A dangerous disconnect between Hollywood, real life
A dangerous disconnect between Hollywood, real life.
Much is always at stake when Oscar nominations are announced, from boxoffice and career prospects to industry prestige and the direction of Hollywood to come.
This year the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences can add its own future to the list. For a disheartening second year in a row, the all- white nominees in the major categories— actor, actress, supporting actor, supporting actress and director— threaten to render the Oscars irrelevant to the audience it so desperately needs to stay alive.
Race, and specifically the complicated relationship between America’s white majority and its black minority, has defined the news cycle for the past two years. Problems that some Americans hoped were a thing of the past have revealed themselves to be deeply embedded in the country’s culture and consciousness, demanding a renewed soul- searching amid painful protests, damning dashcam videos and other debates about policing and equality.
Overrepresentation of white faces ( or voices, as is the case with the cartoonishly irrelevant Grammys) among the lauded ignores not only the simple demographic reality of the United States but the topic on everyone’s minds.
Is “The Revenant,” which landed 12 nominations on Thursday, a gripping, artful film? Is Jennifer Lawrence a great actor? “Mad Max’s” George Miller an inventive director?
Undoubtedly. But they’re not the only praise- worthy things out there— contrary to what the nominations might lead you to believe. Samuel L. Jackson carried much of Quentin Tarantino’s brutally elegant “The Hateful Eight,” Michael B. Jordan announced himself as a confident new star in the “Rocky” reboot “Creed,” and Idris Elba delivered a haunting performance in “Beasts of No Nation.”
That’s not to mention John Boyega’s impossibly charismatic turn in “StarWars: Episode VII— The Force Awakens,” Will Smith in “Concussion” and N. W. A. biopic “Straight Outta Compton,” which was named best picture by the African American Film Critics Association.
Forget Ridley Scott getting snubbed for directing “The Martian.” Where’s Chiwetel Ejiofor’s supporting nom for carrying the emotional weight of nearly every nonspace scene in the film? Or any mention at all of “Tangerine” or “Chi- Raq”?
Maybe there just weren’t that many worthy movies with black actors this year, some might say, speaking truth to the fact that black actors and directors remain underrepresented in most film offerings.
Another possible argument: Why should we force academy voters to endorse something they didn’t like? Tokenism for its own sake solves nothing.
Perhaps, but this year’s nominations overlook films that are critically acclaimed and top- earning— and that happen to feature plenty of actors of color ( see above).
Last year’s lily- white nominations made it clear the Oscars needed to evolve. This year, it’s blindingly obvious that the nomi-
nations are at best tonedeaf and, atworst, dangerously ignorant and suppressive in an industry that helps shape how we see the world.
Individual votersmay be conscientious and wellconsidered, and the academy itself is reactionary by design. But the system is broken.
Something needs to change. It needed to change last year, and this year it’s at a crisis point.
The composition of the voting academy ( which hands out lifelong memberships) is a good start, inviting people with more diverse backgrounds and tastes that are at least more representative of the people paying to see movies in this country. According to a recent survey by the Los Angeles Times, academy voters are 94 percentwhite, 76 percent men and an average of 63 years old.
Much like the Best Picture category, which was expanded from five films to 10 in 2009 to make way for more populist fare, the acting, directing and writing categories could open up to show us more of what’s out there— not because contributions from actors of color should be further down the list but because the academy seems for now incapable of consistently acknowledging their existence.
The disconnect between what’s been happening in this country for the past two years andwho the Oscars have chosen to recognize only reinforces negative stereotypes about Hollywood. Chiefly, that it’s composed of privileged elite who are out of touch with “real” America.
BEST PICTURE “The Big Short” “Bridge of Spies” “Brooklyn” “Mad Max: Fury Road” “The Martian” “The Revenant” “Room” “Spotlight” ANIMATED FEATURE FILM “Anomalisa” “Boy and the World” “Inside Out” “Shaun the Sheep Movie” “When Marnie Was There” Complete list of nominees at denverpost. com/ extras
Not just the protesters in Ferguson, Mo., Chicago and other cities torn apart by racial strife, but all of us.
It’s the reason last year’s # OscarsSoWhite was trending before lunchtime Thursday. The reasonwhy deliriously talented directors like F. Gary Gray (“Straight Outta Compton”) and Ryan Coogler (“Creed”) won’t even get the chance to accept an award on stage at the Oscars this year.
Despite a pledge not to repeat last year’s all- white nominations, the Oscars seemutterly disconnected once again. And the shame is that the academy is pulling the plug on itself.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS Jennifer Jason Leigh, “The Hateful Eight”
Christian Bale, “The Big Short”
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
BEST DIRECTOR AdamMcKay, “The Big Short”
Bryan Cranston, “Trumbo”
Cate Blanchett, “Carol”
Alejandro G. Iñárritu, “The Revenant”
George Miller, “Mad Max: Fury Road”
Lenny Abrahamson, “Room”
Alicia Vikander, “The Danish Girl”
Jennifer Lawrence, “Joy”
Mark Ruffalo, “Spotlight”
Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Revenant”
Mark Rylance, “Bridge of Spies”
Brie Larson, “Room”
Saoirse Ronan, “Brooklyn”
TomHardy, “The Revenant”
Charlotte Rampling, “45 Years”
Eddie Redmayne, “The Danish Girl”
Matt Damon, “The Martian”
Sylvester Stallone, “Creed”
KateWinslet, “Steve Jobs”
Micheal Fassbender, “Steve Jobs”