“Inclusion rider”—that’s how Frances McDormand ended her acceptance speech for her Best Actress win at Sunday’s 90th Academy Awards. The term isn’t well known but refers to an actor saying the cast and crew need to be diverse before they agree to take the job, according to Dr. Philip Goff, President of The Center for Policing Equity. He further clarified that an inclusion rider is essentially saying, “If you won’t commit to inclusion, I won’t take your money.” McDormand, who won for her work in Three Bilboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, was basically throwing down a challenge to her peers, perhaps especially to some of the big name talent that Hollywood execs are always desperate to have.
McDormand’s straightforward and bold suggestion is especially relevant when considering this year’s list of winners. As with many past years, the winner’s circle is predominantly white. Gary Oldman won Best Actor, beating out Daniel Kaluuya and Denzel Washington, among others. Best Supporting Actor went to San Rockwell. Allison Janney took home the Oscar for Best Supportimg Actress, besting Mary J. Blige, who reportedly paid more than she made on Mudbound.
Best Director went to Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro for the film that took home the night’s top prize,The Shape of Water. Coco won Best Animated Feature Film.
One exciting win was Jordan Peele getting the statue for Best Original Screenplay. Get Out deserved to win something and Peele getting the nod for writing it helped mitigate somewhat the disappointment of the Best Actor and Best Picture losses for the movie.
The Guardian described this year’s Oscars as a “celebration and exhortation of representation and inclusion.” The first Academy Awards since the Weinstein scandal, the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements were front and center. Women, immigrant rights, and diversity in general were important topics, in speeches and in Jimmy Kimmel’s monologue.
In addition to Peele, one other notable African-American talent took home a trophy, though not without some controversy. Retired NBA star Kobe Bryant accepted an Oscar for Dear Basketball, the animated short film about his retirement from the NBA which he produced and wrote. Bryant was accused of sexual assault in 2003. This story came to light again this year as part of the reckoning around issues of sexual misconduct. While some found it distasteful to see Bryant win on a night that celebrated the #MeToo movement, he did make a strong statement. Referencing Laura Ingraham’s comments about LeBron James, he said: “As basketball players we’re really supposed to shut up and dribble. I’m glad we’re doing much more than that.”