story by: Yol-Itzma Aguirre
This past Sunday, The Oscars went on without a host, ironically ratings were at a new record high, this could be due to the fact that although the #OscarsStillSoWhite there was a tiny smidge of more inclusivity in nominations and more people tuned in.
Early on in the night we saw another win for Best Animated Feature for Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. Producer and co-Writer, Philip Lord (Cuban American), helped bring to life Miles Morales, the first Afro-Latino Spider-Man. The character of Miles is African-American and Puerto Rican, from New York. Lord stayed strong in his desire to have Spanish written into the film and did not want subtitles because he wanted it to be a true reflection of how most Latinos grow up, with the same sounds and language fluidity. We’ll take it as a double Oscar win, from writer and character.
This makes it a third win in this category for the Latinx community. In 2016 Mexican-American Jonas Rivera, producer of Inside Out became the first Latino win the Oscar in this category. The next Oscar win was followed by Adrian Molina, co-director and writer of Coco who becomes the second Latino and a first for LGBTQ Latinx to win the award.
We want to also recognize rising Latino star, Ismael Enrique Cruz Córdova (Puerto Rican) – who was cast as Rizzo – an important historical figure and appears in Mary, Queen of Scots was also nominated for an Oscar.
We all sat glued to the TV screen, super stoked for ROMA the Alfonso Cuarón film starring breakout actress, Yalitza Aparicio. ROMA was up for 10 nominations, including a historic first as Yalitza became the first Indigenous person, Indigenous Mexicana to be nominated.
Her Best Actress nomination broke barriers against generations of discrimination, colonization and colorism, not only in the U.S. but in Mexico as well, where lighter skinned Mexican actresses have been petitioning against her since she made Oscar news. Aparicio was the only woman of color even nominated this year and although we were highly disappointed that she did not win the Oscar; the outpouring of love continues and we are excited to follow her journey!
Mexicans, Mexican-Americans and the Latinx community still had plenty to celebrate as Alfonso Cuarón took 3 of the top honors of the night.
One of the greatest achievements for film is Cinematography, the feel of a film, they way it is shot that makes us stay connected long after the movie ends. Over the years Latinos have made great strides in this category starting with the first Latino, Mexicano, Gabriel Figueroa nominated in 1965 for Night of The Iguana.
There would be another 11 nominations in Cinematography – with 5 belonging to visionary Mexican cinematographer William A Fraker – before a Latino would finally win. Of all those nominations, one belong to our very own Texan, Mexican American Cinematographer John A. Alonzo from Dallas, TX. Alonzo was the first U.S. born Latino to be nominated in 1975 for Chinatown. His credits include multiple notable films, such as Norma Rae, Steel Magnolias, Vanishing Point and SCARFACE to name a few.
In 2007 Mexicano, Guillermo Navarro, would become the very first Latino to win the Oscar for Best Cinematography for his work on Pan’s Labyrinth. It would be another 6 years before Latinos saw another win. In 2013 Chilean cinematographer Claudio Miranda, would take the Oscar for his work in Life of Pi.
Famed Mexicano Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubeski was nominated 4 times before he would win his first Oscar in 2014 for Gravity, he would follow up taking the Oscar home again in 2015 and 2016 making him the most winningest winner of all time! He has set a historic record with his three-peat winning streak.
On Sunday, Alfonso Cuarón joined the ranks of these talented Latino Cinematography Oscar winners.
After 2014 – THE FOUR COMPADRES
We want to pay respect to those that paved the way. 1986, Brazilian-Argentinean, Hector Babenco, was the first Latino to be nominated for Best Director for Kiss of The Spider Woman and it was also the first film by a Latino to be nominated for Best Picture.
Four nominations later, in 2014 Alfonso Cuarón broke through the nominations before and became the first Latino, Mexicano, to win the Oscar for Best Director for his film Gravity and Lubeski would also take the Cinematography Oscar for this film, which was also nominated for Best Picture.
The very next year, 2015, good friend, fellow Mexicano, Alejandro González Iñárritu won Best Director for Birdman and also became the first Latino to win the Oscar for Best Picture! The next year he won Best Director again for The Revenant (also nominated for Best Picture). These are the two films that Lubeski worked on and won his Oscars for as well. In 2018 Iñárritu also received a special Achievement Academy Award for his short film, Carne y Arena.
Last year, fellow compañero, Guillermo del Toro joined the club and won Best Director and Best Picture, for his film Shape of Water.
Over the last 5 years, the four compadres continue to dominate Best Director, Best Picture and Best Cinematography and in doing so have made Mexican talent synonymous with Oscar Gold…Mexcellence.
On Sunday ROMA won the coveted Oscar for three of the ten nominations; Best Foreign Language Film and Alfonso Cuarón had a full circle moment winning another gold statue for Best Director, as well as for Best Cinematography, making history as the first time one filmmaker has taken on both roles and won.
While the Oscars still has a long way to go with inclusion of Latinx content, films, actors, etc…we are immensely proud of the success of ROMA and especially Yalitza Aparcio’s historic nomination, what her visibility – both in the movie and in real life – has meant to the world and to our community.
For a list of all the Oscar winners, click here