Triumph and Drama: Black Highlights and More From the 96th Academy Awards

By Rashad Alexander

The 96th Academy Awards took place Sunday night at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, with Jimmy Kimmel serving as the host for the fourth time since 2017. The late-night host and comedian had a rough start to the night, receiving heavy criticism for his opening monologue and his jokes throughout.


Nonetheless, the 2023 biographical film Oppenheimer dominated the night. Christopher Nolan’s film won seven of its 13 nominations, including wins in the Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor categories, thanks to Cillian Murphy.

One of the most notable moments of the evening was Da’Vine Joy Randolph’s acceptance speech. She earned the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Mary Lamb in “The Holdovers.”

The 37-year-old became the tenth Black woman ever to win the Best Supporting Actress Oscar.

“For so long, I’ve always wanted to be different. And now I realize I just need to be myself,” Randolph said after accepting her award. 


Randolph, in her first-ever nomination, beat out Emily Blunt (“Oppenheimer”), Danielle Brooks (“The Color Purple”), America Ferrera (“Barbie”), and Jodie Foster (“Nyad”). 

The evening also saw “American Fiction” filmmaker Cord Jefferson win the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. The film is based on the 2001 novel “Erasure” by Percival Everett. The plot revolves around a professor who writes satire of stereotypical Black books to prove how the media tries to profit off Black pain.

In his acceptance speech, Jefferson discussed the idea of Hollywood producing more movies with smaller budgets as an acceptable path toward profitability. “American Fiction” reportedly had a budget of less than $10 million and still won an Oscar.


“I understand that this is a risk-averse industry, but $200 million movies are also a risk. But you take the risk anyway. Instead of making one $200 million movie, make 20 $10-million movies or 50 $4-million movies,” Jefferson said.

Jefferson was the first Black director to win in this category since John Ridley did in 2013 for the film “12 Years a Slave.” 

Alongside Ryan Gosling’s memorable “I’m Just Ken” performance for the Barbie song, Grammy winner Jon Batiste performed his Oscar-nominated song “It Never Went Away” from the film “American Symphony.” Other performers included Billie Eilish, Becky G, Scott George and the Osage Singers and Finneas O’Connell.

As far as snubs go, people on social media were up in arms over the winner for the Best Animated Feature. “Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse,” which earned nearly $700 Million at the box office, should have won instead of “The Boy And The Heron.”


Shameik Moore, the voice of Miles Morales/Spider-man in the film, sounded off on X when the results were announced after writing a previous post where he said that “Spider-Man” got robbed.


You can visit the Academy Awards website for the full list of winners and nominees.


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