So touching to see Rita Moreno watch Ariana win for the same role she won for 60 years ago. (Images via ABC)
West Side Story's Ariana DeBose made history at Sunday's Oscars, becoming the first Afro Latina woman to win an acting Oscar, and the first out queer woman of color ever to win for acting.
Her speech was so moving. We have come a long way from Jodie Foster her gloved (literally!) upbraiding of people for daring to inquire about her private life (“I'd like to thank all of the people in this industry who have respected my choices and who have not been afraid of the power and the dignity that that entitled me to”) to DeBose jubilantly saying:
Imagine this little girl in the back seat of a white ford Focus. When you look into her eyes you see an openly queer woman of color, an Afro Latina, who found her strength in life through art. And that's what I believe we're here to celebrate.
So to anybody who's ever questioned your identity ever, ever, ever, or you find yourself living in the gray spaces, I promise you this: there is, indeed, a place for us.
It was subtle if you weren't paying attention, but Queen Latifah clearly indicated she is a lesbian while accepting her Lifetime Achievement Award at Sunday's BET Awards, thanking her loves — her partner Eboni Nichols and their child, Rebel.
It's a whole new world, no? (Image via video still)
When I was young and resentful that Jodie Foster wasn't out while receiving a well-deserved Oscar (and using her speech to push back against calls to be out), I couldn't have guessed that in '21 she'd be on her couch at home with her wife, broadcasting it live on the Golden Globes. A truly shocking juxtaposition to have lived through, don't you agree?
Her acceptance speech from nearly 30 (!) years ago, really doesn't sound nearly as defensive as I recalled it — so subtle, but we did know what she was talking about:
Jonathan Demme: February 22, 1944—April 26, 2017 (Image via handout)
Jonathan Demme, who won the Oscar for directing The Silence of the Lambs (1991), has died of cancer at 73, Variety reports.
After a string of edgy, critically acclaimed films like the offbeat Howard Hughes buddy movie Melvin and Howard (1980), the much-loved Talking Heads doc Stop Making Sense (1984), the Melanie Griffith road movie Something Wild (1986) and the Michelle Pfeiffer mobster comedy Married to the Mob (1988), Demme broke into A-list director territory with Lambs, which became a rare film to win all of the Top 5 awards at the Oscars, including Best Adapted Screenplay.
Lambs, for which then-closeted actress Jodie Foster won the Oscar (giving a speech that obliquely referenced her choice to be a private person), contains — along with fine acting and memorable suspense — an arguably exploitative representation of a serial killer who is described as someone who thinks he is, and wants to be, “transsexual.” The script includes dialogue that attempts to argue that actual trans people are not prone to murder, but scenes of Buffalo Bill with his penis tucked between his legs and mugging in female garb seem unmistakably designed to creep out the audience.
It could be argued that Demme hadn't completely shaken off his early years working on unapologetically exploitative films for Roger Corman, including his directorial debut, Caged Heat (1974).
Buffalo Bill's shock value (Image via Orion)
Nonetheless, The Silence of the Lambs has since been called one of the 100 Greatest Films Ever Made by the AFI, and was an enormous international success.
In Demme's follow-up to Lambs, he took on the topic of AIDS in Philadelphia (1993), which won Tom Hanks his first Oscar. The film grossed nearly $80 million in the U.S., thanks to Demme's efforts to get it made, and thanks to his casting of movie stars Hanks and Denzel Washington.
His career took a swift dive thereafter, with the Oprah Winfrey-starring bomb Beloved (1998) and the poorly received remakes The Truth About Charlie (2002) and The Manchurian Candidate (2004).
Rachel Getting Married (2008), starring Anne Hathaway, represented a return to Demme's roots. His final narrative films, A Master Builder (2013) and the Meryl Streep vehicle Ricki and the Flash (2015) did not make a big impact.
In 2016, Demme directed Justin Timberlake's concert feature, Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids, for Netflix.
Demme had been battling cancer at the time of his death. He is survived by his wife Joanne Howard and their three children.