Wed, 27 January 2016
This past week the nominees for the 2016 Academy Awards sent shockwaves through the entertainment industry. Oscar snubs for STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON, CONCUSSION, BEASTS OF NO NATION and CREED snowballed into the Motion Picture Academy being called out for its institutional racism
For the second year in a row, the major acting and Best Picture categories were bereft of nominees of color. The controversy elicited calls for a boycott from: Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith, Spike Lee and Micheal Moore, for Host Chris Rock to step down and the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite to be on the minds of Hollywood.
Each of the snubs had a specific reason for happening that had more to do with the Oscars being SoOld than being SoWhite.
STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON was a great film that was a box office success. It is however a younger skewing film that was nominated in the Best Screenplay Race. Hip movies often find themselves in that race instead of the Best Picture race. It looked doubly bad that both of the screenwriters nominated happened to be white adding an insult to injury.
CONCUSSION starred Will Smith and many saw him as Leonardo DiCaprio's chief competition for Beat Actor. The movie failed to resonate with voters or an audience. Smith came out looking like he was trying too hard for the statue and Old Hollywood hates that. His wife being the first person to call for boycott does Smith no favors in the future
BEASTS OF NO NATION and actor Idris Elba were early buzz candidates for Oscar Gold. It is a terrific performance by an up and coming star in a gritty important movie that was done in by release format. It was released day and date with Netflix and theaters. This streaming release method does not allow for buzz to build and is against the Hollywood model we have in place. It was roo much ro overcome in the end.
CREED was one of the films of the year with a hot young star-Micheal B. Jordan and director-Ryan Coogler but was never going to be a Best Picture nominee. The Academy loves longevity and has chosen to make the story about Stallone. He is the front runner and one of the films biggest surprises. It is a great performace by a Legend that overshadowed the young bucks.
In each of these cases, the snub had more to do with age than race. #OscarsSoOld was the hashtag that should have led this debate not #OscarsSoWhite.
In a move this week in answer to the controversy, the Board of Governors for the Academy has made some widespread changes to new member policy in an attempt to bring a more diverse member pool. It is also working to clean out members who may still have voting rights but are not as active in the industry. This is a direct attmempt to bring in more color but also more importantly younger blood.