Oscars 2015: Top 7 Political Moments From the Academy Awards

Winners used the stage to talk about equal pay, voting rights and immigration.

BySTACY CHEN, STEPHANIE EBBS, VERONICA STRACQUALURSI
February 23, 2015, 12:33 PM

— -- The year’s biggest night for Hollywood was memorable for the great one-liners from Neil Patrick Harris, the gorgeous gowns and moving musical performances.

But the 87th Academy Awards on Sunday also hit a more serious note as Oscar winners used their acceptance speeches to highlight political issues that were important to them.

Here are a few issues that came up:

1. Wage Equality

Receiving the award for Best Supporting Actress in “Boyhood”, Patricia Arquette used the few moments of her acceptance speech to argue for wage equality.

"We have fought for everybody else's equal rights. It's our time to have wage equality once and for all and women's right for everyone in America," she said.

Arquette also mentioned her work in the developing world, she co-founded an organization called GiveLove in 2010 to bring sanitary facilities to camps after the earthquake in Haiti.

2. Edward Snowden

The best documentary winner “Citizenfour” chronicles the interaction between former reporter for The Guardian Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden, who released thousands of classified documents about National Security Administration surveillance.

Snowden has been called both a hero and a traitor for bringing attention to NSA programs. He faces charges from the U.S. government and is now living in Moscow.

The director thanked Snowden in the acceptance speech,“The disclosures that Edward Snowden reveals don’t only expose a threat to privacy, but to democracy itself. Thank you to Edward Snowden and to the many other whistleblowers.”

Harris poked fun at the situation, saying that the subject of the documentary “could not be here for some treason.”

Snowden released a statement reacting to the win through the American Civil Liberties Union.

“When Laura Poitras asked me if she could film our encounters, I was extremely reluctant. I’m grateful that I allowed her to persuade me. The result is a brave and brilliant film that deserves the honor and recognition it has received. My hope is that this award will encourage more people to see the film and be inspired by its message that ordinary citizens, working together, can change the world.”

3. Equal Rights/Voting rights/Incarceration

After a stirring performance of “Glory” that received a standing ovation, rapper Common and singer John Legend accepted the Oscar for Best Original Song.

"The spirit of this bridge transcends race, gender, religion, sexual orientation and social status,” Common said, referring to the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where police attacked civil rights demonstrators marching to Montgomery in 1965. “The spirit of this bridge connects the kid from the southside of Chicago dreaming of a better life, to those in France standing up for their freedom of expression, to the people of Hong Kong protesting for democracy, this bridge was built on hope. “

“We wrote this song for a film that was based on events that were 50 years ago, But we say that Selma is now because the struggle for justice is right now. We know that the voting rights act that they fought for fifty years ago is being compromised right now…” Legend added. “We live in the the most incarcerated country in the world. There are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850.”

4. Immigration

"I want to dedicate this award for my fellow Mexicans,” Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, while receiving the Best Film award for “Birdman.”

Inarritu, who also received the award for Best Director earlier that night, said he prayed the “latest generation of immigrants ... be treated with the same dignity and respect of the ones who came before and built this incredible immigrant nation.”

But it was actor Sean Penn's introduction that sparked the most buzz on social media.

"Who gave this son of a bitch his green card?" Penn said.

Inarritu said Penn’s joke was “hilarious” and wasn't offended by it because the two are friends, but others were not laughing about it.

5. Veteran Suicide

Producer Dana Perry gave an inspiring speech when accepting the Best Documentary Short Subject for “Crisis Hotline: Veteran’s Press 1.” Perry said we should talk about suicide “out loud” as dedicated the award to her son Evan Perry, who committed suicide at age 15.

Both director Ellen Goosenberg Kent and producer Dana Perry thanked those who answered the crisis line and veterans and their families “who are brave enough to ask for help.”

After the speech, Perry spoke further about suicide awareness backstage, and insisted that the best way to prevent suicides is to have an open discussion about it and “not trying sweep it under the rug.”

6. LGBT Rights/Suicide Awareness

First time nominee Graham Moore took home Best Adapted Screenplay for the "Imitation Game" on Sunday night.

The movie tells a thrilling story of Alan Turing, the heroic mathematician who cracked the Nazi code during World War II, but was later prosecuted under Britain’s anti-gay laws.

Moore’s moving acceptance speech related his own story to that of Turing’s when he revealed his attempted suicide when he was just 16 years old. He dedicated his winning moment for “that kid out there who feels like she’s weird or she’s different or she doesn’t fit in anywhere” and urged everyone to “stay weird, stay different.”

His message of love and hope earned a standing ovation from the audience, and captured the world’s attention by shedding light on teenage suicide and depression.

7. Politics of the Red Carpet

The political statements weren't only on stage, the red carpet was a subject of dispute when actresses pushed reporters to ask about more than the classic “Who are you wearing?” The hashtag #AskHerMore was shared by actresses like Amy Poehler, through her Smart Girls organization, and Reese Witherspoon throughout the night.

Reese Witherspoon posted a photo to her Instagram account as part of the #AskHerMore campaign.

The Ready for Hillary PAC even joined in, hinting at speculation that the former Secretary of State will run for president in 2016.

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