This year’s Academy Awards brought forward gratitude and love for the industry and its spectacular members. It has been a year of change and powerful messages. The Time’s up, Me Too, and Never Again movements have been the centre of talks and outcry for change. Even though we haven’t reached all of our goals, change has been initiated. This year, Rachel Morrison was the first woman nominated for an achievement in cinematography for Mudbound. And Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird) was the first woman to be nominated for achievement in directing for eight years. Even so, we can hope she is to be the first of many, because even with this change, only 11 per cent of directors who are women.

Jimmy Kimmel hosted the Oscars for the second time, and during his monologue he celebrated not only this year’s incredible films that have been created, but also Wonder Woman and Black Panther. ‘I remember a time when major studios didn’t believe a woman or a minority could open a superhero movie. The reason I remember that time is because it was March last year’. History is being made. ‘This year we have a lot to celebrate. Ceilings have been shattered’. We all hope that change and progress will continue, and bring forward equality for all.

Hollywood is still, unfortunately, a male dominated industry, but in the past few years we have seen women do everything possible to achieve equality. Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph exploded with this sentiment during their presentation of the winners for Documentary Short Subject and Live Action Short Film. They said ‘Look where we are now. It was all worth it!’

In the category of Live Action Short Film, the winners are Rachel Shenton (writer and protagonist) and Chris Overton (director) with The Silent Child. Shenton signed her acceptance speech, to keep a promise made to young lead actress Maisie Sly. The story is about a deaf girl who lives in silence until a social worker teaches her how to communicate using sign language. ‘Deafness is a silent disability […] So I want to say the biggest thank you to the Academy for allowing us to put this in front of the mainstream audience’ says Shenton, with a gigantic smile.

Gary Oldman won the Oscar for best performing actor in a leading role (Darkest Hour), and he gave a speech that touched the audience with his heartfelt gratitude to the academy, his friends, his team, but most of all to his wife who has walked with him on this road, and to his ‘99 years young’ mother who has supported him and loved him during this incredible journey.

Frances McDormand won the Oscar for best performing actress in a leading role (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), and she stole the show by showcasing women. She asked all female nominees in every category to stand up. She made it impossible to ignore the strength of women in Hollywood. McDormand ended her speech by calling for ‘Inclusion Riders’. She explains: ‘I just found out about this last week […] You can ask for and/or demand at least 50 per cent diversity not only in the casting but also in the crew’. She does not forget that Hollywood and films are not just made by actors, directors and producers; she knows how much work goes on behind the flash of the paparazzi, behind the screens we all love.

And when diversity is called upon and celebrated, it answers back. Lupita Nyong’o and Kumal Nanjiani, presenting the award for best production design, showed where they stood as immigrants in the industry and delivered a powerful message ‘Dreams are the foundation of Hollywood […] To all the dreamers out there, we stand with you!’

Last, but not least The Shape of Water was nominated for 13 Oscars, and won four. Jimmy Kimmel who accompanied the presentation for best picture winner, joked ‘Thanks to Guillermo Del Toro, we will remember this year as the year men screwed up so badly, women started dating fish!’.

The award for Best Picture went to Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape of Water, and the director dedicated the award to the youth ‘that is showing us how things are done in every country of the world’. He didn’t think he could make it, but he did, and his speech had a resounding message for all the dreamers: ‘I want to tell everyone who is dreaming, you can do it. This is a door. Kick it open and come in!’