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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Utah chapter.

Representation is important because people want to see themselves in movies and want their stories to be told. This is why it can be discouraging when minorities are not represented in awards such as the Oscars. In 2015, April Reign created the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite to draw attention to the whiteness of the academy, and in 2020 there is still a problem with diversity in the Oscars.  While diversity in Hollywood has improved somewhat with films such as Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians in 2018, the Oscars are still overwhelmingly white. Here’s the best and worst of representation in the Oscars in 2020.

Best of Representation 

  • Parasite directed by Bong Joon Ho won a lot of Oscars this year: Best Original Screenplay (first Asian nominee to win in this category), Best Foreign Film (First film from South Korea to win/be nominated in this category), Best Directing, and it made history as the first non-English speaking movie to win the Oscar for Best Picture.  

  • Taika Waititi became the first Maori filmmaker to win an Oscar for Best-Adapted Screenplay for Jojo Rabbit. He was also the first indigenous person nominated in this category. He spoke about indigenous representation in his Oscars speech: “I want to dedicate this to all the indigenous kids in the world who want to do art and dance, and write stories. We are the original storytellers, and we make it here as well. Thank you.”

  • “Hair Love” won Best Animated Short Film. It’s a cute film that talked about the struggles of black hair and learning to love yourself. You can watch it on YouTube here

  • Elton John’s won an Oscar with long-time songwriting partner Bernie Taupin for the song “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from Rocketman. 25 years after winning for the Lion King’s “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”

Felicity Warner / HCM

Lack of Representation 

  • No female directors were nominated this year. Not even Greta Gerwig, whose film Little Women gained 6 nominations. Natalie Portman embroidered the names of snubbed women directors on the cape she wore to the event. In order, they are: Lorene Scarfaria for Hustlers, Lulu Wang for The Farewell, Greta Gerwig for Little Women, Mati Diop for Atlantics, Marielle Heller for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Melina Matsoukas for Queen & Slim, Alma Har’el for Honey Boy, and Celene Sciamma for Portrait of a Lady on Fire. These are a notable few or many female filmmakers this year who deserved to be recognized for their work.

  • There were low nominations for actors of color. Cynthia Erivo for Harriet and Antonio Banderas for Pain & Glory were the only people of color nominated in acting categories this year. Despite the wins for Parasite, the cast of the movie went unacknowledged.

  • More POC were nominated for acting in the Golden Globes this year: Awkwafina for The Farewell, who won for Best Actress in a motion picture musical or comedy, Ana de Armas for Knives Out, Eddie Murphy for Dolemite is My Name and Jennifer Lopez for Best-Supporting Actress for Hustlers. There are more categories for the Golden Globes that separate the genres of films that may account for some of the difference, but on the whole, the Golden Globes were much more diverse.

  • Rocketman about Elton John was snubbed in a variety of categories: costumes, cinematography, sound editing, best actor, etc. This is sad to see because it was a beautiful biopic that explored a lot of LGBTQ issues and spoke about pride and discrimination.

While Parasite has made history, the Oscars still have a lot of work to do when it comes to representation. People of color have been looked over for nominations in acting this year, as well as women directors, and LGBTQ movies. This year has shown that the Oscars must do better and recognize talent from a variety of backgrounds. Hopefully, we’ll see more diverse nominees next year. 








Ashmita Shanthakumar is a student at the University of Utah pursuing a BA in English and Political Science. She is the Politics & Entertainment News Correspondent for HC Utah for 2020-21. When she's not writing you can find her watching old movies, petting friendly cats, and talking about superheroes.
Her Campus Utah Chapter Contributor