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Oscars not so white? Academy Awards winners see big shift

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A black superhero action flick. A film about an indigenous maid in Mexico. A portrayal of a gay, immigrant rock star. Spike Lee’s first Oscar.

The 2019 Oscars were a win for films telling stories from a range of racial and cultural perspectives, marking a major shift three years after the movie industry’s top awards show was slammed for overlooking work by nonwhite artists.

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“Green Book,” a film about racial injustice in the segregated U.S. South in the 1960s, took best picture, the night’s top prize. In his acceptance speech, director Peter Farrelly said the film, about a black pianist and his white driver, was “about loving each other despite our differences.”

“Green Book” won three awards, as did “Roma,” a black-and-white, Spanish-language film about an indigenous housemaid, and “Black Panther,” a Marvel superhero movie with an almost entirely black cast. Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman,” about a black detective who goes undercover with the Ku Klux Klan, also was honored.

“It’s a real breakthrough that any film about race gets to win,” Kevin Willmott, who is African-American and was one of the “BlacKkKlansman” writers who won an Oscar for the screenplay, said backstage.

“When I first started in the industry, it was really bad. And we’ve come a long way since then.”

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Mahershala Ali, one of the stars of “Green Book,” was one of two black actors to claim acting prizes, taking home the best supporting actor trophy. Regina King, who played a protective mother in “If Beale Street Could Talk,” claimed the supporting actress award.

Rami Malek, whose parents immigrated from Egypt to the United States, took home the best actor prize for his turn as Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody.” He noted backstage that as a child he felt skeptical about his prospects in Hollywood because of his cultural background.

“I never saw anyone in a lead role that looked like me,” he said.

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Spike Lee, the acclaimed black director, took home his first Oscar on Sunday, a best adapted screenplay prize for “BlacKkKlansman,” after a career that has spanned decades and included a famous Oscar loss in 1989 for his film “Do The Right Thing.”

Backstage, Lee sipped champagne and said he would not have won an Oscar on Sunday had it not been for the #OscarSoWhite campaign that erupted in 2015 and 2016, and for Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the former Academy president who oversaw efforts to diversify its membership.

“They opened up the Academy to make the Academy look more like America,” Lee said, noting wins on Sunday by black women including Ruth E. Carter and Hannah Beachler, the costume designer and production designer, respectively, for “Black Panther.”

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Mexico’s Alfonso Cuaron, who won the directing, cinematography and foreign film prizes for his film “Roma,” thanked the Academy in his speech for recognizing a film with a lead character “that has historically been relegated to the background of cinema.”

Backstage, however, he noted that Hispanic Americans are “really badly represented still” in film roles.

Also backstage, King noted the broad support she received for her performance, but said of Hollywood that “we’re still trying to get more reflective. Still trying to get there.”

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Reporting by Nichola Groom; editing by Jonathan Oatis


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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Stephen Colbert rips ‘idiot’ GOP senator for defending Trump’s unconstitutional self-dealing

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"Late Show" host Stephen Colbert returned from New Zealand for a new show that aired Monday evening.

"I have been as far from the insatiable black hole of news that is Donald Trump as you can get on this planet.

I've heard there have been some developments over the last 10 days that did not go well for Donnie,"

The host ripped Trump's 71-minute press conference.

"Seventy-one minutes is not a press conference, it's a one man show," he explained. "If you liked 'Fleabag,' you'll love Donald Trump in 'Douchebag,'" he said.

[caption id="attachment_1555275" align="aligncenter" width="800"] ‘The Late Show’ graphic (screengrab)[/caption]

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Donald Trump is making a mockery of Marco Rubio — and the Florida senator is letting him

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Sen. Marco Rubio was once one of Donald Trump’s most formidable opponents; now, the Florida senator bends over backward to excuse the president’s corruption.

In 2016, Rubio and Trump sparred frequently on the Republican primary debate stage. Trump picked the uninspired nickname “Little Marco” for the senator, which didn’t seem to do much damage on its own, but Rubio never gained the momentum or strength that his backers hoped would prove to be strong enough to take down the reality TV candidate. As Rubio grew desperate, he launched one of his most memorable and pitiful attacks by stooping to his opponent’s level, implying that Trump had a small penis. It was more of an embarrassing moment for Rubio than anyone else, though Trump helped himself with a crude rejoinder.

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The faith of Fox News: How the network’s propaganda warps viewers’ sense of reality

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A longtime sticking point among Fox News employees is their insistent differentiation between its news division, where employees practice actual journalism, and its opinion division, where employees practice actual nativism, spew misinformation, and have been actively campaigning for Donald Trump’s re-election since 2016.  Inside the organization, they claim to believe that the news side is separate from the opinion side, and insist that the audience can tell the difference.

News anchor Shepard Smith once characterized comparing the two as “apples and teaspoons.”

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