Killers of the Flower Moon star Lily Gladstone

Lily Gladstone's Oscars snub is another reminder that only two WOC have ever won Best Lead Actress

That's not to say that Emma Stone's Poor Things performance wasn't Oscar-worthy, but rather that it's hard to ignore what Gladstone winning would have signified for Indigenous representation.

Entertainment, escapism and enduring commentary. Cinema is about a lot of things, but at its core it has always been a platform to offer thought-provoking storytelling about the human condition.

In tuning into the Oscars, I noticed humanity and diverse perspectives were central to some elements of the 2024 Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles (Da'Vine Joy's beautiful acceptance speech and stars wearing red #Artists4Ceasefire pins), but there were also moments that were somewhat disappointing. One of those most talked-about moments was arguably Lily Gladstone losing the Best Lead Actress category to Emma Stone.

Lily Gladstone snubbed, Emma Stone wins

Lily Gladstone had made Oscars history when she became the first Native American women to be nominated for Best Lead Actress. The 37-year-old had landed the nomination for her portrayal of Mollie Burkhart in Martin Scorsese's Killers of the Flower Moon. However on Oscars night, she lost to Emma Stone from Poor Things.

Let's remember, only two women of colour have ever won the award for Best Lead Actress – Halle Berry for Monster's Ball in 2002, and Michelle Yeoh for Everything, Everywhere All at Once in 2023. After a phenomenal awards season run where she had won at the Golden Globes and SAG Awards, Gladstone was tipped as a frontrunner for the Oscars.

It's not to say that Stone's stellar performance in Poor Things – in which she plays Bella Baxter who has a child’s brain implanted into her adult body – is not Oscar-worthy, but rather that it's hard to ignore what Gladstone winning this award would have signified for Indigenous representation.

So often women of colour are held to higher standards in Hollywood – doing the heavy lifting to advocate for representation, taking on nuanced roles to entertain and educate. But not necessarily receiving the accolades that go with it. I also wonder, will the likes of Emma Stone (who also won the same Academy Award for La La Land in 2017) have a greater chance of returning to the Oscars stage in the future? Are Native actors like Gladstone necessarily guaranteed the same?

Penny Flanagan, an Anishinaabekwe woman, wrote on Twitter: "Lily Gladstone, you already won.

"You bring all of us into every room you enter. We see ourselves in you every day - thank you for taking us along on this journey with you. We can dream bigger than we ever thought because of you. Chi miigwech."

When her nomination was announced in January, Gladstone highlighted that her nomination belonged not just to her, but the entire Osage Nation, the Blackfeet Nation, and the Nez Perce Nation. She also claimed that in being the the first Native American woman nominated for the category, she was "not going to be the last, not by a long shot."

"I always say this, but it’s not fully mine. It belongs to so many people: the Osage Nation, the Blackfeet Nation, the Nez Perce Nation, every Indigenous actor whose shoulders I stand on," she told Entertainment Weekly.

"It's circumstantial that I’m the first, and I’m so very grateful. I just know that I’m not going to be the last, not by a long shot."

Gladstone's stunning red carpet look at the Oscars paid tribute to Indigenous design. She wore a blue velvet gown designed by Gucci creative director Sabato De Sarno and Indigenous artist Joe Big Mountain, featuring quillwork details inspired by Native American artistry.

"Quillwork reflects the longest legacy of living craftsmanship in my corner of Indian Country,” Gladstone told Vogue. “It is hugely culturally significant to so many nations, Blackfeet included."

Earlier in the night, Osage composer Scott George led a performance with the Osage Tribal Singers of Wahzhazhe (A Song for My People), which was his nominated song from Killers of the Flower Moon.

Da'Vine Joy Randolph's emotional Oscars speech

The first award of the night went to Da'Vine Joy Randolph.

The 37-year-old was named best supporting actress for her performance in The Holdovers, in which she portrays Mary Lamb, a cafeteria manager at a New England prep school in the 1970s.

Teary-eyed as she delivered an emotional acceptance speech, Randolph shared that she didn't always believe she was cut out to be an actor.

“For so long I have always wanted to be different. And I now I realise I just needed to be myself, and I thank you for seeing me,” she told the audience.

“I didn’t think I was supposed to be doing this as a career, I started off as a singer, and my mother said to me, go across that street to that theatre department, there’s something for you there.

“And I thank my mother for doing that, I thank all those people who have been there for me, ushered and guided me, I am so grateful to you beautiful people out there.”

Randolph, who has also picked up gongs this awards season at the Golden Globes SAG Awards and BAFTAs, was nominated in this category alongside a stellar lineup of women including Emily Blunt (Oppenheimer), America Ferrera (Barbie), Danielle Brooks (The Color Purple) and Jodie Foster (Nyad).

Stars wear red pins in support of ceasefire

Hollywood awards shows are known to be an opportunity for celebrities to make a social or political statement. The likes of Billie Eilish, Ava DuVernay, Ramy Youssef, Mark Ruffalo and more stars took a stance in support of a ceasefire in Gaza, by wearing red Artists4Ceasefire pins attached to their outfits at the Oscars.

“The pin symbolises collective support for an immediate and permanent ceasefire, the release of all of the hostages and for the urgent delivery of humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza,” Artists4Ceasefire wrote in a press release.

Artists4Ceasefire is a group of actors, filmmakers, musicians and entertainment industry members who wrote an open letter to US President Joe Biden demanding a ceasefire.

“Beyond our pain and mourning for all of the people there and their loved ones around the world we are motivated by an unbending will to stand for our common humanity. We stand for freedom, justice, dignity and peace for all people – and a deep desire to stop more bloodshed,” reads part of the letter.

Meanwhile later on stage, Zone Of Interest director and writer Jonathan Glazer addressed the conflict while accepting the award for Best International Feature.

“Our film shows where dehumanisation leads at its worst. It’s shaped all of our past and present. Right now we stand here as men who refute their Jewishness in a holocaust being hijacked by an occupation which has led to conflict for so many innocent people," he said.

“Whether the victims of October the 7th in Israel or the ongoing attack on Gaza — all the victims of this dehumanisation, how do we resist?”