“Sound of Music” jokes aside, the Oscars are facing a serious backlash about the lack of diversity in all of the major categories and nominations. No people of color were nominated for any of the major awards that will be handed out on February 28, aside from “The Revenant” director Alejandro Gonzà¡lez Ià±à¡rritu. Celebrities and common folk alike have sounded an outcry over the lack of diversity in the nominees, even creating the trending hashtag #oscarssowhite. So what is to be done with this reoccurring problem, especially since at the previous year’s Academy Awards, Ià±à¡rritu was once more the only non-white nominees?
Several celebrities have sounded off about what they think the solution (or lack thereof) to the problem should be. Previous nominee Viola Davis says it’s not a problem with the Academy but rather the movie-making system itself. As Davis is quoted to saying to the television program Entertainment Tonight: “You can change the Academy, but if there are no black films being produced, what is there to vote for?” I have to agree with her. I can count the number of major studio-backed films that feature at least one person of color as the lead on one hand. And despite these films getting critical and popular praise, there are no nominations.
For instance, in the film “Creed,” a new chapter in the Rocky series that focuses on the son of Apollo Creed, the lead character was played to perfection by Michael B. Jordan. But instead of Jordan getting a nomination, Sylvester Stallone garners one for Actor in a Supporting Role. Sure, Stallone was great in the film, there is no doubt about that, but was his performance better than Jordan’s? No way. In fact, Jordan’s performance was arguably better than half of the nominees for Actor in a Leading Role.
I have seen the majority of the films nominated, and there are some actors and actresses that were nominated that I believe deserve it less than some actors that weren’t. While I believe Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio deserve their nominations (and it might finally be the year that Leo wins that little gold statue), the other three nominees were passable at best. Michael Fassbender is an amazing actor, but “Steve Jobs” was a lackluster film, with typical Aaron Sorkin dialogue and a lot of walking and talking. And his work in the film wasn’t particularly groundbreaking or novel. Instead, it would have been great to see Idris Elba nominated for “Beasts of No Nation” where he plays a terrifying warlord. He was nominated for a Golden Globe and Screen Actor’s Guild, but not an Academy Award.
The other nomination that really grinds my gears is Bryan Cranston for “Trumbo,” which was just an okay film. It was fodder to the Academy because it deals with one of their own, Dalton Trumbo, a screenwriter from the McCarthy era who was blacklisted from Hollywood for being a member of the Communist party, but continued to write films regardless. Don’t get me wrong, I am obsessed with Bryan Cranston and he was the best part of the film, but his performance didn’t wow me or move me. Oscar Isaac (yes, of the new “Star Wars” fame) would have been an excellent alternative choice for his work in “Ex Machina” (which is an amazing film if you haven’t seen it yet). He played the perfect chaotic, mad genius in the film, and it really elevated the film as a whole, which is what a great actor does.
I could list several other possibilities, like Tessa Thompson for Actress in a Supporting Role for her work in “Creed,” Benicio Del Toro for “Sicario,” and Will Smith for “Concussion,” but I think I have gotten my point across. Hopefully next year’s Oscars will have a greater diversity of nominees and films.