When the Oscars wear black—and Filipino

In Photo: Michael Cinco For Allison Janney, Jef Anog; Lesley Mobo For Frances Mcdormand, Bruce Casanova; Ezra Santos For Emma Stone; Cary Santiago For Daniela Vega, Bruce Casanova; Garimon Roferos For Gal Gadot, Rozen Antonio; And Mimi Parrel-Pimentel For Mary J.Blige, Surjit Pardesi

SO, I just learned that The King and I, the 1956 musical film nominated for an Oscar Best Picture, had a Philippine-born actor in the cast: Patrick Adiarte, who was Prince Chulalongkorn to Yul Brynner’s Oscar-winning King. (Brynner, born in Russia, played the titular King of Siam.)

Looking for a Philippine connection (because this is what amounts to #philippinepride nowadays) at this year’s Oscars crop, we have Fil-Am Robert Lopez, the winner for Best Original Song for 2014’s Frozen and current nominee for “Remember Me” from Coco with wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez. He is also the youngest and the quickest to win the EGOT (Emmy, Globes, Oscar and Tony).

Then there’s also Malaya Rivera Drew, who plays a reporter in seven-time nominee Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Of mixed English/Native American/Polish and Spanish/Filipino descent, we know her name means “free” in Filipino. If she attends the Oscars, I hope she wears a gown by a Filipino designer, like Monique Lhuillier or Oliver Tolentino perhaps?

To continue this wishful thinking of having Filipino designers dress up Hollywood royalty, and in line with the ongoing #MeToo and Time’s Up movements’ dictum of wearing black, here’s my rundown:


Last year’s Best Actress, Emma Stone (La La Land), could easily slip into a braided leather handwoven dress by Ezra Santos from his 2017 “Weave of Love” collection as she hands out the Oscar for Best Actor.

Lupita Nyong’O, a presenter, can replicate her Black Panther royal red-carpet look with a sexy ethnic from Cherry Samuya Veric’s 2016 “Viva!” collection.

Hip-hop goddess Mary J. Blige, nominated for supporting actress for Mudbound, will look rock in a Mimi Parrel-Pimentel cathedral-lace dress from her recent London Fashion Week “Romantic Interlude” collection. The spitfire Zendaya (The Greatest Showman) will sizzle in a Rocky Gathercole original.

At 23, Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird) is the youngest three-time nominee ever. (Meryl Streep was 32 when she got her third.) The Irish ingenue will look gorgeous in a flimsy, feminine dress by Philip Rodriguez from his Manila Fashion Festival (MFF) Beyond 2017 collection. Another Best Actress contender, the Australian Margot Robbie (I, Tonya), could swing by in a Rhett Eala plunging, fringe number, also from MFF 2017.

Had she been nominated, the Chilean Daniela Vega (A Fantastic Woman) would have been the first transgender actress to achieve the feat. But as it is, she will be the first openly transgender person to be a presenter at the Oscars. She’d win the red carpet, though, if she saunters in wearing a Cary Santiago couture piece from his Red Charity Gala 2012 show.

Wonder Woman was completely shut out of nominations, so I wish Gal Gadot will make a “protest statement” and shun an all-black dress. A Garimon Roferos gown with giant red flowers will give the Israeli actress a beautiful entrance.

Allison Janney wore a Michael Cinco cobalt Swarovski-encrusted dress when she won the Critics’s Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress (I, Tonya). Wouldn’t it be wonderful if she does so again, this time from his immaculate “Impalpable Dream of Sainte-Chapelle” collection?

At the Golden Globes and at the Baftas (British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards), Best Actress front-runner Frances McDormand (Three Billboards…) admitted that she has a hard time following the dress code, though she stands in solidarity with her sisters. But since it’s the Oscars, she might wear a palette close to black: a navy blue, sequined Lesley Mobo with red geometric details from his Red Charity Gala 2015 turn.

It’s the 90th Oscars, so I expect another “Oscars Family Album,” a gathering of past Oscar acting winners. In 1998 it was presented by Susan Sarandon at the 70th Oscars ceremony with 70 attendees).

Then at the 75th Academy Awards in 2003 (with 59 attendees), it was presented by Olivia de Havilland, now the only surviving star from Hollywood’s Golden Age along with Kirk Douglas.

On the list of presenters at today’s ceremony, the confirmed attendees who are legends and past winners and could possibly be presenting this segment (should there be one) are Jane Fonda (1971’s Klute, 1978’s Coming Home), Rita Moreno (1961’s West Side Story), Helen Mirren (2007’s The Queen) and Eva Marie Saint (1954’s On the Waterfront).

Turning Points 2018
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