“Remember Me” is nominated for Best Original Song. Other nominees and performers include Mary J. Blige singing “Mighty River” from the film “Mudbound;” Sufjan Stevens will sing “Mystery of Love” from “Call Me By Your Name;” Keala Settle is singing “This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman,” and Common and Andra Day are performing “Stand Up for Something” from “Marshall.”
Gael García Bernal, Natalia LaFourcade, and Miguel will take the stage and perform “Remember Me” from “Coco” and that’s kind of major.
“We’re excited to have these talented artists showcase the powerful contribution music makes to filmmaking,” show producers Michael De Luca and Jennifer Todd said in a press statement. “It’s a privilege to welcome them to the 90th Oscars stage.”
Do you remember “Remember Me”? Here’s the version you can look forward to.
This bilingual version will surely make Latinxs delight with joy during the live performance. But we’re just wondering how Bernal will join in on this rendition.
As you recall, Bernal plays Hector, a lonely street musician, desperate to return to the living to see his family. Here’s the version he sang in the movie.
If he sings that lullaby version we might just die.
People on Twitter are already losing it with the Oscar announcement.
This weekend is sure to be a special time at the Hollywood Bowl as Disney and Pixar’s Coco will be screening a live-to-film concert experience like no other. Stars like Miguel, Eva Longoria, and Benjamin Bratt made appearances at both screenings and the iconic film was accompanied by a full, live orchestra.
However, there was one other star making her presence felt this weekend. While she might not be taking the stage or even be known to some, she is a legend in the world of Día De Los Muertos. Meet Ofelia Esparza, who for the last 40 years she has been behind hundreds of ofrendas, or alters, honoring loved ones who have past.
Her work has been featured in some of most famous museums including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Japanese American National Museum, the National Museum of Mexican Art, internationally at the first Day of the Dead exhibit in Glasgow, Scotland. Just last week, Esparza and her daughter, Rosanna Esparza Ahrens, had an exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C.
This weekend, Esparza and Ahrens showcased a three-level ofrenda right outside of the Hollywood Bowl venue. The ofrenda greeted guests attending the showings of “Coco.”
Esparza, 86, who was born and still lives in East L.A, has devoted most of her life to creating alters. She learned many of her craft skills from her mother in Mexico and in return has passed on these traditions to her nine children. For Esparza, alter making is more than just a form of expression but an obligation that has made its way through multiple generations to honor loved ones who are now gone.
While Esparza has never met her great-great-grandmother, she knows of her through years of alter-making. Without this craft being passed down through multiple generations, she says she might have never known much about her and credits this tradition for intimately connecting her.
“My mother passed this on to me at a very young age and it always stuck with me that I have to carry on these traditions because if we don’t then who will,” Esparza said.
Using an array of photos, candles and vibrant carnations, Esparza’s alters stand out for their use of giant multilevel structures. The alters range from personal, political and even spiritual. Her work has garnered her many awards including just last year when she was recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) as a 2018 National Heritage Fellow.
“I’m touched that people look at my work and want to learn more about this. It goes beyond just Día De Los Muertos but celebrating and honoring those who have past,” Esparza said. “To me that’s the biggest honor, being able to teach people about what alter making is really about.”
Esparza has followed through with many of the traditions her mother taught her at a young age and continues to pass this on. In her 40s, she became a school teacher where she included Mexican culture into her curriculum, including Dia de Los Muertos celebrations. This has included speaking at schools, museums, community centers, prisons, and parks throughout LA county and across the country.
Her expertise and passion for alters led Esparza to be a cultural consultant for “Coco.” Many of the scenes, including the famous flower bridge, were ideas that came from her.
Esparza was approached by Disney and Pixar to be a cultural consultant for the Oscar-winning film. She says that many details and scenes seen throughout the movie came from some of her feedback including the famous marigold bridge scene where ancestors cross over into the land of the living on the Day of the Dead.
“I gave them a lot of feedback on certain things including what the bridge that connects the two worlds of the living and the dead represents,” Esparza said. “It was incredible to see that come to life and for people to resonate with that message of crossing over into two worlds.”
When asked about the popularity of the film and what it means for new generations to learn about Día de Los Muertos, she says it makes her happy and only asks of one thing.
“I want people to know that Día de Los Muertos is more than just putting on some skull paint but a true honoring of those who are no longer with us.”
In 1973, Marlon Brando famously declined his Oscar for his role in “The Godfather,” to take a stance against Hollywood’s treatment of Native Americans. Actor and activist, Sacheen Littlefeather famously went on stage to refuse the award on Brando’s behalf at the ceremony. It’s only taken a mere 46 years since that day, but this year, a Native American actor finally received the recognition he deserves and was awarded an Oscar for his talent.
Hollywood’s complicated relationship with Native Americans goes back to the industry’s earliest movies set in the Wild West.
Nearly 50 years ago, Marlon Brando decided to make good use of his privileged position to decline the Academy Award as a way to protest the mistreatment of Native American actors in the film industry. When Sacheen Littlefeather came to deliver the speech, she told the listeners of the program about the racially-based aggression she experienced including how actor John Wayne was held back by security because he was outraged by Littlefeather.
It only took Hollywood nearly 50 years, but this weekend, the Academy finally recognized the first Native American actor with an award.
During Sunday’s Governors Awards, a special ceremony that hands out honorary Oscars for lifetime achievement and humanitarian causes, the Native American actor and Vietnam war veteran was given an honorary award for career achievement.
Wes Studi’s career has spanned nearly 30 years and it hasn’t always been easy.
Studi, a Vietnam War veteran who was an advocate for Native American issues before he pursued a career as an actor, first appeared in a small role in Kevin Costner’s “Dances With Wolves,” but made a searing impression as the villain Magua in Michael Mann’s 1992 epic “The Last of the Mohicans.” His casting as the leading character in Walter Hill’s “Geronimo: An American Legend”(1993) was a milestone for Hollywood —some studios at the time demanded that Hill cast a white actor in the lead role.
Though Studi was featured in many films, he had never been nominated for an award over the course of his career.
Though Studi has featured in many projects centered on Native American history (“Into the West,” “The New World,” “Hostiles”), he has also been one of Hollywood’s most reliable and memorable character actors for a generation, with a varied portfolio of work, including a role as a grizzled cop in “Heat” (1995), a mysterious superhero in “Mystery Men”(1999), and an alien patriarch in “Avatar”(2009). Studi, who this weekend became the first Native American actor to win an Oscar, had never even been nominated over the course of his long career.
Christian Bale, who presented Studi with the award, put a finer point on the issue and called out all the people in the room.
“Too few opportunities in film have gone to Native or indigenous artists, and we’re a room full of people who can change that,” said Christian Bale, Studi’s Hostiles co-star, who presented him with the Oscar. “I’d simply like to say, it’s about time,” said Studi, who delivered much of his speech in Cherokee. “It’s been a wild and wonderful ride, and I’m really proud to be here tonight as the first indigenous Native American to receive an Academy Award. It’s a humbling honor to receive an award for something I love to do.”
The Governor Awards were ideated as a standalone ceremony —separate from the Oscars, to create a free space for winners and presenters to speak and be celebrated with no time restraints.
The honorary Oscar used to be given out as part of the main ceremony. It was a stately portion of the broadcast that required a long introduction, a grand video montage of the honoree’s work, and usually a rambling speech from the winner. In 2009, concerns about long-running times led to the creation of the Governors Awards, a non-televised ceremony held at the Grand Ballroom of the Hollywood and Highland Center.
Taking the special awards out of the hugely televised ceremony —and the hands of aggrieved network-TV executives— has actually been a benefit for the Oscars, lending the Governors Awards their own atmosphere of genuine acclaim where the winners and presenters can speak a little more candidly and without commercially motivated time restrictions.
Meanwhile, fellow honorees Lina Wertmüller and Geena Davis called for gender parity in Hollywood.
“She would like to change the Oscar to a feminine name,” Isabella Rossellini said, translating Italian director Lina Wertmüller’s acceptance speech for her honorary Oscar. “She would like to call it ‘Anna.’ Women in the room, please scream, ‘We want Anna, a female Oscar!’”
Wertmüller’s speech was the capstone of a night devoted to upending some of Hollywood’s most exclusionary traditions and celebrating some of its outsiders. Not only was Studi the first Native American to be recognized by the Academy, but Lina Wertmüller became the first woman ever to receive a best director Oscar nomination when she was recognized for 1976’s Seven Beauties.
“How do you correct centuries of patriarchal domination?” the screenwriter, producer, and director, Jane Campion asked. “It started with Lina Wertmüller.”
Campion, together with Little Women director Greta Gerwig, spoke on the history of women nominated for best director by the Academy. “It’s a very short history, more of a haiku,” Campion said, noting that 350 men have been nominated for best director, versus five for women —including herself and Gerwig, who called Wertmüller “a godmother to us all.”
‘Thelma and Louise’ star Geena Davis called out the industry on the very few opportunities of empowerment given to women.
Also during the black-tie dinner, Geena Davis, became the 39th recipient of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, which celebrates “outstanding contributions to humanitarian causes” for building upon her acting career in films like “The Accidental Tourist,” “Beetlejuice,” “Thelma & Louise,” and “A League of Their Own” to become an advocate for gender equality in media.
Davis delivered a version of the gender-parity pitch she has made in recent years, speaking this time to the industry group gathered in the Dolby Ballroom. “Thelma and Louise made me realize how few opportunities we give women to come out of a movie feeling excited and empowered by the female characters,” Davis said. “The message we are sending is that men and boys are far more valuable to us than women and girls. Whatever you’re working on right now, boost the number of female characters…and then, cast me!”
Each year there is a lot of debate over who should receive these Honorary Oscars, as well as the Hersholt and the Irving J. Thalberg Memorial Award (which was not given this year). Governors come prepared to the meeting to advocate for their choices and a well-researched and delivered presentation can make a big difference. Afterward, candidates must receive a certain threshold of votes. No matter the process, one can’t argue that the achievements of this group of filmmakers meet the criteria of what appeared to be the prevailing sentiment at the Governors Awards—that the event was a chance to right past wrongs, to fill in the many gaps of Academy history, and all we can say is; at long last.