Mexico, America’s southern neighbor regularly slammed by America’s president, nevertheless got some love from Oscar Sunday night. Again.
And early Monday, President Trump issued a negative tweet against Mexico. Again.
The most prominent winner Sunday night was Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro and his fish-man fantasy love story, , which won four Academy Awards including two of the top Oscars, best picture and best director for del Toro.
The other two awards were for best original score and best production design.
, the hit animated film marinated in Mexico’s unique cultural attitudes towards death and the afterlife, won two Oscars, one for best animated feature and one for best original song, , by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez.
Composers Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, winners of the Best Original Song award for ‘Remember Me’ from ‘Coco,’ during the Academy Awards on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood.
In between, prominent Mexican actors Salma Hayek and Gael García Bernal (who voiced one of the characters in ) appeared on stage at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles to introduce a performance or promote the Time’s Up movement.
Del Toro, 53 and Guadalajara-born, is the third Mexican filmmaker to win the directing Oscar, behind Alfonso Cuarón (in 2014) and Alejandro González Iñárritu (2015, 2016), who is the first Mexican to be nominated for best director three times.
Adrian Molina, from left, Lee Unkrich, and Darla K. Anderson accept the award for best animated feature film for “Coco” at the Oscars on March 4, 2018.
In his acceptance speech, del Toro thanked all the usual people but added a heartfelt tribute to immigrants and their contribution to the universal appeal of cinema.
He told reporters later he was “speaking from my heart.” He didn’t have to use the words wall or border or mention President Trump, who continued his Mexico-bashing tweets Monday, but everybody understood what del Toro was talking about when he reached the stage to claim his Oscar.
“I am an immigrant, like my compadres, Alfonso and Alejandro, like Gael and Salma, and like many of you,” he said. “In the last 25 years I’ve been living in a country (the movie industry) all of our own.
“Part of it is here, part of it is in Europe, part of it is everywhere. I think the greatest thing that our art does and our industry does is erase the line in the sand. We should continue doing that, when the world tells us to make it deeper.”
Backstage, he told reporters how important Oscar wins are for all of Mexico in an era when people feel free to trash a neighbor.
Gael Garcia Bernal at the 90th Annual Academy Awards on March 4, 2018, in Hollywood.
“Every time we can demonstrate in any forum, be it sports, science, art, culture, anywhere, what we have to bring to the world discourse, to the world conversation, is extremely important, and it’s extremely important when we do it to remember where we’re from, because it’s honoring your roots, honoring your country,” del Toro said.
director Lee Unkrich told reporters that when production started on the film six years ago, it was “a very different political climate.”
“While we were making the film, we had a change of presidency and a lot of things started to be said about Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. That was unacceptable,” Unkrich said.
He never mentioned Trump’s name but the reference to the Republican’s 2015 campaign announcement, during which he said Mexican immigrants were criminals, drug dealers and rapists, was unmistakable.
Trump, meanwhile was up early Monday tweeting as usual, this time focused on bashing the NAFTA trade agreement with Canada and Mexico. He also added an accusation that Mexico is sending drugs across the border to addict and kill millions of Americans.
“Mexico must do much more on stopping drugs from pouring into the U.S.,” he tweeted. “They have not done what needs to be done. Millions of people addicted and dying.”
…treat our farmers much better. Highly restrictive. Mexico must do much more on stopping drugs from pouring into the U.S. They have not done what needs to be done. Millions of people addicted and dying.
Mexico was not the only Latin American country to be honored at the Oscars Sunday: Chile’s , a drama about a transgender woman who battles her lover’s family after he dies, won the Oscar for best foreign language film.
About two-thirds of America’s growing Latino population claims Mexican ancestry, but they have been few and far between in Hollywood in the last 90 years. Mexican and Mexican-American actors — and Latino actors in general — are still a rarity at the annual Academy Awards as either nominees or winners.
Only two Mexican-American actors have ever been nominated for acting Oscars, including the most recent, Demián Bichir for in 2012. Before him, Anthony Quinn, who was half Mexican and born in Mexico (real name Antonio Rodolfo Quinn Oaxaca), won two Oscars, in 1953 for , and 1957 for , and was nominated two other times, including for in 1964.
Only a handful of Latina actresses have been nominated, including Mexican-born Hayek, for in 2002. After her, Mexican-born Adriana Barazza was nominated in 2006 for , and in 1954 Mexican-born Katy Jurado became the first Latina ever nominated, for .
(Lupita Nyong’o, who won an Oscar for in 2013, is often listed as Latina because she was born in Mexico but she’s actually Kenyan.)
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