The Oscars: flawed fun for film fans

This year’s Oscars nominations stirred up controversy concerning race and gender.,,,,,,,

Mary Strother, Writer

It is that time of year again — my personal favorite. When all the stars are asked “who they’re wearing” on the red carpet. When awkward presenters flub someone’s name — looking at you, John Travolta. When press people pretend to have seen all the movies nominated for Best Picture. Yes folks, it is Oscar season.

Last month, the nominees for all 24 categories celebrating the best of film were announced live. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the voting body behind the nominations, is not particularly known for their diversity. In fact, in a 2012 survey by the Los Angeles Times, Oscar voters were 94 percent Caucasian and 77 percent male. In 2013, the Academy made attempts to bring more diversity to their group, but these statistics dropped by 1 percent only. How does this problem tie in to the 2014-2015 Oscars? Every single nominee in the four major acting categories this year is white.

Two of the most talked about snubs after the announcement of nominations included “Selma” leading man David Oyelowo and director Ava DuVernay, both of whom have made waves this year for their powerhouse performance and confident directing. By not nominating Oyelowo, DuVernay and other actors, actresses, directors and screenwriters of color, the Academy set their own progress back. However, in light of the fact that no one reading this article, nor the general public, belongs to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, what is there to be done after the fact? The focus in the coming years needs to center on raising awareness to the problems of diversity in such a prestigious organization. For an association dedicated to celebrating the best of film, it sometimes never truly feels like we get “the best”.


That said, this year’s nominees are in place already, including many incredible performances and films. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu was nominated three times — for directing, writing and producing “Birdman.” Sandra Adair received the nomination for best achievement in Film Editing for her work on Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood.” And two of the Best Documentary Feature nominees, “Citizenfour” and “Last Days in Vietnam” were directed by women, Laura Poitras and Rory Kennedy respectively. And the acting nominations, while all white, show a great diversity in age and even country of origin, and all represent some of the most outstanding performances of the year.

So the Academy has its flaws, with miles to go before they reach the pinnacle of what they could achieve as an organization committed to honoring film’s greatest achievements. However as a cinephile, the Oscars still represent a fun night that celebrates some wonderful films and performers who have worked hard. In the coming weeks I will take an in depth look at the nominees in each major category and make my predictions. Hoping for a 2015 full of great film!


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