Monday, January 25, 2016

Blacks in Film

For the second year in a row, only white actors were nominated in the top four categories for Academy Awards. #Oscars So White exploded igniting a bevy of conversations about Hollywood’s lack of diversity. Spike Lee, Jada Pinkett and Will Smith announced they’d be staying home and called for a boycott of the February 28th broadcast. Within a week, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' board of governors unanimously approved a series of changes designed to double the number of women and minorities in the academy by 2020 and limit lifetime voting rights. Even with these new rules, it will take at least a decade for the demographics of the voting members of the academy to change significantly.
My nominees would have included Idris Elba as Best Supporting Actor for Beast of No Nation, as well as a Best Actor nod to Sam Jackson for the Hateful 8. (I was surprised that my other friends didn’t feel Sam had been overlooked this year. But hey, the nominations are subjective. That’s why we need a diverse nominating committee.) And I would have added Straight Outta Compton to the best picture category, a particularly prickly omission since 10 films can be included in this category and only eight were nominated. The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution was ignored but they did nominate What Happened Miss Simone in the best documentary category.
Good work by blacks in the film industry was ignored this year. That was frustrating but remember last year? Selma and Belle (a British import)—was there anything else? That’s what disturbs me, that so few movies featuring black characters are green-lighted.