This is a door, kick it open and come in."

Besides this Best Picture news, del Toro also becomes the third Mexican director to have won Best Director in recent history — completing the trifecta for "The Three Amigos." For four of the past five years, the trophy has gone to a Mexican filmmaker. Alfonso Cuarón won for Gravity in 2013, Alejandro G. Iñárritu had back-to-back wins in 2014 and 2015 for Birdman and The Revenant, and now del Toro has won for The Shape of Water.

Kazuhiro Tsuji

Having come out of retirement to work on The Darkest Hour, Kazuhiro Tsuji was rewarded for doing so and brilliantly transforming Gary Oldman into Winston Churchill (a role snagged Best Actor, too). Tsuji — along with David Malinowski and Lucy Sibbick — took home the Oscar for Best Makeup and Hairstyling, becoming the first Asian artist to win in this specific Academy Awards category. While this is a major win for diversity, it seems Tsuji doesn't necessarily want to focus on it.

"I don't want to think about I'm Asian," the Japanese visual artist, who has been nominated three times in this category, said backstage. "I'm just doing what I love to do."

(H/T: EW, L.A. Times

Cover image courtesy Rick Rowell / ABC


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