Latinos In The House! Coco, Del Toro Win Oscars!

By Joe Contreras, Latin Life Denver/America Media

Shouts of “Viva Mexico” came from the Oscar stage Sunday night as Latinos were not only well represented at this year’s 90th Academy Awards but won Oscars in some of the most significant categories including Best Song, Best Animated Feature film and Best Picture of the year. No Latino actors were nominated in any category causing an uproar in the Latino cinematic community about the exclusion of Latino voices in American films despite the fact that Latinos make up a significant amount of the ticket buying audience.

Del Toro“Remember Me,” from Disney-Pixar’s “Coco,” won the Oscar for Best Song  for songwriters Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez as well as Best Animated Feature Film. Mexican director Guillermo del Toro won the Academy Award for Best Director for “The Shape of Water as well as for Best Film of the Year.

This year’s ceremonies saw one of the most diverse and inclusive awards shows in terms of nominees, presenters and audience.

Lin Manuel Miranda

Lin Manuel Miranda

Latino presenters included Lin Manuel Miranda, Creator of the Broadway sensation Hamilton. Miranda announced earlier in the evening that he will star in the upcoming Disney film “Mary Poppins Returns” due out at Christmas 2018. Eliza Gonzalez, the Mexican beauty who as small girl from Mexico dreamed her whole life of this moment, never expecting it to become true said “I cried. Always fight for your dreams and believe in yourself, even when everything looks hopeless she told reporters. Eugenio Derbez presented for Best Song. Natilia Lafourcade, Gael Garcia Bernal and Miguel all sang “Remember Me” in a spectacular rendition of the song that had Marigold petals raining down on the audience. Daniela Vega, the Chilean star from the film “A Fantastic Woman” was on the stage.  Vega was one of the presenters of the night and the first transgender actress ever nominated for an Oscar. The film tells the story of a transgender woman in Chile and was nominated for Best Foreign Movie.   05oscar_moreno2-blog427 Rita MorenoRita Moreno, the first Puerto Rican to be nominated and win for Best Supporting Actress for West Side Story in 1961, wore the same dress she wore to the 1962 Oscars. The 86 year-old Moreno also presented an Oscar. See a complete list of Latin American Academy Award winners and nominees over the years Here.

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 21: Actor Gina Rodriguez attends the 24th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards. Steve Granitz/WireImage

LOS ANGELES, CA – JANUARY 21: Actor Gina Rodriguez attends the 24th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards. Steve Granitz/WireImage

Gina Rodriguez is one of the loudest and brightest Latino voices in Hollywood right now. She has been instrumental in promoting more Latino talent in Hollywood. The Jane the Virgin star was also a presenter.  WMagazine,com reported recently, “Rodriguez used her platform at the SAG Awards to advocate for more opportunities for Latinos, telling, Entertainment Weekly, “Women of color are needed to speak up and be a part of this movement. And for me, it means the world because we start to talk about inclusivity and there’s still a major lack of representation in the Latino community. So that is why I love to speak about Time’s Up, because I know that there is a community out there that is desiring to see themselves onscreen, and yet, we are still very sadly underrepresented. So studios, I love you guys, but we buy one of every four tickets at the box office every weekend, we hold studios up, Latinos hold studios up, we hold up movies at the box office. So cast us in your films so we can be a part of the growing demographic that so much is what we do for the studios.”

When black performers were excluded from all acting categories at the Academy Awards for a second year in a row in 2016, the shutout sparked a second year of an impassioned social-media movement: #OscarsSoWhite. You could say the campaign was a success. A week later, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences pledged to phase out senior members and enlist new, diverse voters who would, if all recruiting goals were met, double minority membership by 2020.

Variety Magazine reported the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) is leading the charge to pressure studios to work with Latino activists to improve representation of Latinos in the industry. The NHMC on Saturday held a demonstration just two blocks away from the Dolby Theater in Hollywood where the 90th Academy Awards took place on Sunday. It’s their second protest of the awards season

Variety reported that the number of women and people of color nominated for Academy Awards this year may have quieted the #OscarsSoWhite furor, but one group is nonetheless calling attention to the lack of Latino diversity in the movie business.

The glaring absence of Latino nominees in any of the acting categories this year is a reflection of an industry that has failed to offer more meaningful roles for Latinos, some say, a striking fact given that Los Angeles is almost nearly half Latino. According to one in-depth study, Latinos represented just 3% of speaking roles in the top 100 films of 2016, USC researchers found.

But Latino activists are focusing their energy on diversifying the ranks of executives at the major studios, arguing that in a hierarchical industry like Hollywood, the biggest opportunity for change will come from the top.

A recent Huffington Post article stated Latino actors have been historically overlooked by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences despite making up nearly 18 percent of the U.S. population. In 90 years of Oscars history, Latino actors and actresses have been nominated 16 times, and only six have won. It has been 17 years since a Latino actor or actress won an Oscar and six years since one was even nominatedAsian actors, LGBTQ actors, First Nation actors and actors with disabilities fare similarly or worse.

The article continued saying, “The major studios largely declined to provide figures for the rate of executives who are Latino, making it difficult to get a comprehensive count across the six major studios. Disney, Warner Bros., Universal and Fox did not respond to requests for the number of Latinos are in prominent executive roles. Sony has a number of Latinos across its divisions in senior roles, including Alex Almogabar Zahn, a VP at Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions, who is focusing on developing a slate of films with Latinx themes. (Latinx is the gender-neutral form of Latino increasingly used by academics, activists and bloggers). A Sony spokeswoman says there are a half dozen such projects in active development.”

Best Song “Remember Me, was the second Oscar win for  Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez the New York-based tunesmiths, having previously taken home the statue for the massive hit “Let It Go” for another Disney film, 2013’s “Frozen.” They are now two-for-two in Oscar competition.

“Remember Me” was widely favored to win for Best Song, as it plays a key role in the narrative about a Mexican boy who travels to the Land of the Dead to learn the truth about a famous musician who may be his ancestor.

The original song is heard in four different contexts in the film: First as played in grand style by Ernesto de la Cruz, that now-dead musician; then in lullaby form by Hector, another dead songwriter who fears being forgotten by his family; by the little boy, to his great-great grandmother in an emotional finale; and by Miguel with Natalie Lafourcade in a pop version under the end titles.