It’s that time of year again. Awards season. The time where we anxiously await the opinions of a bunch of faceless Academy members to see if our favorites have gotten their just dues. Last year many called for and participated in the boycott of the Oscars after, for the millionth time, many actors of color were snubbed despite banner performances. Many of the Old Hollywood vanguard scrambled to justify the snubs and some even called for actors of color to wait their turn. Well, after much public backlash and an eight year low viewership in 2016, it seems the 2017 Oscars will be a lot more colorful. Or, to be clearer, a lot more black. Asian actors are still, sadly, only 1% of Hollywood’s lead roles. Dev Patel is the only Asian actor nominated this year and only the third Indian actor to be nominated in history. Halle Berry is still the only Black Actress to win the Best Actress category and this is the first time Black Actors have been nominated in every acting category. Let’s hold on giving pats on the back for the moment.
Let’s take a look at the nominees shall we? Let’s just start with La La Land so we can get over it. The film got a record fourteen nominations pushing them into an echelon only occupied by the films All About Eve and Titanic. I will be clear and say that I haven’t seen La La Land and I really don’t have any plans to. This movie has been very polarizing in my group of friends. Most of us love love love musical theater but a few of us found the premise of La La Land to be a big old meh. However, I can’t say that I’m surprised. Before last year’s outrage the academy was 77% male , with a median age of 62, 93% white and only 14% were under 50. This movie was made to hit the Academy in their feels and harken the days of yore. There’s nothing new about this movie or special, it’s just nostalgic.
This year we also have two men who have been accused or charged with abusing and or harassing women. Mel Gibson and Casey Affleck. As Constance Wu so eloquently put it “The choices the award committee makes does increase the dignity of an award and brings light to the pursuit our craft seeks to honor.” In honoring these men who have allegedly assaulted, abused and intimidated women, the Academy has continued a long standing tradition of ignoring their male nominees’ violent relationships with women a la Polanski. As this country just elected a man (I use that term loosely here) who brags about grabbing women by the pussy, the Academy missed an opportunity to refuse to honor men with habits of abusing women and it won’t go unnoticed.
The Academy hastily made some bids last year to make sure that their membership is more inclusive. It was necessary, however looking at the nominees and the lack of representation for other minority groups I wonder if expanding the membership really got to the root of the problem.