After making some major strides last year, the nominations for the 92nd Annual Academy Awards are basically #OscarsSo WhitePart 2: #OscarsSoWhiterAndWithMoreMen, a hashtag originated in 2015 by April Reign for the lack of diverse nominees. The Academy Awards took the non-inclusive torch that was carried by the BAFTA Awards and the Golden Globes. Only two actors of color were nominated in the major acting categories while women were shut out of Best Director. It was at least refreshing to see John Cho and Issa Rae unveil the nominations early Monday morning because they provided much-needed color to the announcement — both figuratively and literally.
For Best Supporting Actress, awards season favorite Jennifer Lopez was snubbed for her role in Hustlers while people will be tweeting #JusticeForNaiNai as The Farewell‘s Zhao Shuzhen was excluded as well. Speaking of Lulu Wang’s family drama, Awkwafina, who made history as the first Asian American to win a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy/Musical, was also snubbed in the Best Actress category while awards season favorite Lupita Nyong’o was shut out for her amazing turn as Red in Jordan Peele’s Us. The saving grace for the female acting category was Cynthia Erivo who was nominated for her role in Harriet, which was just as much as a noteworthy performance as Awkwafina and Nyong’o.
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It was the same story for the men as both categories were dominated by white actors with Antonio Banderas being the lone person of color for his celebrated performance in Pedro Almodovar’s Pain and Glory. Noticeably absent from the nominations was Dolemite Is My Name Eddie Murphy, who was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award on Sunday night at the Critics’ Choice Awards. In addition, Parasite‘s Song Kang Ho, who just took home the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards for Best Supporting Actor, could have easily been included.
One of the biggest surprising non-surprise was that women were shut out of the Best Director category, following the awards season trail cleared by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and the BAFTA Awards. Of the nominees, Bong Joon Ho is representing the underrepresented for Parasite, which also didn’t come as a surprise.
The lack of women in the Best Director category is a sad tradition as only five — yes five — women have been nominated in the 92-year history of the Academy Awards: Lina Wertmüller for Seven Beauties in 1976; Jane Campion for The Piano in 1993; Sofia Coppola for Lost in Translation in 2003), Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker in 2009; and Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird in 2017. Of those, Bigelow is the sole female in the history of the Oscars to win.
There were glimpses of diversity in other categories on this year’s roster of nominees including Taika Waititi’s noms for Jojo Rabbit as well as Greta Gerwig’s screenwriting nod for Little Women. In addition, the documentary American Factory produced by Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company Higher Ground and directed by Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar was nominated for Best Documentary. Barack Obama tweeted in response to the nomination: “Glad to see American Factory’s Oscar nod for Best Documentary. It’s the kind of story we don’t see often enough and it’s exactly what Michelle and I hope to achieve with Higher Ground. Congrats to the incredible filmmakers and entire team!”
As competitive as this year’s categories were, the exclusion of people of color and women proves that progress for underrepresented voices in film is moving at a glacial pace with peaks and valleys and more stories from diverse voices are needed to be lifted and put in the spotlight in order for opportunities to be included on these lists.
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