Would you believe us if we told you these were most Latino Oscars? Yes, no Latino actors made the cut (that hasn’t happened since Demian Bichir’s nomination back in 2012). And yes, Guillermo del Toro‘s Best Picture winner The Shape of Water, which ended up winning four Oscars, featured a mostly American cast. But in between the wins for the Mexican director, a big night for Pixar’s Day of the Dead flick, a surprise Foreign Language Film winner, and the presence of actors like Rita Moreno, Gina Rodriguez, Eiza González, and Salma Hayek, among others, the 90th edition of the Academy Awards truly felt like a celebration of everything Latino. Or, as Oscar Isaac put it while handing out one award: “Viva Latinoamérica!”
Here’s hoping that sentiment extends to the 91st Oscars when hopefully we’ll see more Latinos both in front and behind the camera getting recognized for their stellar work in movies about Latinos. Just as the success of Black Panther, Get Out, Wonder Woman and Lady Bird kept being touted as success, there are those of us still waiting for a full-blown Latino Hollywood moment at that level. If nothing else, seeing the likes of Mexican-American Adrian Molina, Chilean Sebastian Lelio and Del Toro holding Oscars should be encouragement enough to inspire more Latinos here and abroad to follow their dreams. As the Pan’s Labyrinth director put it while accepting the Best Picture award, “Everyone that is dreaming of a parable, of using genre and fantasy to tell the stories about the things that are real in the world today: you can do it. This is a door, kick it open and come in!”
While there was nothing quite like the envelope mixup that made last year’s telecast one for the history books, 2018’s Oscars nevertheless delivered several moments worth highlighting for those who didn’t felt like suffering through what ended up being a nearly four-hour ceremony! Here are the Latino moments from the night.
Eugenio Derbez Gets a Dig at the Wall Introducing 'Coco' Song
Who better to intro the performance of “Remember Me” than Mexican box office superstar Eugenio Derbez? The Instructions Not Included actor couldn’t help framing the story of a young boy set in the Día de Muertos celebrations a commentary on the cruel immigration policies we’ve seen been exacerbated this past year. Miguel’s able to be reunited with his family in the Land of the Dead, “because, you know,” he deadpanned, “in the afterlife, there are no walls.”
"Remember Me" Recreates Ernesto de la Cruz's Stage Production
The musical number for Oscar-winning “Remember Me” from Pixar’s Coco had everything: a soulful Gael García Bernal channeling his inner Hector to sing the tear-inducing song accompanied by an all-too-recognizable white guitar, a luminous Natalia Lafourcade and a suave Miguel rocking a bilingual version of the song, dancers in charro suits, neon skull decorations, and even the staircase-and-bell combo that proved deadly to Miguel’s most beloved hero, Ernesto de la Cruz. It truly felt like the movie come to life and yes, we couldn’t help but tear up remembering Mamá Coco at the end of the film.
'Coco' Goes Two-For-Two: "Viva Mexico!"
We’ve been bawling over Coco for the past several months, praising it for its authenticity and its big-hearted story centered on family. That’s why it was a joy to see the Academy recognize it as the year’s Best Animated Feature. Moreover, it was great to see both producer Darla K. Anderson thank her wife, co-director Adrian Molina thank his husband (and the Latino community!) and director Lee Unkrich point out why the film’s message is so important: “With Coco we tried to take a step forward toward a world where all children can grow up seeing characters in movies that look and talk land live like they do. Marginalized people deserve to feel like they belong. Representation matters.” Oh, and as if that wasn’t enough, the Coco team was handed another Oscar for “Remember Me” — from none other than Lin Manuel Miranda himself. We’ll just quote Anthony Gonzalez, who voiced Miguel: “Viva Mexico!”
Rita Moreno Is A Flawless Queen, Wears Her 1962 Oscar Gown
Proving that she may well be One Day at a Time‘s Lydia in real life, Oscar-winning legend Rita Moreno opted to wear the same dress she wore back in 1962. Oh, and she was feeling her look, showing it off proudly on the red carpet—and wouldn’t you? We wish we could still slink into dresses that have been in our closets for more than 5 decades.
Better yet, when she was introduced she hid the envelope of the category she was presenting in the bust of her dress, struck a pose like a fabulous drama queen, danced her way to the mic and then quoted her mami (“Oh ma goodneys grayshuus”) when seeing the applause and appreciation she was getting from the audience. Now, that’s a legend right there.
Guillermo del Toro Celebrates His Immigrant Roots
After Guillermo del Toro’s win for Best Director, it became official: a Mexican has won that category 4 out of the last 5 years. Actually, if you want to see how global the category truly is, know that in the last decade, Americans have taken the gold only twice! It’s no surprise, then, that the man behind The Shape of Water (which later went on to win Best Picture) made a point of talking about his immigrant status as soon as he got to the podium. He even went further, talking about what truly makes cinema a language-breaking art form.
'A Fantastic Woman' Wows
As soon as we heard Rita Moreno cackle upon opening the envelope, we knew we were in for good news. Having only been the second ever Chilean film nominated for this award (following Pablo Larraín’s No), Sebastian Lelio’s A Fantastic Woman won the category, beating films from Russia, Lebanon, Hungary, and Sweden. Celebrating the inspiration behind his film, leading lady Daniela Vega, Lelio made a point of discussing the importance of having cast a trans actress for the role of Marina Vidal. “She transitioned 14 years ago in a country like Chile, when there was no information about it. She was a pioneer, and she carries that history. And the camera knows that.” As if that wasn’t enough, Vega herself made history when she introduced Best Original Song nominee “Mystery of Love” from the LGBT film Call Me By Your Name—becoming the first ever trans Oscar presenter. And looking fabulous while doing so, of course.
Salma Hayek in Full Activist Mode
After her chant of “Time’s Up” at the Golden Globes, and her quip at the Film Independent Spirit Awards that “there are NO shithole countries,” we knew Salma was going to yet again bring awareness while being on the Oscar stage. Alongside Ashley Judd and Annabella Sciorra, she introduced a clip titled “New Voices” that celebrated, as she put it, “to those unstoppable spirits who kicked ass and broke through the biased perceptions against their gender, their race and ethnicity to tell their stories.” Featuring the likes of Barry Jenkins (Moonlight), Ava DuVernay (A Wrinkle in Time) and trans director Yance Ford (Strong Island) as well as Hayek herself, the reel touched on how movies like Wonder Woman, Black Panther, Beatriz at Dinner, A Fantastic Woman and Lady Bird among others are changing the status quo and letting other people who aren’t straight white guys tell their stories.
Lupita Nyong'o and Kumail Nanjiani Honor DREAMers
While presenting Best Production Design (which went to Del Toro’s Shape of Water, FYI), Star Wars star Lupita Nyong’o and Silicon Valley‘s Kumail Nanjiani celebrated their own immigrant past and reminded everyone what’s at the heart of the American Dream. “Like everyone in this room,” she said, “And like everyone watching at home, we are dreamers. We grew up dreaming of one day working in the movies. Dreams are the foundation of Hollywood. And they are the foundation of America.” It was a not-so-subtle jab at those who’ve come to demonize DACA recipients by telling them, hilariously, to “go back to your country.”