For only the second time in nearly two decades, the 20 Academy Awards acting nominations went to a group made up entirely of white actors and actresses…
The Oscar acting nominations are typically a reflection, in some part, of the best roles of the year available to actors and actresses, which makes 2015’s lineup troubling. The two writing categories also were dominated by white men. Not a single woman was nominated in either category.
Though the Academy doesn’t reveal a breakdown of its membership, a 2012 report by the Los Angeles Times found that of the nearly 6,000 members, 94% are white, 77% are male and 86% are age 50 or older.
The highly praised movie [“Selma”] about a key period in the civil-rights movement stars David Oyelowo as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and was directed by relative newcomer Ava DuVernay. Both Oyelowo and DuVernay, in particular, had been singled out for acclaim, but when the Oscar nominations came down, both were shut out. “Selma” ended up with just two nominations: best picture and best song.
The Internet, noting the lack of diversity among the acting and directing categories, reacted with scorn.
“Selma” had been criticized for the way it portrayed some aspects of history — particularly the role of President Lyndon B. Johnson — but as a movie, the reviews were resoundingly favorable, with 99% approval on RottenTomatoes.com.
STATEMENT BY REV. AL SHARPTON BLASTING THE LACK OF DIVERSITY IN TODAY’S OSCAR NOMINATIONS—
“The lack of diversity in today’s Oscar nominations is appalling and while it is good that Selma was nominated for ‘Best Picture,’ it’s ironic that they nominated a story about the racial shutout around voting while there is a racial shutout around the Oscar nominations. With all of the talent in Selma and other Black movies this year, it is hard to believe that we have less diversity in the nominations today than in recent history. National Action Network (NAN) has formed a task force on the movie industry to deal with diversity as I engage in dialogue with Sony Pictures Co-Chairman Amy Pascal. The movie industry is like the Rocky Mountains, the higher you get, the whiter it gets. I have called an emergency meeting early next week in Hollywood with the task force to discuss possible action around the Academy Awards.”
The Rev. Al Sharpton thinks the Oscars should be nominated for a prize itself: worst display of diversity in a major awards ceremony.
The outspoken civil rights activist said Thursday that it was “appallingly insulting in the year of 2015″ that the 20 Academy Awards acting nominations went only to white actors and actresses.
“In the time of Staten Island and Ferguson, to have one of the most shutout Oscar nights in recent memory is something that is incongruous,” Sharpton told The News.
Sure, 12 Years a Slave won last year, but that was after a bruising campaign that saw it barely eke out a win over the finish line. Other prominent films about black characters from last year — like The Butler — were unable to score nominations…
The simple fact of the matter is that Selma was a film told from the perspective not of a white man, directed by a black woman, about events that are important to the history of black people in America, and that implicated white people in the horrors of the time and the ongoing horrors of racial relations in the country right now.
Imagine if this movie’s point-of-view character were President Johnson. Or imagine if it were the exact same movie but directed by Clint Eastwood. Either version of that story would have racked up nomination after nomination. This one didn’t, and it shows just how far the Academy has to go before it truly diversifies.
We expect the Academy Awards to ignore all kinds of great genre material; the 2015 list feels all the more galling because David Oyelowo’s performance and Ava DuVernay’s direction were not just extraordinarily good, but also very Oscar-friendly…
It’s crucial to note, too, that the Oscars’ “diversity” shouldn’t begin and end with more nominations for Selma, which, to repeat, is a particularly Oscar-friendly movie. Plenty more films starring people of color—Beyond the Lights, Dear White People, Top Five, Rosewater, Belle—got barely a sniff of Academy attention (Beyond the Lights did get a Best Original Song nomination). We hold AMPAS to low standards every year, wildly praising any nominations that feel outside the box, like Marion Cotillard’s surprising but fully deserved appearance on the rolls today for Two Days, One Night. That’s why this year’s nominees are so flabbergasting. That a stirring biopic about one of the most famous Americans in history, filled with brassy supporting performances from Oscar veterans like Tom Wilkinson and Tim Roth, with a 99 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, couldn’t get more Oscar attention feels more than surprising—it feels insulting.
“What’s disheartening is that it seemed like things were improving after ’12 Years a Slave’ won last year but now it seems like the Academy is saying, ‘Because we did that, we’re good for a while,” Ehrlich said.
“These topics, slavery and civil rights, are hugely important but in almost any other category of films the casts are all white. Over and over people say that things are getting better but the numbers don’t show improvement and in fact this year we are moving backward,” she said…
“Part of the problem is it’s an incredibly insular industry,” said Darnell Hunt, director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA. “The people who make decisions, who green-light projects, tend to surround themselves with people pretty much like themselves.”
Every nominated director is male. Every nominated screenwriter is male.
Shall we look at story? Every Best Picture nominee here is predominantly about a man or a couple of men, and seven of the eight are about white men, several of whom have similar sort of “complicated genius” profiles, whether they’re real or fictional.
Particularly in light of these two points, the lack of a Best Director nomination for DuVernay … is a disappointment not only for those who admired the film and her careful work behind the camera, but also for those who see her as a figure of hope, considering how rare it is for even films about civil rights to have black directors, and how rare it is for any high-profile project at all to be directed by a woman. Scarcity of opportunity tends to breed much lower tolerance for the whimsical sense that nominations normally have, so that even people who know better than to take Oscar voting to heart feel the sting of what seems like a deliberate snub.
Although Vox is supposedly a “wonky” blog, they apparently felt comfortable allowing a piece filled with pure speculation. Author Todd VanDerWerff claims “’12 Years a Slave’ only “barely eke[d] out a win over the finish line” last year, but ballots are completely anonymous, meaning no one knows how much any given film won by. He also bizarrely claims that Selma would have had won more nominations if Clint Eastwood had directed the film… despite the fact that Eastwood was also snubbed in the Best Director category.
Meanwhile, The Wrap took the same approach, claiming the “‘Selma’ Snub Means Diversity Is Still Sparse in a White Hollywood.” Author Sharon Waxman writes: “It is hard to ignore that “Selma” comes in a year when crowds of angry young people of all colors and races are filling the streets of America demanding a more equal society, fair treatment by police and an end to random shootings of young black men.”…
It’s worth noting that despite a strong nomination showing at the Golden Globes, Selma was also not nominated by the Producers Guild, Directors Guild and Screen Actors Guild (it wasn’t eligible for the Writer’s Guild). But hey, maybe they’re all racists, too.
Following the release of 2014’s Oscar nominations, leftist blowhards and race hustlers alike have been crying “foul” over the lack of black people represented in the categories, most especially, Huffington Post’s Lauren Duca, who lamented that this year’s Oscars will be “the whitest since 1998.”…
Oddly enough, Duca fully recognized that 12 Years A Slave won Best Picture Oscar last year along with a Best Supporting Actress win for the African native Lupita Nyong’o, not to mention a Best Director win for Latin filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron, but somehow that just wasn’t enough.
For Lauren Duca to not cry “racism,” there must be a black actor represented in every acting category, every year. It does not matter to Duca that Selma, a film depicting the trials of Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights movement, received a Best Picture nomination, or that Mexican filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu has been nominated for directing Birdman; a black actor or actress must be present at all times.
The Vox headline screams: “Selma was snubbed because the average Oscar voter is a 63-year-old white man.” Buried deep in Vox’s dishonest race-baiting, though, is a fairly pertinent fact that completely undermines the headline: Just 11 months ago, this very same old, white Academy awarded “12 Years a Slave” a Best Picture Oscar…
[I]n order to justify its dishonest headline, Vox chooses not to tell its readers about priors years, or even last year when Chiwetel Ejofor, Barkhad Abdi, and Lupita Nyong’o were all nominated. Nyong’o won.
On top of those three, in just the last 5 years, Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Quvenzhané Wallis, Gabourey Sidibe, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer (won), and Mo’Nique (won) have all been nominated. That’s a total of 10 nominees and 3 wins over 5 years.
The math: 4 actor categories with five slots each equals 20 slots per year. Over 5 years that equals 100 possible nominations. Black actors have won 10% of those. That’s pretty much in line with the American population ratio which blacks make up 13.1% of…
Nobody wants to come out and say this but “Selma’s” real problem is that it just isn’t a very good movie. The film does many things right and then fails miserably at making the audience feel anything, especially at the end. Given the subject matter, “Selma” should soar and offer the audience some sort of emotional release. It doesn’t. And that’s a huge failure of the screenplay and the director.