Hollywood is a bizarre place that most people spectate like a caged animal at a zoo. We watch what happens on the surface without having the faintest clue of what is going on behind the scenes.
Hollywood likes to hold itself on a pedestal for being socially forward-thinking. They're the first to collectively pat themselves on the back when forming human judgments and decisions about horrible people and the things they've done. However, when it comes to the Oscars, the Academy prefers to turn a blind eye to progressive filmmaking.
The ongoing debate about the yearly award show that celebrates achievements in film isn't just about the winners, but more importantly, the nominations of women and minorities. Or should I say, the lack thereof? Over the last 92 years, the Oscars have ignored the elephant in the room. Over three years in 2014-16, there wasn't a non-white man or woman nominated for any of the main awards – best actor, best actress and best director. This hadn't happened since the 1980s. Since 1928, there have been 12 winners in those categories that haven't been white.
I'm all for having the most deserving candidates win the award. I understand that the opportunities for minorities in the early 20th century probably weren't as plentiful as they are now. But I find it hard to believe that there have only been 12 people of color deserving of winning an Oscar in those three categories.
Minorities are winning a swift 4.3% of the trophies in these awards. This isn't just black people, but all minorities. A non-white actor hasn't won since 2007, while Halle Berry remains the only minority actress winner in the Academy's history.
Women are also struggling to break through the proverbial glass ceiling that hangs over them. There have been five woman nominees for best picture with the lone win coming in 2010. Kathryn Bigelow won for The Hurt Locker in 2010.
I don't think that handing out nominations to women and minorities who don't deserve it is a good thing. I believe that it sets a standard of pity that indirectly is more oppressive than what's going on right now. But there are so many actors, actresses and directors of all ethnicities and genders that do great work that doesn't get a nomination.
Some would ask, what’s the point of a nomination if it’s not going to win? An Oscar nomination gives a movie a bump in popularity. More people are more likely to watch an independent film if it’s nominated. Oscar recognition is a way to publically share art with people who aren’t deeply involved in the filmmaking landscape.
This year, Cynthia Ervio (Harriet) and Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory) each have a nomination. However, neither of them will win. The odds on favorites are Joaquin Phoenix (Joker) and Renee Zellweger (Judy).
There are no women nominated for best director this year despite Gretta Gerwig's Little Women getting a nomination for best picture. For some reason, the Oscars nominate up to 10 movies for best picture but cap the nomination count at five for best director.
What's most frustrating about all of this is on the night of the Oscars, there will be speeches about all of the social issues that people in entertainment are pushing to change. Someone will have a monologue glorifying the work of women and minorities, as they should. Yet when it comes time to vote, it's a familiar crop of white males. The status quo needs an update.
I want deserving people to get recognition. I don't think that's possible with the current line of thinking the Academy holds. It's hypocritical of Hollywood to boast how progressive they are when these entertainers sit on the sidelines. In 2020, this is a new-age example of token filmmakers.
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“It’s Our Turn” is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.