Home Entertainment Midweek Movie Mouth-Off: The Academy Awards is all about white people

Midweek Movie Mouth-Off: The Academy Awards is all about white people

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Last week Friday saw the announcement of the nominees for the 87th Annual Academy Awards, known to us plebs as the Oscars. Of course there were the predictable nominations (American Sniper) and there were the surprise snubs (The Lego Movie) but what has been most controversial about this year is the complete lack of diversity amongst the nominees.

Nominees for Best Actor? All white. Best Actress? Ditto. Best Director at least broke some ground with Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu being the first Mexican director to be nominated for an Academy Award, but the rest are all white dudes. The Best Supporting Actor/Actress category? Well, take a wild guess.

Now, I’m definitely not saying that some films and actors should be included just for diversity’s sake; movies should be taken on their merit alone. However, when you have a movie like Selma with a black, female director and a majority colour cast win four Golden Globes, yet only scrape two nominations at the Oscars (Best Picture and Original Song), then something seems a bit off.

So what do you think? Were the best possible films, stars and directors nominated, without prejudice? Or is Hollywood overly obsessed with the “ideal” of the all-American white guy, leaving no room for other demographics?

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Critical Hit as an organisation.

Last Updated: January 21, 2015

13 Comments

  1. Dutch Matrix

    January 21, 2015 at 10:39

    You said: “…yet only scrape two nominations at the Oscars (Best Picture and Original Song), then something seems a bit off.”
    As an even bigger pleb who only likes Arnie and Stallone flicks, I have to ask: Is the Golden Globes and Oscars REALLY meant to mirror each other? Why have the Globes then at all?
    Why drag politics/race into everything?
    Not fiighting. Just asking.

    Reply

    • Kervyn Cloete

      January 21, 2015 at 11:04

      If a movie/actor is really good and universally praised (as Selma was), you would expect it/them to be honoured by all the major awards across the board. That didn’t happen here. I don’t think Selma should necessarily have won, but it should definitely have been the race, especially when the way more divisive American Sniper is given the nod instead.

      What’s more, nominating a movie for Best Picture, but then failing to nominate the individual components that made up that Best Picture feels quite illogical.

      Reply

    • James Francis

      January 21, 2015 at 12:27

      I’d say the problem here is that the Oscars already pick nominees more on their perceived popularity than truly being contributors to the art of making movies. For this reason alone Selma should have been perfect Oscar bait – it’s talked about, it’s controversial, it tackles a historic period and it involves a historical icon. If Grand Budapest Hotel could get so many noms, despite really just being Wes Anderson doing a Wes Anderson-style movie, then Selma should have been a shoo-in. Not because of race or anything, but just because of the boxes it ticks. So this is not really about race and politics, it’s about the Academy ignoring a film that frankly fits perfectly with its lopsided selection criteria.

      Reply

  2. Blood Emperor Trevor

    January 21, 2015 at 11:12

    I never thought about this before, but it makes sense now that the Lego Movie wasn’t nominated. All the actors were Asian.

    Reply

    • James Francis

      January 21, 2015 at 12:27

      Not to mention plastic…

      Reply

      • Blood Emperor Trevor

        January 21, 2015 at 12:39

        Who really wants to see a Kim K movie?

        Reply

  3. Kervyn Cloete

    January 21, 2015 at 11:12

    The real question shouldn’t be why the only eligible movie with a black female director wasn’t nominated, but rather why there was only one eligible movie with a black female director.

    Hollywood is unfortunately still a primarily old boys club, and the lack of female directors (and slightly less, directors of colour) who are given the opportunities to helm big releases that get them the type of press needed to be recognized is still one of its biggest problems.

    We often hear of guys with zero directing experienced being tapped by studios to helm potential blockbusters. Hell, screenwriter Roberto Orci was given the reins on a $840 million franchise with Star Trek 3, never having directed a single frame of a feature film in his life before. I cannot recall that ever happening with a female director.

    Reply

    • Blood Emperor Trevor

      January 21, 2015 at 11:21

      Kinda reminds you of Ridley Scott’s statement about why he cast white actors for major roles in Exodus – because otherwise they wouldn’t have funded it because of the “risk”. Other races, like women (kidding!), are SCARY! What’s even scarier are the people who believe that.

      Reply

      • James Francis

        January 21, 2015 at 12:31

        I thought Scott made a good point. He had to cast based on business decisions. This is the same reason why Scarlett Johansson is tapped to play in Ghost In The Shell. Because if they put an Asian lead in, the movie will struggle. That’s not ‘scary’, it’s reality and it represents real risk. Just look at how hard studios tried to get Jackie Chan, Chow Yun Fat or Jet Li to become superstars in the west. It didn’t work, because audience didn’t respond to it.

        Why this is happening is a different conversation. But I wanted to defend what Scott said. He makes a good point, one that has been reflected over and over again.

        Reply

        • Blood Emperor Trevor

          January 21, 2015 at 12:39

          I didn’t mean to imply he said that it’s scary, I understand his point. But I find it a sad situation that people judge, consciously or not, whether or not they want to see a movie based on the race of the leads, and studios go that way because of money too. At the same time, the more they don’t try the more entrenched the idea becomes.

          Reply

    • James Francis

      January 21, 2015 at 12:32

      I suppose a lot of it are the contact they make. Orci has never been directed, but he’s been around the block a few times. So you are right: it appears to be an ‘old boys club’ issue.

      Reply

    • konfab aka derp

      January 21, 2015 at 17:15

      Commercial films have to make money. That is the realm of producers.
      Since we are talking about the American film industry here, if they don’t cast an American in the role, the people will get pissed.
      Same thing here:
      How many people in South Africa were impressed about Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman playing South African roles? I bet not many.

      People will always prefer their local actors to international ones, especially if the film is set in their country. Hence why a film like District 9 is loved by South Africans.

      Reply

  4. konfab aka derp

    January 21, 2015 at 17:07

    >>2009+6
    >>still thinking any sort of award actually reflects the quality of the films

    All the academy awards represent is the opinion of a bunch semi-qualified people trying to objectify an inherently subjective medium.

    Source: Wikipedia
    Of the 5,100+ active voters confirmed, 94% were Caucasian, 77% were male, and 54% were found to be over the age of 60. 33% of voting members are former nominees (14%) and winners (19%).[30]

    Reply

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