Six Important Issues Oscar Winners Addressed In Speeches Last Night

Hollywood has never been shy about expressing its sentiments on politically charged issues.

Last night's Academy Awards was certainly no exception.

In fact, one might say this was one of the most political Oscars ever, with numerous celebrities taking stands on a wide number of issues.

Even before the actual ceremony began, Reese Witherspoon used the Oscars as a means of promoting the #AskHerMore campaign. This movement calls for reporters to ask female celebrities more than, "Who are you wearing tonight?."

Instead, it encourages them to ask women about the issues and projects they are passionate about.

And while many of his jokes fell flat, host Neil Patrick Harris started the show off by taking aim at the lack of diversity among nominees:

Neal Patrick Harris: "Tonight we honor the best and whitest....sorry, brightest" #Oscars — Michael Skolnik (@MichaelSkolnik) February 23, 2015

Indeed, there was no shortage of references to important political and social issues, and it was during many of the acceptance speeches this was most apparent.

Here are the important issues covered in last night's Oscar Speeches.

Civil Rights and Incarceration Rates

John Legend and Common won the Oscar for Best Original Song for "Glory," written for the movie "Selma."

They used the opportunity to highlight the fact that we are still fighting to establish a more equitable and just society.

Common and Legend's comments couldn't have been more pertinent, particularly given the events of the past year surrounding Ferguson and Eric Garner.

Everything Legend said is absolutely true. Thus, it's apparent that, while we've come a long way as a society, we still have a long way to go.

Gender Pay Gap

Patricia Arquette won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in "Boyhood." She used her acceptance speech to highlight the fact that women still don't receive equal pay or treatment in the United States.

On average, women make about 78 percent of what men make when working similar jobs; the gender pay gap is very real, and it's still a big problem.

Government Surveillance

"Citizenfour" won the award for Best Documentary Feature. It focuses on the revelations surrounding the NSA and government surveillance brought forth by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

While accepting the award, director Laura Poitras thanked Snowden for his courage. She also acknowledged the bravery of the journalists who take great risks to reveal the government's arguably dubious practices.

In a world where threats are ostensibly invisible and technology dictates much of our existence, government surveillance will undoubtedly continue to be a major issue.


Graham Moore won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for "The Imitation Game."

During his acceptance speech, Moore spoke of a suicide attempt during his teen years and offered words of encouragement to anyone out there who feels ostracized for being different. It was an incredibly brave and inspiring moment.

According to the Center for Disease Control, suicide is the third leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10 and 24.


Julianne Moore won the award for Best Actress for her role in "Still Alice." In the film, Moore portrays a prominent academic struggling with early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

During her acceptance speech, Moore argued we need to pay far more attention to this devastating illness.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, five million Americans suffer from this disease, and someone in the US develops it every 67 seconds.


"Birdman" won the award for Best Picture last night. Director Alejandro González Iñárritu, who is from Mexico, touched on immigration during his acceptance speech.

Immigration has always been a hotbed issue in the United States.

This has been particularly true in recent months following an executive order from President Obama that protects millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation.

Citations: What John Legend said about slavery at the Oscars (Politifact), The Gender Wage Gap Didnt Budge Last Year (Think Progress), Edward Snowden documentary Citizenfour wins Oscar (The Guardian ), Suicide Prevention (CDC), Alzheimers Facts and Figures (Alzheimers Association )