Should the Oscars stay away from politics? It’s a question that pundits raise every year. But in 2019, when the Best Picture nominees included multiple films about racism (including BlacKkKlansman and winner Green Book) and one film literally all about politics (Vice), it seemed like the Oscars and politics were more entwined than ever.
During the show, Maya Rudolph joked that “Mexico is not paying for the wall,” while Javier Bardem (“There are no borders or walls that can restrain ingenuity or talent,” he said in Spanish) and Spike Lee (who gave an impassioned plea to vote out the current administration) didn’t hold back.
Meanwhile, on the red carpet, Yahoo Entertainment asked the stars how they feel about politics casting a shadow — or perhaps a spotlight — on Hollywood’s biggest night. Watch the video above.
Asked about whether politics belongs at the Oscars, The Hate U Give star Amandla Stenberg told Yahoo Entertainment, “It definitely belongs here, because this place has a lot of power. … The media affects minds.”
“We’re at a very, very political time in our country … so there’s no way of taking that out of it,” presenter David Oyelowo said. “But the great thing is that we’ve also had some amazing, amazing films.”
Presenter Diego Luna also saw a connection between film and political change. “Politics belong to everything,” he told Yahoo. “We have to shape our reality because things are getting out of control. And cinema is about that. Cinema is about raising questions.”
BlacKkKlansman screenwriter Kevin Willmott (who took home the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, shared with Spike Lee) noted that the Oscars have always had a political element, naming Sidney Poitier’s 1964 Best Actor win for Lilies of the Field as an example. “When Sidney Poitier won, it was political, because an African-American man had never won before, so it was a real breakthrough,” he said. “And so I think with anything that’s important in American society, there’s always a little streak of politics that runs through it.”
Added Black-ish star Jenifer Lewis, “We can never be too political with what’s going on in this country. Are we clear, ladies and gentlemen?”
Read more from Yahoo Entertainment: