Emma Stone won the best Actress award for her sprightly performance in Damien Chazelle's 'La La Land,' while Casey Affleck went on to win the Best Actor Oscar for his intensely brooding performance in director Kenneth Lonergan's 'Manchester by the Sea.'
The 89th Academy Awards that was held in Dolby theatre was a refreshing season of Oscar ceremony in many years. Not only there was good diversity among the nominees and winners, it appeared that the youth were given their much needed inspiration this year. Veterans like Meryl Streep, Natalie portman, Ruth Negga and Isabelle Hupert cheered on the talented Emma Stone as she received her first Oscar for 'La La Land.'
Many felt Hupert deserved to win for her moving portrayal of a rape victim who plots revenge. It was also director Paul Verhoeven's first feature in French language. She had won the Golden Globe and César Award from France but ultimately had to make way for the younger generation of female actors like Stone.
On the other side, it was Viggo Mortensen and Denzel Washington, with their stunning performances for 'Fences' and 'Captain Fantastic' sat and clapped for Casey Affleck as he went up to the stage to pick up his golden statuette.
Casey Affleck's nomination and win were of course controversial, after two women who worked with him, a producer and a cinematographer, had filed lawsuits accusing him of sexual harassment. As pointed out in a Mashable article, Casey Affleck was accused of harassing and making unwelcome advances towards the two female colleagues while working on Joaquin Phoenix's docu-farce 'I'm Still Here.' One of the women said Affleck had snuck into her bed while she was sleeping and started taking advantage of her before she woke up.
Actor and director Nate Parker also had similar charges against him and his rape accuser, a young woman committed suicide. However, his film 'The Birth of a Nation' didn't get a single nomination after all the Oscars buzz. Even though Parker was accused of rape, and Affleck of sexual advances, it might seem extreme that one was thrown out by the Academy and the other was given Best Actor Oscar. The winner here is a white American male and the loser is a Black African American actor. One might be inclined to spot racial discrimination by the Academy voters, when clearly, both of them had been accused of crimes against women.
Anyway, there's no denying that the performances of the leading actors, especially Emma Stone, who has been on a gradual rise up the Hollywood ladder, with some notable performances in 'Birdman' and now 'La La Land.'
Currently in production is 'Battle of the Sexes' where Stone portrays former World No. 1 American professional tennis player Billie Jean King and then she takes over from Glenn Close as Cruella de Vil in the feature 'Cruella,' based on the '101 Dalmatians' antagonist.