For the second consecutive year, no minorities were nominated for major Oscars
Critical and commercial hits "Creed," "Straight Outta Compton" are largely overlooked
Oh, no, not again. For many movie fans, Thursday’s Oscar nominations brought a dispiriting feeling of deja vu.
For the second consecutive year, no minorities were nominated in any of the four acting categories. One year after the critically acclaimed “Selma” was largely snubbed by academy voters, sparking protests, actors and filmmakers of color are again being ignored – and Twitter is not happy.
“It’s actually worse than last year. Best Documentary and Best Original Screenplay. That’s it. #OscarsSoWhite,” tweeted April Reign, an editor who was credited with launching that hashtag in protest after last year’s nominations were announced.
Idris Elba had been expected to score a nomination for his performance as an African warlord in “Beasts of No Nation,” but he was passed over. Other hopefuls such as “Concussion” star Will Smith, “Creed” star Michael B. Jordan, that movie’s writer-director, Ryan Coogler, and the cast of N.W.A biopic “Straight Outta Compton” also were ignored.
The best original screenplay nomination noted by Reign went to the co-writers of “Compton” – both of whom are white.
Again, #OscarsSoWhite (and #OscarsStillSoWhite) was trending on social media, with some people noting the irony of black comedian Chris Rock presiding over a February 28 ceremony in which no minority actors are honored.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has faced criticism for years that its 7,000-plus members who vote on the Oscars are mostly older, male, white and out of touch. The Rev. Jesse Jackson led protests at the 1996 Academy Awards over perceptions of racism in Hollywood.
Such complaints ebbed somewhat in recent years, as movies with largely black casts such as “The Help,” “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” and “12 Years a Slave” won Oscar recognition.
But protests flared anew last year when the civil rights drama “Selma,” despite widespread praise for director Ava DuVernay and star David Oyelowo, was nominated only for best picture and best original song.
If you’re counting, that’s 40 Oscar nominations these past two years for actors – all of them white.
As cultural critic Mark Harris noted, this marks the first time there have been no black acting nominees two years in a row since 1997-1998, so maybe it represents a dip and not a pattern.
“The older, white, male votership doesn’t hate women, gays, black people. They’re just not as interested in their/our stories,” Harris said Thursday on Twitter. “That’s changing, as the membership changes. A good year can disguise the fact that they have a way to go. A year like this lays it bare.”
Though 37% of the U.S. population, minorities represented 46% of moviegoers in the United States in 2014, according to a report by the Motion Picture Association of America. A study by the University of Southern California found that of the top 100-grossing movies of 2014, nearly three-quarters of all characters were white.
Last September Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, urged studio executives to expand their thinking in terms of diversity but said there was little her members could do to address the issue.
“The Academy has no power over Hollywood. We have nothing to do with hiring,” she said. “What we can do, however, is to get them to widen their normal stream of thought.”
On Twitter after Thursday’s nominations were announced, Rev. Al Sharpton seemed to agree.
“Hollywood has a fraudulent image of progressive and liberal politics and policies,” he tweeted. “We must take direct action to correct this. Talk is cheap.”