Unwelcome Sequel to #OscarsSoWhite Draws Twitter Storm
For the second year in a row, the Academy Awards failed to nominate a nonwhite actor in any of its four acting categories, drawing fierce online criticism over its lack of diversity and eliciting a response from Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs on Thursday. The glaring omission of actors of color—who last year starred in buzzed-about films including Straight Outta Compton, Creed, Concussion, Beasts of No Nation, and Chiraq—also reignited the Twitter hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, creating an unwelcome sequel to last year's near-identical controversy.
The snub comes two months after Isaacs—the Academy's first African American president—announced the creation of a five-year plan aimed at boosting diversity among Academy voters, who decide the Oscar nominations. Recognizing that the Academy cannot honor diversity if it's not already represented in film, she called on people in positions of power to hire, mentor, and promote talent of all races and backgrounds. Faced with ongoing scrutiny over its mostly white, male membership, last summer the Academy recruited more than 300 new members. About one-fourth were people of color and slightly less than one-fourth were women.
"Of course I am disappointed," Isaacs told Deadline in response to the Oscar nominations, adding that 2015 was a great year in film nonetheless. "We have got to speed [diversity efforts] up," she said.
The civil rights group National Action Network also slammed the absence of color in the Oscar nominations. "Hollywood is like the Rocky Mountains, the higher up you get the whiter it gets and this year's Academy Awards will be yet another Rocky Mountains," the group's founder, the Reverend Al Sharpton, said in a statement—apparently the same one he issued last year in response to the Oscar nominations. He announced plans to organize a Hollywood Summit next month "to bring light to those studios and others in the film industry who aren't living up to their obligations."
On Twitter, many critics roasted the Oscar nominations. Some found it ironic that comedian Chris Rock, who has been vocal about Hollywood's race problem, will serve as host for the ceremony. Others were quick to point out that Straight Outta Compton, the N.W.A biopic helmed by a black director and predominantly black producers, was nominated only for its white screenwriters.
Chris Rock is going to be hosting the hyper-white Oscars, so that should be fun.— Ashley C. Ford (@iSmashFizzle) January 14, 2016
The Oscars are like a klan rally but with bolder sartorial choices.— Saeed Jones (@theferocity) January 14, 2016
From the Oscars: You're welcome, Chris Rock.— Wesley Morris (@Wesley_Morris) January 14, 2016
And Oscars wonder why their viewership was down 18% last year! This all-white nominee things isn't going to fly, Chris Rock notwithstanding!— Charles M. Blow (@CharlesMBlow) January 14, 2016
Bryan Cranston, Eddie Redmayne, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, and Michael Fassbender were all nominated for leading acting roles this year, with supporting actor nominations going to Christian Bale, Mark Ruffalo, Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy, and Sylvester Stallone.
Brie Larson, Cate Blanchett, Charlotte Rampling, Jennifer Lawrence, and Saoirse Ronan were all honored for their work in a leading acting role, and Alicia Vikander, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kate Winslet, Rachel McAdams, and Rooney Mara earned nominations for supporting roles.
The contenders for Best Picture include Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Room, Spotlight, The Big Short, The Martian, and The Revenant. Critics have noted that three of the eight movies highlight stories about women—an improvement from last year's male-centric nominations.
Save for Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, and The Martian, the directors of each of the Best Picture contenders—Adam McKay, George Miller, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Lenny Abrahamson, and Tom McCarthy—also were nominated. Iñárritu, who is Mexican, is the one spot of ethnic diversity in the category. No women directors were nominated, for the sixth year in a row.
TakePart’s parent company, Participant Media, is a partner on Beasts of No Nation, as well as on Oscar-nominated films Spotlight, Bridge of Spies, and The Look of Silence.