After some great representation at the Golden Globes, the Academy released this year’s Oscars nominations last week, and they are not what we were expecting. The lack of diverse representation did not escape anyone’s attention and has been the source of much criticism. After #OscarsSoWhite trended in 2015, the Academy introduced major changes to its voting rules. While we saw an increase in diversity over the past few years, we took a time machine back to 2015 with this year’s nominations. After Rami Malek’s triumph of winning best performance for playing queer icon Freddy Mercury as an actor of Egyptian origin in 2018, it seems
the Oscar committee was convinced they had reached their diversity quota for the next few years. With
the majority of those nominated being white, straight males, the Oscars are
clearly missing the point of creating a show that reflects its audience’s diversity.
Of the twenty actors and actresses nominated, only two are of colour, and you will find no women in the directing category.
Parasite is the only one of the nine films competing for best picture to have a predominantly nonwhite cast. Along these same lines, Little Women is the only one that has a plot centered
around multiple female characters. This is a shame, as many great movies with great representation have
been released this year that could have qualified.
Some of the Oscar snubs include Greta Gerwig (Little Women) and
Lorene Scarfaria (Hustlers) as directors, and Jennifer Lopez and Awkwafina in acting categories. The latter won the Golden Globe for best actress, so it is not too much of a stretch to say that the Academy had a lot of diversity to choose from. In fact, 2019 has been exceptionally diverse year in its high-ranking movie releases. Even more so, many of the movies that have
been nominated received mixed reviews, with many saying the popular Joker, expected to take home multiple awards,
is severely overrated. While I
personally enjoyed this feature, it
does make us wonder why the Academy celebrates some features while being blind to others.
In the end, it comes down to the voters. It is in our nature to enjoy movies that we can emphasize with, and
the majority of Academy voters have been straight white men. It is then to
be expected that these men nominate movies with characters and themes they recognize. This launches us into an endless circle of the same people getting nominated every year. It is also because of this that actors such as Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks are among some of the most well-known. This does not diminish their acting abilities
in any way, but it
does explain why they are the only great actors we are seeing. While the voter distribution has definitely improved since the Academy’s promise of more diversity in 2016, the numbers are still shifted towards men. In 2019, the Academy announced that its membership now
consists of 32% women and 16% people of colour, while these numbers were 25% and 8% respectively in 2015.
All in all, this year’s ceremony will most likely not
be remembered as revolutionary.
That is not to say, however, that it will not be enjoyable, or that we should give up on the Oscars forever. Change takes time, and we will continue to take steps towards more diversity
in the future.
For a complete list of all nominations, click this link: https://oscar.