Operation to catch El Chapo's son shakes Mexico cartel stronghold

Intense gunfire rocked a cartel heartland in northwestern Mexico on Thursday after security forces launched an operation in which a son of jailed drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman was reportedly arrested.

Vehicles were set on fire and shooting shook several areas of Culiacan -- the state capital of the Guzmans' bastion, Sinaloa -- including the city's airport, an AFP reporter said.

A security source who did not want to be named told AFP that the violence had broken out after an operation to capture Ovidio Guzman, but did not confirm reports by Milenio TV and other media that he had been captured.

The drug lord's son has allegedly helped to run the notorious Sinaloa Cartel since his father was extradited to the United States in 2017.

His capture would be a high-profile win in the war on drugs as Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador prepares to welcome US President Joe Biden next week for a North America leaders' summit.

The Sinaloa state government urged people to stay at home on Thursday as the unrest sparked panic among residents seeking shelter.

Lopez Obrador told reporters that his government would announce the result of the operation later in the day.

"El Chapo" is serving a life prison sentence in the United States for trafficking hundreds of tons of drugs into the US over the course of 25 years.

However, his cartel remains one of the most powerful in Mexico.

Ovidio Guzman was captured briefly once before in 2019, but security forces freed him after his cartel waged an all-out war in response in the streets of Culiacan.

© 2023 AFP

Sepsis is one of the most expensive medical conditions in the world – new research clarifies how it can lead to cell death

Sepsis is a life-threatening condition arising from the body’s overreactive response against an infection, leading it to injure its own tissues and organs. The first known reference to “sepsis” dates back more than 2,700 years, when the Greek poet Homer used it as a derivative of the word “sepo,” meaning “I rot.”

Despite dramatic improvements in understanding the immunological mechanisms behind sepsis, it still remains a major medical concern, affecting 750,000 people in the U.S. and nearly 50 million people globally each year. Sepsis accounted for 11 million deaths worldwide in 2017, and is the most expensive medical condition in the U.S., costing over tens of billions of dollars annually.

We are researchers who study how certain types of bacteria interact with cells during infections. We wanted to understand exactly how an overreactive immune response can result in detrimental and even lethal effects like sepsis. In our newly published research, we discovered the cells and molecules that potentially trigger death from sepsis.

Sepsis results from a potentially lethal overreactive immune response to infection.

TNF in autoimmunity and sepsis

The body’s response to infection starts when immune cells recognize components of the invading pathogen. These cells then release molecules like cytokines that help eliminate the infection. Cytokines are a broad group of small proteins that recruit other immune cells to the site of infection or injury.

While cytokines play an essential role in the immune response, excessive and uncontrolled cytokine production can lead to a dangerous cytokine storm associated with sepsis. Cytokine storms were first seen in the context of graft versus host disease, arising from transplant complications. They can also occur during viral infections, including COVID-19. This uncontrolled immune response can lead to multi-organ failure and death.

Among the hundreds of cytokines that exist, tumor necrosis factor, or TNF, stands tall as the most potent and the most studied for nearly the past 50 years.

Tumor necrosis factor owes its name to its ability to induce tumor cells to die when the immune system is stimulated by a bacterial extract called Coley’s toxin, named after the researcher who identified it over a century ago. This toxin was later recognized to be lipopolysaccharide, or LPS, a component of the outer membrane of certain types of bacteria. LPS is the strongest known trigger of TNF, which, once on alert, aids in the recruitment of immune cells to the infection site to eliminate invading bacteria.

Severe COVID-19 infections can trigger cytokine storms.

In normal conditions, TNF promotes beneficial processes such as cell survival and tissue regeneration. However, TNF production must be tightly regulated to avoid sustained inflammation and continuous proliferation of immune cells. Uncontrolled TNF production can lead to the development of rheumatoid arthritis and similar inflammatory conditions.

In infection conditions, TNF must also be tightly regulated to prevent excessive tissue and organ damage from inflammation and an overactive immune response. When TNF is left uncontrolled during infections, it can lead to sepsis. For several decades, studies of septic shock were modeled by investigating responses to bacterial LPS. In this model, LPS activates certain immune cells that trigger the production of inflammatory cytokines, in particular TNF. This then leads to excessive immune cell proliferation, recruitment and death, ultimately resulting in tissue and organ damage. Too strong of an immune response is not a good thing.

Researchers have shown that blocking TNF activity can effectively treat numerous autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. Use of TNF blockers has dramatically increased in the past decades, reaching a market size of roughly $40 billion.

However, TNF blockers have been unsuccessful in preventing the cytokine storm that can arise from COVID-19 infections and sepsis. This is in part because exactly how TNF triggers its toxic effects on the body is still poorly understood despite years of research.

How TNF can be lethal

Studying sepsis might provide some clues as to how TNF mediates how the immune system responds to infection. In acute inflammatory conditions such as sepsis, TNF blockers are less able to address TNF overproduction. However, studies in mice show that neutralizing TNF can prevent the death of the animal from bacterial LPS. Although researchers do not yet understand the reason for this discrepancy, it highlights the need for further understanding how TNF contributes to sepsis.

Blood cells made in the bone marrow, or myeloid cells, are known to be the major producers of TNF. So we wondered if myeloid cells also mediate TNF-induced death.

Illustration of TNF bound to a cell membrane

TNF (blue) is implicated in a number of inflammatory diseases.selvanegra/iStock via Getty Images Plus

First, we identified which particular molecules might offer protection from TNF-induced death. When we injected mice with a lethal dose of TNF, we found that mice lacking either TRIF or CD14, two proteins typically associated with immune responses to bacterial LPS but not TNF, had improved survival. This finding parallels our earlier work identifying these factors as regulators of a protein complex that controls cell death and inflammation in response to LPS.

Next, we wanted to figure out which cells are involved in TNF-induced death. When we injected a lethal dose of TNF in mice lacking the two proteins in two specific types of myeloid cells, neutrophils and macrophages, mice had reduced symptoms of sepsis and improved survival. This finding positions macrophages and neutrophils as major triggers for TNF-mediated death in mice.

Our results also suggest TRIF and CD14 as potential treatment targets for sepsis, with the ability to both reduce cell death and inflammation.The Conversation

Alexander (Sasha) Poltorak, Professor of Immunology, Tufts University and Hayley Muendlein, Research Assistant Professor of Immunology, Tufts University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Summer heatwave bleaches 91 percent of Great Barrier Reef: report

A prolonged summer heatwave in Australia left 91 percent of the Great Barrier Reef's coral damaged by bleaching, according to a new government monitoring report.

It was the first time on record the reef had suffered bleaching during a La Nina weather cycle, when cooler temperatures would normally be expected.

The Reef Snapshot report offered new details of the damage caused by the fourth "mass bleaching" the world's largest coral reef system has experienced since 2016, which was first revealed in March.

"Climate change is escalating, and the Reef is already experiencing the consequences of this," the report warned.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, which published the report late Tuesday, conducted extensive surveys of the World Heritage-listed reef between September 2021 and March 2022.

It found that after waters began to warm last December, all three major regions of the reef experienced bleaching -- a phenomenon that occurs when coral is stressed and expels brightly colored algae living in it.

'Higher mortality'

Although bleached corals are still alive, and moderately affected sections of the reef may recover, "severely bleached corals have higher mortality rates", the report said.

Of the 719 reefs surveyed, the report said 654 -- or 91 percent -- showed some level of coral bleaching.

The report was published 10 days before Australia's May 21 federal election, in which climate change policy has emerged as a key issue for voters.

Australia's 2019-2020 "Black Summer" bushfires and deadly east coast floods that swept away cars and engulfed homes this year have highlighted the country's growing climate risks.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has, however, resisted calls to make the country's 2030 emissions reduction target more ambitious, while vowing to mine and export coal for as long as there are buyers.

The Labor opposition has promised to boost renewables and commit to a 43 percent cut in greenhouse gases by 2030 but made no mention of phasing out coal burning.

'Not normal'

"Although bleaching is becoming more and more frequent, this is not normal, and we should not accept that this is the way things are," Australian Marine Conservation Society campaigner Lissa Schindler said.

"Both major political parties need to face up to the fact that their climate goals are not enough for the Reef."

During Australia's election campaign, there has been another force in favor of climate action at play, with more than 20 climate-focused independent candidates running for key seats.

These independents -- mostly women -- are being financed to stand for election by a fund, Climate 200, set up by activist-philanthropist Simon Holmes a Court.

Most of them are standing in urban, conservative seats against ruling Liberal Party candidates, seeking to sway voters who want stronger climate action.

Polls indicate a few conservative-held seats may be at risk, including Treasurer Josh Frydenberg's.

Greenpeace activist Martin Zavan, meanwhile, said fossil fuels were to blame for the coral bleaching.

"Whoever leads the Australian government after the election must have the courage to stand up to the vested interests of the fossil fuel industry and drastically cut emissions by replacing coal and gas with clean energy," he said.

Next month, the United Nations' World Heritage Committee will decide whether to list the reef as "in danger".

Australia was able to avoid a threatened UN downgrade of the reef's World Heritage status in 2015 by creating a "Reef 2050" plan and pouring billions of dollars into protection.

© 2022 AFP

US Women's Basketball season kicks off with key star held in Russia

Women's Basketball season kicks off in the United States on Friday without one of its brightest stars: Brittney Griner, who was arrested in Russia just before Moscow launched its war in Ukraine.

It has been some 80 days since the two-time Olympic gold medalist was arrested at the Moscow airport. But it has also taken the United States that long to go public with its push for her freedom.

The six-foot-nine (2.06-meter) player was halted on February 17 on charges of carrying in her luggage vape cartridges with cannabis oil, illegal in Russia.

The arrest, however, went largely unnoticed -- US authorities initially kept a low profile in the case, fearing that the player could be used as leverage in the war with Ukraine.

There were no vigils, there were no demonstrations.

Unlike Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, whose disappearance caused a commotion in the world of sports and was on the front page of newspapers, Griner's arrest was surround by silence. It was not even revealed to the general public until March 5.

But now, two weeks before the start of her trial, where Griner faces up to ten years in prison, the United States has changed its tack.

'Wrongfully detained'

The State Department announced for the first time on Tuesday that Griner was "wrongfully detained."

As a result, the case will now be dealt with by the US administration's special envoy for hostage affairs, Roger Carstens.

Carstens already helped secure the release of former US marine Trevor Reed, who was freed from detention in Russia last week in a Cold War-style prisoner swap with a detained Russian pilot.

The basketball player's wife, Cherelle Griner, who since March has mainly asked for respect for the couple's privacy, immediately spoke up.

"I love and miss you beyond words," Cherelle Griner posted Wednesday on her Instagram account, which includes a multitude of photos of the couple.

Griner had been in Russia to play club basketball before the US season resumed, a common practice for American players, who can earn much higher salaries in foreign leagues than on domestic teams.

Since her arrest, the player has been detained in a cell where she reads Dostoyevsky in a bed that is too small, according to Russian state news agency TASS.

The Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) has announced that it wants to pay tribute to Griner by displaying her initials and her number, 42, on the floors of the league's 12 teams during the 2022 season.

Griner's team, the Phoenix Mercury, which she helped lead to the championship final last year, faces the Las Vegas Aces at 7:00 pm local time Friday (0200 GMT Saturday)

The league promises that Griner will continue to collect her salary. The move has been welcomed by a number of female athletes, among them US soccer great Megan Rapinoe, who has become the face of the fight for equal pay between male and female athletes.

"If a Top-5 men's player in the world had been detained in Russia right now," former men's basketball player Rex Chapman wrote on Twitter, "... it would be getting more urgent coverage."

© 2022 AFP

How the first cat-like saber-tooth predator was discovered – and why it differs from modern cats

Although they are currently the greatest predators on land, it’s likely that modern-day cats wouldn’t have been a match for the newly discovered Diegoaelurus vanvalkenburghae. At around 42 million years old, it’s thought to be one of the first saber-tooth cat-like predators to have roamed the planet – and a formidable hunter capable of killing prey much larger than itself.

None of our existing top predators possess a saber-tooth. But throughout much of the history of wild cats, there have been sabre-toothed forms.

Indeed, from 2.5 million years ago, until as recently as 10,000 years ago, the iconic Smilodon fatalis – commonly known as the sabre-tooth tiger – was on the prowl in California and other parts of North and South America. Although its main focus were the large, thick-skinned mammoths and woolly rhinos, early humans might well have been at risk, too.

Though this newly described animal was smaller than Smilodon, the saber-tooth adaptation means it was probably one of the first ever mammalian hypercarnivores, surviving almost exclusively on a diet of meat – a lifestyle followed by modern cats today.

The sabre-tooth discovery

In the new PeerJ study scientists from the University of Arizona and San Diego Natural History Museum describe the new predator, which they named Diegoaelurus vanvalkenburghae after San Diego county, in southern California, where the fossil was found, and Professor Van Valkenburgh, the doyenne of carnivore evolution.

The beautiful piece of lower jaw had sat unappreciated in the drawers of the San Diego museum since 1988 – until Curator Ashley Poust found it and recognized what it was. And although it doesn’t sound like much to go on, we can actually learn a huge amount about this ancient creature from the fossilized jaw and teeth alone.

Skull cast of a Smilodon next to the Diegoaelurus fossil, which is much smaller with a more pronounced chin bone

When compared with a skull cast of a Smilodon, the Diegoaelurus fossil is much smaller with a more pronounced chin bone (lower-right edge). CC by 4.0.

Cypress Hansen, San Diego Natural History Museum, CC BY

At the back of the newly discovered jaw there are slicing scissor teeth, called carnassials – the equivalent of molars and premolars – shaped like flesh-cutting blades with multiple points. Going forward in the jaw, there is a long gap, and then the key tooth, the canine saber-tooth, elongated and curved. Below that, is an expanded and deepened portion at the front of the jawbone that partly accommodates the deeply rooted canine tooth, and also provides added strength for the jawbone when it bites with force.

The unpreserved upper jawbone would have featured an equivalent canine saber tooth, which would have cut down outside the jaw as the animal seized its prey.

The jawbone fossil of the newly described sabre-tooth cat

We can learn so much about the size and diet of Diegoaelurus from this 42-million-year-old jawbone fossil. CC BY 4.0.

Cypress Hansen, San Diego Natural History Museum, CC BY

The fossil also allowed the study authors to identify that Diegoaelurus is a machaeroidine, a sub-family of extinct mammals from North America and Asia. But our new knowledge doesn’t end there. From long-term studies of the rocks and fossils of California, scientists can form a picture of the newly discovered animal’s habitat and lifestyle.

California in the middle Eocene – the time 42 million years ago when Diegoaelurus lived – was a land of rich tropical forests through which the bobcat-sized Diegoaelurus slipped silently in search of prey. The forests teemed with rodents and early primates in the trees, as well as larger herbivorous mammals, such as even-toed oreodonts (most closely related to camels and pigs), early hoofed tapiroids, multi-toed horses, and the small rhinocerous Menoceras, on the ground.

Perhaps this first saber-tooth concentrated on hunting these thick-skinned ungulates, leaping from the trees onto their backs and biting suddenly and deeply.

Could the saber-tooth return?

Although Diegoaelurus looked similar to cats, they are, in fact, unrelated. But the saber-toothed adaptation to hypercarnivory arose independently several times among cats in other extinct sub-families, such as the nimravids, the “saber-tooth false cats” in North America and Eurasia – and even in the marsupial thylacosmilids of South America.

But when Smilodon – the last known survivor of the most recent sub-family, Machairodontinae – became extinct, probably due to loss of prey or hunting by early humans, the saber-tooth disappeared.

Roaring tiger sitting on a rock during the day

Tigers are fearsome predators but struggle to bring down prey much bigger than themselves.

Photo by Pixabay, CC BY-NC-SA

Most cats today operate as solitary hunters, and so generally tackle prey that is of a similar size to themselves, or smaller, in contrast to the saber-tooths who were able to take on much larger prey.

The modern family Felidae – which includes all modern cats – has 41 species, including the pantherines, such as lions, tigers and leopards, and the felines, such as cheetahs, pumas and caracal. Some of the larger cats – tigers and lions, for example – are hypercarnivores who live only on the flesh of other large animals. Smaller cats are carnivores, of course, but with broader diets which can include rodents, birds, lizards and even invertebrates such as bugs and beetles.

It could be suggested that saber teeth are an adaptation that is urgently required by many modern large cats. Lions and tigers do have large canine teeth that are used to pierce and kill – but they could certainly benefit from canines that are longer and stronger.

When a lion tries to bring down a Cape buffalo or a juvenile elephant, it struggles to make a killing bite. Even Chilean pumas struggle to bite through the hide of a guanaco (a native of South America and close relative of the llama) and only succeed in killing their prey in one hunt out of ten. And with their thicker skin, pachyderms like buffalo, hippos, rhinos and elephants are more or less immune from attack.

Indeed, saber-teeth could save the lives of many modern large hunting cats by making the hunt safer. So will one of the modern cat species evolve them? Well, it seems like leopards might already be moving in that direction, so only time will tell.The Conversation

Michael J. Benton, Professor of Vertebrate Paleontology, University of Bristol

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Oscars 2022: 5 experts on the wins, the emotions, the music – and the bold frocks on the runway

It’s rare that an appealingly minor film wins the best picture Oscar – and a remake of a French film at that – but this year, CODA has done it.

Is it the best film from 2021? Absolutely not! But with best picture decided by preferential ballot (unlike the other awards), it makes sense that a sweet and inoffensive movie could sneak through.

One can imagine that CODA would have appeared at the second, third and fourth spot for numerous critics, unlike favourite The Power of the Dog which, as a divisive film, would have ranked last for many (as it was for this critic).

CODA is well made and very easy to watch, with its narrative following teenager Ruby (Emilia Jones) as she tries to develop her skills as a singer while living with Deaf parents and a Deaf older brother, helping run the family fishing business, and attending high school in their fishing community of Gloucester, Massachusetts.

In some respects, it’s nice that a low budget film like CODA won, though its upbeat, formulaic quality as a coming of age film will not appeal to people who like strange, challenging and intense cinema – in other words, works of art.

CODA is comfort cinema, firmly situated in the entertainment camp. But it’s not bad, and in this day and age, that’s pretty good for a best picture winner.

–Ari Mattes

A speech acknowledging the personal heroes

What people take away from Oscars ceremonies over the last decade is more and more the prepared content, less and less the acceptance speeches.

The award winners have only 45 seconds to speak. They get thrown into a career-defining moment more or less by surprise.

By contrast, the choreographed segments can be arranged so that audiences notice and recall them. This year we had Beyoncé’s all-lime curtain raiser, the minute of silence for #standwithukraine and the hosts’ rapid-fire roasting of celebrities.

There is a broader story about the history of speeches here: they are steadily losing their power as the medium that speaks for a moment.

The standout exception remains moments where a speech takes us outside the expected norm. Will Smith’s angry, ugly confrontation with Chris Rock might become the most talked-about moment of the night, but Troy Kotsur’s acceptance speech for best supporting actor for CODA, delivered in American Sign Language – with his interpreter choking back tears as it unfolded – should be a reference point for many in years to come.

Kotsur acknowledged the heroes of signing in his own life, both at home and at work. His speech gave a very public voice to people who communicate visually: to the Deaf community, to the children of Deaf adults who gave his film its name, and to a stage and screen community that has nurtured talent like his for much longer than most people have recognised.

–Tom Clark

Jane Campion’s second nomination – and first win

The Power of the Dog was nominated for an extraordinary 12 Academy Awards this year, with its director Jane Campion making history as the first woman to be nominated for best director more than once.

Despite collecting the most nominations of all the films this year, The Power of the Dog only came away with one win – Campion’s long overdue directing nod.

Her acceptance speech was notably prewritten, perhaps in an effort to avoid a recreation of her blunder at the Critics’ Choice Awards earlier this month in which she seemed to compare her struggles in male-dominated Hollywood to the challenges faced by Venus and Serena Williams as black female tennis players.

Campion’s award was The Power of the Dog’s sole win. In stacked technical categories like sound, cinematography and production design, it was outperformed by box office giant Dune.

Given The Power of the Dog’s divisive approach to storytelling (host Wanda Sykes quipped she had watched it three times and was only halfway through), it is perhaps unsurprising that The Power of the Dog was not as well received as its many nominations initially suggested.

–Claire Whitley

Very few wins for the musicals

2021 saw the release of an unusually large number of musicals, some of which were nominated for Oscars. With the most nominations (and the biggest budget) was West Side Story, and we also saw Tick… Tick… Boom! and Encanto on the podium.

CODA, while not a musical per se, puts music at the centre of its story, and Summer of Soul (winner of best documentary) brings an important music historical moment back to our knowledge. In the Heights unfortunately missed out on any nominations even though it deserved some in the technical categories. Dear Evan Hansen seems already to have been justly forgotten.

The one original musical (as opposed to stage-to-screen adaptations) among the nominations, Encanto (winner of best animated film), had two of its songs performed in the ceremony: the nominated Dos Oruguitas and the year’s biggest hit We Don’t Talk About Bruno. The latter should have provided some well needed relief from music that alternated between dull (the incidental music) and sombre (the other nominated songs), but the performance was let down by a confusing staging and sound mix and unnecessarily rewritten lyrics.

The box office and award disappointment of most of these musicals puts the future of the genre at risk. If a film as good as West Side Story fails to make back even half its budget, whether producers will continue to risk large-scale musicals is brought into question.

For now, it might only be an animated musical that can seem like a sure thing.

–Gregory Camp

A disappointing best actor winner…

Will Smith is a likeable enough film star, and he’s led numerous blockbusters throughout his career, effectively anchoring superb genre films like Independence Day, Enemy of the State, and Bad Boys.

The problem is, like many charismatic entertainers, this year’s winner for best performance by an actor is not a very good actor. He brings absolutely no nuance or originality to any of his “serious” roles. Everything he does is in his face – he tries to convince us with his eyes, with twitches of his cheeks, with stern or soft intonations of the voice, running through the gamut of expected mannerisms.

His Oscar-winning performance in King Richard is no exception. He offers a run-of-the-mill portrayal as the earnest, slightly cracked but sincere hustling father of the Williams sisters. He expresses emotion and intensity where we would expect it: he is sufficiently convincing in an obvious part in a thoroughly banal biopic.

We should not be surprised by any of this. Since excellent actor Denzel Washington won the best actor award for his role as Alonzo in Training Day (an excellent film, with a solid but very routine characterisation from Washington as the corrupt cop), no one has taken the award very seriously.

–Ari Mattes

… but a wonderful choice for actress

Unlike Smith, winner of the best performance by an actress award Jessica Chastain has acting chops, and her talent is on display in the caricaturish (but very funny) The Eyes of Tammy Faye.

Her embodiment as the real-life televangelist won’t be to everyone’s taste – and neither will the film, as a biopic its scope is already limited by the contours of reality – but Chastain is thoroughly convincing as the deluded but sincere figure who, notably, refuses to ostracise the gay community despite pressure to do so, interviewing pastor Steve Pieters, an AIDS patient, during the height of the AIDS epidemic.

Graduating from Juilliard in 2003, Chastain has been impressive in numerous films, from her improvised performance in Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life to her intense characterisation as Jo in John Michael McDonagh’s The Forgiven. Chastain is a solid actress whose best work, one hopes, is still to come.

–Ari Mattes

Where was the music?

As a musical event, the ceremony itself left much to be desired. The producers made a play for eclecticism by having three different musical sets: the first hour featured DJ D-Nice; a small band led by music director Adam Blackstone played in the second hour; a pit orchestra played for the rest.

We are used to hearing snippets of the film scores play while winners go to the stage, but this was mostly replaced with innocuous background music (even from the orchestra). We only heard the scores during clips of the nominated films and –perversely – the very shortest clips of all were in the nomination announcements for best original score!

Billie Eilish performs

Billie Eilish’s performance was one of the few musical highlights of the night.


The chance to introduce millions of viewers to these composers’ work was limited to about two chords per score.

Hans Zimmer’s win for best original score for Dune further cements his place in the film scoring firmament. As expected, Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas won the award for best original song for No Time to Die, which also has a Zimmer connection (he wrote that film’s score). Their performance of the song in the ceremony was one of its few musical highlights, the composers presenting an intensely focused rendition of their work.

Just like a good film score, the musical programme of an awards ceremony should carefully take the audience on a cohesive aural journey. I hope next year’s producers make better musical decisions.

–Gregory Camp

From a sea of pastels to bold sartorial choices

Seeing the first arrivals, it seemed that the trend for pastels might rule the fashion of the night.

The night began in pastels.

AAP (various photographers)

There was Jessica Chastain in sparkling copper and lavender custom Gucci, Lily James in thigh-revealing pink Versace, Zoë Kravitz in Audrey Hepburn-esque delicate pink Saint Laurent sheath, Kodi Smit-McPhee in powder blue Bottega Veneta and the 15-year-old stars of King Richard, Demi Singleton and Saniyya Sidney in lilac Miu Miu and pale blue and pink Armani Privé, respectively.

But, as the event progressed the colours became brighter, the silhouettes bolder.

Ariana DeBose was glorious in custom tomato-red Valentino crop top and trousers, a long taffeta cape trailing behind her. She and the iconic Rita Moreno, in Carolina Herrera gown and black and white feather Adrienne Landau hat, made a delightfully striking pair.

It was a night of bold silhouettes.

AAP (various photographers)

Bold sartorial choices also came from Kristen Stewart, who opted for Chanel micro-mini shorts (and quickly swapped her stilettos for brogues); Timothée Chalamet, shirtless with his sequined black Louis Vuitton jacket; and the inimitable Zendaya in a custom, midriff-baring Valentino cropped blouse and glittering silver skirt.

Making a political statement in support of Ukraine, Youn Yuh-Jung presented the dapper Troy Kotsur with his award whilst wearing a #withrefugees blue ribbon pinned to her Chanel dress. (Multiple others wore the ribbon or Ukrainian flag pins or pocket squares).

My highlights: Uma Thurman in a chic Bottega Veneta take on her iconic Pulp Fiction dance scene look. Maggie Gyllenhaal in structured Schiaparelli. And the ever-amazing Lupita Nyong’o looking like an Oscar in gold Prada (made perfect with matching gold spectacles) presenting the award to costume designer Jenny Beavan for her incredible work on Cruella.

–Harriette RichardsThe Conversation

Ari Mattes, Lecturer in Communications and Media, University of Notre Dame Australia; Claire Whitley, PhD Candidate, Flinders University; Gregory Camp, Senior Lecturer, University of Auckland; Harriette Richards, Research Associate, Cultural Studies, The University of Melbourne, and Tom Clark, Chair of Academic Board, Victoria University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.