Pro-Palestine protesters delay Oscars 2024, demand ‘ceasefire now’

Night concluded with big wins for 'Oppenheimer,' Best Actor trophies for Emma Stone and Cillian Murphy

Entertainment Desk March 11, 2024

In a surprising turn of events at the 2024 Oscars, the fight for a cease-fire in Gaza and an end to the ongoing humanitarian crisis took center stage, both on the red carpet and on the streets of Los Angeles. Pro-Palestine protesters, numbering in the hundreds, disrupted the prestigious event, causing a delay that was not merely a technical glitch.

As reported by the New York Times, the protesters, armed with signs reading “Free Palestine” and chanting slogans like “cease-fire now” and “long live Palestine,” brought traffic to a standstill on Highland Avenue, a major Hollywood thoroughfare. The impassioned group then proceeded down Sunset Boulevard, creating chaos with honking cars and hovering helicopters, while LAPD officers in riot gear monitored the situation closely.

By the time the protest reached the intersection of Sunset and Highland, traffic had been halted for over 20 minutes, causing some high-profile celebrities en route to the Oscars red carpet to find themselves trapped in their Town Cars. Hollywood Reporter noted that attendees took matters into their own hands, with some abandoning their vehicles and walking toward the ceremony. Others were reportedly given rides to the event in golf carts provided by the Academy.

A smaller group of protesters also congregated closer to the Dolby Theatre, where the awards ceremony was unfolding. Anthony Bryson, an organizer of one of the protests, expressed the significance of seizing the global spotlight during the Academy Awards, stating, “With people from across the globe watching the Academy Awards, this is a Hail Mary opportunity. What’s happening in Gaza needs to have attention drawn to it. We wanted to bring as much resistance and visibility as possible.”

Laura Delhauer, a filmmaker participating in the protest, voiced her dismay over the situation, saying, “I’m heartbroken to know that our hard-earned tax dollars are going to pay for the murder of innocent civilians.” She hoped the demonstration would exert pressure on the government to enforce a cease-fire.

Film Workers for Palestine and SAG-AFTRA Members for Ceasefire, the groups behind the protests, took to social media to declare, “There will be no awards amid a genocide,” spreading awareness about their cause.

According to Deadline, Oscars organisers and city officials were aware of the planned protests and had contingency plans in place to ensure the safety and uninterrupted arrival of celebrity guests. The Academy, however, offered no official comment on the protests. A senior security official contracted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences assured, “We are well aware of the protesters. We have a number of backup scenarios we can activate quickly if needed. Working with our partners in the LAPD, we anticipate no problems or delays for our guests and nominees.”

'Oppenheimer' wins Best Picture

Oppenheimer, the blockbuster biopic about the race to build the first atomic bomb, claimed seven Academy Awards including the prestigious Best Picture trophy on Sunday as Hollywood celebrated a triumphant year in film.

Irish actor Cillian Murphy won best actor for playing theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, leader of the U.S. effort in the 1940s to create a weapon that ended World War Two. Oppenheimer director Christopher Nolan took home the directing Oscar.

"We made a film about the man who created the atomic bomb, and for better or worse we are living in Oppenheimer's world," Murphy said as he held his trophy on stage. "So I would really like to dedicate this to the peacemakers everywhere."

A three-hour historical drama about science and politics, Oppenheimer became an unlikely box office hit and grossed $953.8 million, in addition to widespread critical praise. It was the first of Nolan's films to win best picture. The director has previously won acclaim for The Dark Knight Batman trilogy, Inception, Memento and other movies.

As he accepted his gold statuette, Nolan noted that the movie business was a century old and still evolving. "To know you think I'm a meaningful part of this means the world to me," he said.

Emma Stone wins Best Actress

Emma Stone was named best actress for playing a woman revived from the dead in the dark and wacky comedy Poor Things. It was the second Academy Award for Stone, who landed the best actress honor for 2016 musical La La Land. "This is really overwhelming," she said on stage.

The best actress race had been considered one of the tightest competitions with Lily Gladstone nominated for Killers of the Flower Moon. Had she prevailed, Gladstone would have been the first Native American to win an acting Oscar.

In supporting actor categories, Robert Downey Jr. of Oppenheimer and The Holdovers star Da'Vine Joy Randolph claimed their first Academy Awards. Downey, who was nominated for an Oscar in 1993 before his career was derailed by drug use, won his honor on Sunday for playing Oppenheimer's professional nemesis, Lewis Strauss.

"I'd like to thank my terrible childhood and the Academy, in that order," Downey joked before he saluted his wife Susan, who he said found him as a "snarly rescue pet" and "loved him back to life."
Randolph received the Best Supporting Actress trophy for playing a grieving mother and cafeteria worker in the comedy set in a New England boarding school.

"For so long, I always wanted to be different, and now I realize I just need to be myself," she said. "I thank you for seeing me." Winners were chosen by the roughly 10,500 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

After 2023 was marred by labour strikes by actors and writers, the Oscars gave Hollywood a chance to celebrate two blockbusters, Oppenheimer and Barbie, which brought in a combined $2.4 billion at theaters and made movies the center of pop culture last summer.

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