“Alejandro G. Iñárritu made Oscar history in a couple of ways Sunday night becoming the first director to win back to back Oscars in 66 years, and only the third ever to do it after Joseph L. Mankiewicz and John Ford. He also became the third Mexican director in a row to win (his victory last year for Birdman, and Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity), a true statement of diversity in a broadcast that basically pummeled the industry audience with jabs at the mostly white nature of the nominees at the Dolby for much of its three hour and 36 minute running time.
But this key winning moment became a complete embarrassment for the Academy as the show’s producers, who already had exhibited quite a trigger-happy finger on cueing the orchestra to cut off winners at 45 seconds, incredibly began to play Iñárritu off just as he was trying to make a key poignant point about his own path to this moment and the need to ignore questions of color and ethnicity in giving opportunities. Iñárritu would not let this happen and he fought against the rising strains of “Flight Of The Valkyries” to get just the kind of heartfelt moment into the show the producers, Reginald Hudlin and David Hill, had encouraged winners to make.
This was a real miss in an otherwise entertaining, at times even inspiring, Oscars broadcast that had some genuine suspense and surprises in the mix for a change. But that doesn’t excuse the shabby treatment of now four-time Oscar winner Iñárritu, and he was well aware of it when I caught up with him just as he entered the Governors Ball after the show. “I hadn’t even used all my time when they started to play me off,” he told me, growing a little agitated as we discussed the matter.
He said he was determined to have his say and was clearly peeved that all the talk of diversity only seemed to be about African-Americans, with no mention from Rock or anyone else about Asians, Latinos and other minorities looking for help to follow their talent and dreams. He used the word “racism” to describe the tone of that aspect of the show.
Former Academy President Hawk Koch told me he too was angry about the treatment Iñárritu received, while a current Governor also agreed it was something they needed to review…”