Janelle Monae’s performance, Natalie Portman’s dress, and all the subtle ways stars are calling out the Oscars

Janelle Monae performs onstage during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on February 09, 2020 in Hollywood, California. Source: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Stars at the 92nd Academy Awards used their outfits, performances and platform to call out the Academy for its failings.

Big-name stars including Janelle Monae and Natalie Portman used their platform at today's 92nd Academy Awards to call out the failure of the Oscars to centre women and people of colour.

Women and ethnic minorities were noticeably absent from the list of Oscar nominations this year, with no women nominated for best director, and just one non-white acting nominee.

Janelle Monae opened the ceremony with a musical performance calling out that absence of diversity, and celebrating the artists whose work was snubbed.

"The misfits, the outcasts, the misunderstood, those voices long deprived -- be loud, be seen, be lit, be heard, because tonight we come alive," she sang.

"Tonight we celebrate all the amazing talent in this room. We celebrate all the women who directed phenomenal films. And I'm so proud to stand here as a black, queer artist, telling stories."

During the performance, Monae also referenced the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag that arose in 2016, when all 20 acting nominees were white.

Actress Natalie Portman also used the ceremony to criticise the Oscars' erasure of women.

Portman arrived on the red carpet wearing a cape embroidered with the surnames of female directors who did not receive nominations for their work.

The names included Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers), Lulu Wang (The Farewell), Greta Gerwig (Little Women), Mati Diop (Atlantics), Marielle Heller (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood), Melina Matsoukas (Queen & Slim), Alma Har'el (Honey Boy) and Céline Sciamma (Portrait of a Lady on Fire).

Meanwhile, Māori director and writer Taika Waititi dedicated his award for Best Adapted Screenplay to Indigenous kids around the world.

"I dedicate this to all the Indigenous kids around the world who want to do art, and dance, and write stories," he said.

"We are the original storytellers, and we can make it here as well."

On Twitter, British actor Ricky Gervais also took a shot at the Oscars for its lack of diversity.

After a fan asked Gervais what his opening joke would have been if he was hosting the ceremony, Gervais responded with "It's great to see such diversity in the room tonight. Rich sex pests of all shapes and sizes".