Latin American faces were few and far between at last night’s Oscars ceremony, but a few winners stood out in the crowd — nearly all of them from Mexico.
Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu took home the Best Director statuette for “Birdman,” which also won Best Picture. This was the second year in a row that a director from Mexico won the coveted title, as Alfonso Cuarón was awarded the prize in 2014 for “Gravity.”
In his acceptance speech for Best Picture, Iñárritu expressed hope that Mexico “can find and build the government that we deserve,” a comment that was seen by many Mexicans as a critique of the current government.
“Birdman,” starring Michael Keaton, Edward Norton and Emma Stone, was a heavy favorite to win the major awards of the night, despite the objection of many critics, who felt that Richard Linklater’s 12-year labor of love, “Boyhood,” was more deserving of Best Picture, or at least Best Director.
Iñárritu was not the only native son to bring an Oscar home to Mexico, as cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, nickanmed “Chivo,” won his second consecutive award for cinematography for his work on his countryman’s “Birdman.” This followed last year’s prize for “Gravity,” under the direction of Cuarón, with whom he has collaborated on six films, including “Y tu mamá también” and the universally acclaimed “Children of Men.”
Lubezki, who has worked on such notable films as “Ali,” “The Tree of Life” and “Burn After Reading,” has been nominated for an Oscar seven times and is one of the most respected cinematographers in Hollywood today. The announcement of his name after the envelope was opened brought a roar of applause from many in the audience.
The 87th annual Oscars ceremony was criticized by many as being one of the “whitest ever,” with exactly zero nominees of color out of the 20 people up for awards in the best actor/actress and supporting actor/actress categories, giving rise to the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag.
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Argentina also made its presence known at the ceremony, with co-writers Armando Bo and Nicolás Giacobone sharing the prize for Best Original Screenplay with Iñárritu and Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. In his brief acceptance speech with the other “Birdman” co-writers, Bo thanked his home country, saying “Gracias a la Argentina.”
Though Mexico and Argentina had the night’s only Latin American winners, there were other nominees — though not many — from the region.
“Wild Tales” (Relatos Salvajes), by Argentine director Damián Szifrón, was nominated in the Best Foreign Language Film category, though it lost to Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski’s film “Ida.”
Nicaraguan director Gabriel Sierra was in the running for Best Documentary Short for his film “The Reaper” (La Parka). Because the short was produced in Mexico, it was officially entered as a Mexican film, rather than Nicaraguan.
In the Best Documentary Feature category, co-directors Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado were nominated for “The Salt of the Earth,” a look at the groundbreaking work of Ribeiro’s father, Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado.
The prize in this category went to Laura Poitras for “Citizenfour,” her documentary on whistleblower Edward Snowden.