These women don’t need to pull any punches.
The slap at Sunday night’s Academy Awards that set the internet abuzz shouldn’t overshadow the deserving women who took home awards. So we decided instead to focus on their triumphant wins, history-making moments and tender gestures.
Below are a few instances that deserve celebration of women who wowed us and warmed our hearts.
Ariana DeBose gave a rousing speech after becoming the first openly queer woman of color to win Best Supporting Actress.
DeBose added a gold statue to her BAFTA and Screen Actors Guild awards for her stunning performance in “West Side Story” as Anita.
The Afro-Latina actress had already made history as the first openly queer woman of color to be nominated for the award. Winning it, she acknowledged in her acceptance speech, was a sign of change in the industry.
“To anybody who has ever questioned your identity or you find yourself living in the gray spaces,” she said, “I promise you this — there is indeed a place for us.”
Jane Campion was just the third woman to take home the Best Director award.
“The Power of the Dog,” expected to sweep the awards last night, ended up with only one Oscar to its name — but it was a notable one. The director of the acclaimed Western followed in the footsteps of Kathryn Bigelow and Chloe Zhao, who won in the category for last year’s “Nomadland.”
Campion, a New Zealand native, told NPR that her goal with the film was to tell a story different from the “crusty old Westerns” that populate the mainstream media, “where it’s really only told from a kind of alpha male perspective.”
Billie Eilish’s giddy delight at winning Best Original Song was infectious.
Nothing livened up the audience in the immediate aftermath of the slapping spectacle last night quite like Eilish’s giggling glee as she and her brother Finneas nabbed an award for the single, “No Time to Die.” The duo performed the “James Bond” song and beat out bigwigs in the industry, including “Encanto’s” Lin-Manuel Miranda, with their win.
Eilish recorded the song at 18 as the youngest artist to work on a Bond theme. Now 20 years old, she appeared to be bursting with joy as her name was announced. “This is so unbelievable I could scream,” Eilish said.
Lady Gaga and Liza Minnelli’s tender moment made them the perfect pair to announce the evening’s final award.
Minnelli’s appearance at the awards ceremony was a surprise given the Oscar-winning “Cabaret” actress’s retreat from the public eye in the wake of serious health issues such as encephalitis. She appeared on stage in a wheelchair to announce the winner of Best Picture and occasionally seemed disoriented, but Lady Gaga had her back the whole time.
Gaga, who has a slew of awards, made sure to keep the spotlight on Minnelli, stepping to the side as the crowd erupted into applause. Their mics picked up on one of their sweetest exchanges from the night as Gaga whispered to Minnelli, “I got you,” and Minnelli replied, “I know, thank you.”
“CODA” became the third female-directed film to nab the coveted Best Picture award.
The indie, low-budget film debuted at Sundance and was backed by a streaming service. But “CODA” also made history as a female-directed film about Deaf culture that spotlights Deaf actors and actresses, and it won the most high-profile award.
Writer and director Sian Heder described “CODA,” which stands for Child of Deaf Adults, as “a story about the end of childhood,” in an interview with NPR.
A win for the documentary “The Queen of Basketball” proved the value of sharing female athletes’ stories.
The Short Subject Documentary award went to a New York Times film about legendary female athlete Lusia Harris, produced by basketball stars Shaquille O’Neal and Stephen Curry. Harris, a basketball trailblazer who was the first Olympic woman to score a basket in womens’ basketball history, died earlier this year.
The victory honored Harris, director Ben Proudfoot noted, as proof that “there’s an audience for female athletes.” Hoisting the golden statue high, Proudfoot offered it as an answer to anyone who questioned “whether their stories are valuable or entertaining or important.”
Proudfoot ended his acceptance speech with a call on President Biden to bring basketball player Brittney Griner, currently detained in Russia, back home.
Three hilarious female hosts injected humor into a turbulent show at all the right times.
Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall helped to lighten the mood a bit, which turned out to be necessary.. With biting jokes aimed at Leonardo DiCaprio’s love interests, Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill and an impromptu Covid-19 test that consisted of Hall rubbing up against a line of men, the trio made sure to liven up the event.
Schumer’s quip about a “different vibe” in the room attempted to address the awkward slap.