Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A Year Of #OscarsNotSoWhite

Even though it has been expected, we won't be seeing #OscarsSoWhite this year. But I figured I'd use this opportunity to celebrate the inclusivity of this year's nominees.

Well, first off, we have 4 films about people of color in the mix for Best Picture: Fences, Hidden Figures, Lion, and Moonlight which is also an LGBTQ+ film. So it is refreshing to have even more representation reflected in this category along with a female-driven film like Hidden Figures. Not only that, but it is refreshing to see the nominated films that depict the black experience not be about slavery or servitude. Even though films about slavery and racism are important stories that should be told, they shouldn't be the only types of stories being cited during awards season. While Hidden Figures does depict the racism of the time period the film is set in, it is still very focused on the POV of the three main protagonists and their determination in accomplishing the main task.

Also, the acting categories are the most diverse in 10 years with actors of color making up seven of the nominations: Denzel Washington in Best Actor, Ruth Negga in Best Actress, both Mahershala Ali and Dev Patel in Supporting Actor, and Viola Davis, Naomie Harris, and Octavia Spencer all in Supporting Actress. In fact, we got to see Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer make history. Viola Davis is now the most nominated African-American actress in history with 3 nominations and Octavia Spencer is the first African-American actress ever to score a post-Oscar win nomination.

People behind the camera got to make history as well. Bradford Young who is up for Best Cinematography for Arrival is the first African-American to ever be nominated. Joi McMillan who is nominated for Film Editing for her work on Moonlight is the first African-American woman to ever be nominated in this category. Also, three writers of color are competing for Adapted Screenplay: August Wilson for Fences and both Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney for Moonlight. Meanwhile, not one, not two, not three, but FOUR filmmakers of color are competing for Best Documentary: Ava DuVernay for 13th, Roger Ross Williams for Life, Animated, Raoul Peck for I Am Not Your Negro, and Ezra Edelman for O.J.: Made In America. 

So we have a lot of African-American artists being recognized for their work this year. However, while Rodrigo Prieto is competing in Cinematography for Silence and Lin Manuel-Miranda in Original Song for Moana, a movie about an Islander princess, there is still an underrepresentation of Hispanic artists. Also, Asian talent is underrepresented even though Dev Patel did manage to get nominated. Even though Alison Schroeder was nominated for her writing on Hidden Figures, she is still the only woman nominated. Also, while Ava DuVernay will compete in the Documentary category and Maren Ade will compete in the Foreign Language Film category for Toni Erdmann, no woman is up for Best Director. So we still have ways to go so that this year with a rich amount of inclusivity doesn't feel anomalous.

Anyhow, I just wanted to use this opportunity to show my excitement over how inclusive this year is while also saying how there is still work to be done. Hollywood still has to allow more opportunities for women, POC, LGBTQ+, disabled people, etc. all year around and we as audience members still have to support the diverse content out there.

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