A tribute that started with words from the Ukrainian-born Mila Kunis ended with the Academy Awards fading to black about midway through Sunday’s show from Los Angeles, with a plea for anyone watching to do whatever possible to send help to those in the war-torn nation.
“Recent global events have left many of us feeling gutted,” Kunis said as she took the stage, part of her remarks to introduce Reba McIntyre’s performance of the Oscar-nominated song Somehow You Do from Four Good Days.
“Yet when you witness the strength and dignity of those facing such devastation, it’s impossible to not be moved by their resilience,” Kunis continued. “One cannot help but be in awe of those who find strength to keep fighting through unimaginable darkness.”
That’s when McIntyre took the stage, dressed in a black gown, for her performance.
The balance between celebrating art while Russia's invasion of Ukraine rages on has been a delicate one for the Oscars.
Sean Penn has openly campaigned for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy — a former actor — to speak at the ceremony. Some arrived for the Oscars wearing blue-and-gold ribbons, an obvious show of support since those are the colours of the Ukrainian flag.
When McIntyre’s song ended, a large video screen hovering over the stage displayed a tribute and a plea as the 30-second moment of silence began.
“We’d like to have a moment of silence to show our support for the people of Ukraine currently facing invasion, conflict and prejudice within their own borders,” read the screen. “While film is an important avenue for us to express our humanity in times of conflict, the reality is millions of families in Ukraine need food, medical care, clean water and emergency services. Resources are scarce and we — collectively as a global community — can do more.”
It then ended with a display that said: “We ask you to support Ukraine in any way you are able. #StandWithUkraine.”