The Oscars: Surprised?
When the 2015 Academy Award nominations were released there were some pretty big surprises. Highly anticipated nominations for movies such as Gone Girl, Foxcatcher and The Lego Movie were snubbed, while American Sniper was given no fewer than six, including best picture, best actor and best adapted screenplay. This year’s most controversial snub, however, was Selma. The Martin Luther King Jr. Biopic was given only two nominations (Best Picture, Best Original Song) despite David Oyelowo’s stunning portrayal of Dr. King, and Ava Duvernay’s incredible directing. The result, unfortunately, is a white-washed list of nominees with the actors in all four acting categorize being Caucasian. Also, had Duvernay received what most people consider a much deserved nomination, she would have made history as the first black female director to be nominated for an Oscar. Some attribute this to the criticism surrounding the film’s inaccurate portrayal of President Lyndon Johnson. However, the Academy didn’t seem to have a problem with historical inaccuracy when it awarded Best Picture to Argo in 2013.
So, who’s to blame? It’s a well-known fact that the Academy consists almost exclusively of older white men, and it can be assumed that the Academy’s patriotic attitude is behind American Sniper’s success. Are these the only reasons why this year’s nominations are so lacking in diversity? The film industry itself is also dominated by the same demographic. Black directors, especially black female directors, are few and far between. This also applies to acting. It’s rare to find an ‘Oscar worthy’ role for a black actor in which he, or she isn’t shown in a position of servitude.
Gone Girl, Foxcatcher, and the Lego Movie- some of this year’s most intriguing, thoughtful, and creative pieces – have been ignored. Worse, Selma, a passionate and stunning film about one of the pivotal moments in American history has been largely ignored. Why did the Academy neglect to recognize the black artists who made it great?
James Perry, Online Contributor
Image: The NY Post