"Moonlight" is the first best-picture winner to deal heavily with LGBTQ issues — not to mention LGBTQ issues in a lower-income African American community — but for many in the industry, it's only a drop in the bucket in the bid for more serious films about minorities.
That's also a view espoused emphatically by Anson Carter, one of pro hockey's trailblazing black players and co-host of MSG Network's "The MSG Hockey Show."
The NHL veteran — he played for teams including the Bruins. Canucks, Oilers and (very briefly) the Kings over an 11-year career — was at the Oscars on Sunday as the guest of Sony Pictures Classics co-chief Tom Bernard, who is cachet in the sports world.
"It's never enough, really," Carter, 42, told The Times just before he walked into the Dolby Theatre for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences' annual bash.
Even as he noted the success of films such as "Moonlight," "Fences" and "Hidden Figures," Carter said the idea that a quota had been reached was misguided. "We have to keep rising up and making noise, making good films with people of color."
Carter had a stellar career as an NHL center, notching at least 20 goals in five seasons before. He has described a climate of tolerance around the league during his playing career but did face overt acts of racism, particularly abroad.
The NHL and the academy have a few things in common: Both institutions are historically not seen as welcoming to African Americans but have sought to make strides in recent years. That may be bearing fruit in hockey; Thursday will see the NHL debut of Joshua Ho-Sang, a Canadian-born player with Jamaican, Chinese and Jewish roots who may be among the most diverse the NHL has ever seen.
Does Carter see the same progress in the prestige-film world?
The athlete said Hollywood's ability to change its diversity approach started with a mind-set.
"My thing was always to be taken seriously in a way that had nothing to do with race," he said. "I wanted to play well enough they didn't talk about me as a good black hockey player — they just talked about me as a good hockey player. And I think we need to achieve the same goal in movies."