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Mexicans Alejandro G. Inarritu and Emmanuel Lubezki have triumphed once again at the Oscars and their victories are always cause for celebration in Mexico.
Yet curiously, hundreds of folks gathered at Mexico City’s iconic Angel of Independence monument on Sunday night to sing praise primarily to Leonardo DiCaprio. With chants such as “ole, ole, ole, ole, ole, Leooo, Leooo” and “Leo, hermano, ya eres Mexicano” (Leo, brother, you’re Mexican now) the atmosphere felt like a celebration for a championship soccer match.
Fans raised teddy bears high above the raucous crowd and one guy came dressed in a horse costume, both references to The Revenant‘s animal characters.
Mexican newspapers had fun with the Oscar results as well. A headline in the tabloid La Prensa reads “Mexican Power,” while the daily Ovaciones shows Inarritu, Lubezki and DiCaprio posing with their Oscar statuettes under the headline “They Knock Down Walls,” which takes a shot at GOP frontrunner Donald Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
With back-to-back wins for Birdman and The Revenant, Inarritu’s became just the third filmmaker in Oscar history to win two consecutive best director Oscars. He shares the honor with John Ford (The Grapes of Wrath in 1941, How Green Was My Valley in 1942) and Joseph L. Mankiewicz (A Letter to Three Wives in 1950, All About Eve in 1951).
As for Lubezki, his three-peat in the category was a first. The Chivo, as he’s known, has won three years in a row for his groundbreaking work in Alfonso Cuaron’s space thriller Gravity, Inarritu’s meticulously rehearsed drama Birdman and now with Inarritu’s survival tale The Revenant.
Mexican talent has been often honored in the cinematography category in recent years. Over the past decade, Mexicans have walked away with four cinematography statuettes if you add to the mix Guillermo Navarro’s 2007 win for Pan’s Labyrinth. Navarro beat out his countryman Lubezki (nominated for Children of Men that year), and in 2006 Lubezki was nominated for The New World alongside Mexican lenser Rodrigo Prieto (Brokeback Mountain).
Mexico is clearly proud of its growing presence in Hollywood. But local film critics see the recent Oscar success as individual accomplishments and not necessarily a reflection of the Mexican film industry as a whole (Gravity, Birdman and The Revenant are all Hollywood productions).
Even so, Rolling Stone Mexico critic Arturo Aguilar says the Oscar victories give Mexicans something to cheer about at a time when people are fed up with news about the ongoing drug war or recent economic downturn.
“I think people want to see the positive side of things,” Aguilar said. “Mexicans simply don’t get a lot of good news throughout the year.”
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