In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, it seemed like every piece of art suddenly became political, whether that was its creator's intention or not. But that wasn't the case at the 2017 Oscars Sunday night (February 26) in the Best Documentary Feature category. Four of the five nominated films this year tackled overtly political issues — including the winner, O.J.: Made in America, director Ezra Edelman's eight-hour, five-part epic exploring O.J. Simpson's life, career, and eventual murder trial against the backdrop of race relations in the United States.
The feature's nomination initially spawned some confusion: Should it be considered a film or a piece of television, as it aired on both ABC and ESPN? (One anonymous Oscar voter even mixed it up with 2016's FX series American Crime Story: The People v O.J. Simpson.) Edelman acknowledged this in his acceptance speech, calling his feature an "untraditional film."
As he stood onstage with producer Caroline Waterlow, Edelman also shouted out two people in particular: Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown, the pair whose 1994 murders placed Simpson on trial with charges for which he was eventually acquitted. "I want to acknowledge that I wouldn't be standing here tonight if not for two people who aren't here: Ron Goldman, Nicole Brown," he said. "This is for them and their families."
"It is also for others: the victims of police violence, police brutality, racially motivated violence, and criminal injustice," Edelman continued. "This is their story as well as Ron and Nicole's. I am honored to accept this award on all their behalf."