Movies & TV / Columns

Why Can’t the Oscars Get It Right?

January 18, 2016 | Posted by Steve Gustafson

The 88th Academy Awards, which will air on February 28th on ABC, came out and while The Revenant (12 nominations), Mad Max: Fury Road (10 nominations) and The Martian (7 nominations) all scored big, this is the second year that critics and social media commentators have blasted the Academy Award nods for lack of diversity. This year, not one person of color was nominated for the coveted gold trophy in top categories such as Best Actor or Actress and Best Supporting Actor or Actress.

Chris Rock, this year’s host, weighed in on the award show’s lack of diversity in nominations while tweeting his latest promo: “The #Oscars. The White BET Awards.”

The criticism has gained so much attention that it reached Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who is African-American. She told ABC station KABC-TV in Los Angeles, “We are being louder and louder and we are going to continue this conversation and we’re going to do more than just talk.”

Actress Jada Pinkett Smith, whose husband Will Smith was an Oscar nominee contender for his role in NFL football drama Concussion, hinted at boycotting the awards show.

“At the Oscars … people of color are always welcomed to give out awards … even entertain,” Pinkett Smith tweeted Saturday, before adding, “But we are rarely recognized for our artistic accomplishments. Should people of color refrain from participating all together?” “People can only treat us in the way in which we allow. With much respect in the midst of deep disappointment,” she concluded.

Straight Outta Compton producer Will Packer and Don Cheadle joined Pinkett Smith and Rock in speaking out about the lack of diversity among this year’s nominees. Packer labeled the situation “embarrassing” in a lengthy social media post. “To my Academy colleagues, WE HAVE TO DO BETTER. Period,” wrote Packer, who is an Academy member, on Facebook. He congratulated those who were nominated, but he lamented that several actors of color were overlooked. “Who I REALLY want to applaud are some other actors, directors and producers who were at the top of their game this year,” he wrote. “A list that includes, but is not limited to, Idris Elba, Michael B. Jordan, Will Smith, John Boyega, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tessa Thompson, Audra McDonald, Adepero Oduye, Samuel L.Jackson, Oshea Jackson Jr, Jason Mitchell, Corey Hawkins, F. Gary Gray and Ryan Coogler.

Don Cheadle joined the discussion by tweeting at Rock, saying he’ll be “parking cars” at Hollywood & Highland the night of the ceremony.

Other critics took the Academy to task for overlooking performances by Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation, Michael B. Jordan in Creed, the cast of Dope and Straight Outta Compton, which was nominated in the SAG Awards’ Best Ensemble category.

The Oscars are Hollywood’s way to showcase the best of its films, actors, and filmmakers but it seems to fail more than it succeeds in doing so. Especially when it comes to giving deserved credit to people of color. Instead of building on a period from 2002 to 2012 where the nominations were balanced, it looks like things are regressing and some amazing work and performances are being overlooked.

What are your thoughts on the nominations and lack of diversity? Keep it respectful in the comments below!