Chris Rock delivers stinging opening monologue
“Mad Max: Fury Road” won six Oscars in technical categories at Sunday’s Academy Awards, but diversity was the big theme and issue of the night.
Host Chris Rock delivered a stinging open monologue as he opened the show, wasting no time bringing up the “Oscars So White” controversy that was the biggest story heading into the evening.
Rock, who took the stage to the sounds of Public Enemy’s 1989 anthem “Fight the Power,” called the Oscars “the white people’s choice awards” and noted the lack of diversity among the evening’s nominees.
“If they nominated hosts, I wouldn’t even get this job,” said Rock. “You’d all be watching Neil Patrick Harris right now.”
The second-time Oscar host said there was pressure for him to boycott the show, but downplayed the fuss. “How come it’s only unemployed people that tell you to quit something?” he said.
But Rock hardly gave Hollywood a pass. He said Hollywood’s racism is like sorority racism, where a girl is deemed “not Kappa material.” And he said black actors should get the same opportunities as white actors — like Leonardo DiCaprio gets a great part every year.
“I want them to understand that tonite should not determine the hard work and effort that you put into your craft. At the end of the day we love what we do and we’re breaking major ground doing it. These problems of today will eventually become problems of the old. Let’s not let this negative issue of diversity beat us. Let’s continue to do what we do best and work hard.”
Later, Kevin Hart – whom Rock joked throughout the night was in line to host next year’s show – spoke on the issue of diversity, and asked for a round of applause for all the actors of color who were not nominated.
“I want them to understand that tonight should not determine the hard work and effort that you put into your craft. At the end of the day, we love what we do, and we’re breaking major ground doing it,” Hart said. “These problems of today will eventually become problems of the old. Let’s not let this negative issue of diversity beat us. Let’s continue to do what we do best and work hard.”
Elsewhere, the year’s breakout actress Alicia Vikander won Best Supporting Actress honors for her role in “The Danish Girl.”
Among those the Swedish actress thanked were her parents. “Mom and dad, thank you for giving me the belief that anything can happen, even though I would never believe this,” she said.
Aside from “Mad Max’s” dominance in the technical categories, “Inside Out” won the Best Animated Feature award, and screenplay honors went to “The Big Short” (for adapted screenplay) and “Spotlight” (for original screenplay).
“The Big Short” director Adam McKay didn’t tiptoe around making a strong statement while accepting his award.
“If you don’t want big money to control government, don’t vote for candidates that take money from big banks, oil, or weirdo billionaires,” he said. “Stop!”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.