Whitewashed Oscars: Women, people of color deserve better


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The 2020 Oscar celebration marked the 92nd anniversary of the Academy Awards. The film with the most nominations was ‘Joker,’ with 11 total nominations.

Awards season is upon us and the pinnacle of award shows, The Academy Awards, will air on Feb. 9 on ABC. This year, like many in recent history, the Oscar nominations were shrouded in controversy as the nomination in every major category were overwhelmingly white and male. 

This year many women and people of color were snubbed from the directing category while people of color were snubbed from the acting categories. This all comes with exceptions as “Parasite” director Bong Joon Ho was the only non-white nominee in the category and Cynthia Erivo was the only actor of color nominated for an acting award. 

The awards season schedule is as flawed as the narratives that swirl around Hollywood this time of year. Many of the year’s best films were snubbed because of their release schedule. The films that came out in the earlier half of the year were not represented as the earliest film was Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”

At the beginning of the year, “Us” was released to rave reviews and should have garnered Jordan Peele and Lupita Nyong’o Oscar nominations. Olivia Wilde should have gotten a nomination for directing one of the year’s best, if not decade’s best, coming-of-age films, “Booksmart.” 

One of the biggest snubs of this year’s Oscars was the lack of foreign actors. Chinese film “The Farewell” and Korean Film “Parasite” had some amazing acting and nobody from either film was represented. The whole cast of “Parasite” was nominated for their ensemble performance at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. Also snubbed was Awkwafina for her performance in “The Farewell” that showed the upcoming actress’s serious side apart from her role in “Crazy Rich Asians” and its director Lulu Wang. 

Then, there were some films that came out in the latter half of the year that still got snubbed. If you have not been following Shia LaBeouf’s career post “Indiana Jones,” then you really should because he has done some amazing films. “Honey Boy” is no exception; he has an outstanding, raw performance and the screenplay is fantastic. Director Alma Har’el should have been nominated for directing as well. Greta Gerwig, another amazingly talented female director, got snubbed for “Little Women.”

There were so many talented people that got snubbed from the Oscars, but I also can’t deny that this was a great year. The problem is that there is too much group-thinking that goes into Oscar nominations. The window to qualify may be wide but most films that are nominated are between October and December. With more and more studios fighting for a seat at the Oscars, more Oscar-worthy films are coming out at the end of the year to stay in the Oscars conversation. as the voting process is going on. 

The Oscars are still relevant and in a world of billion-dollar franchises, people need to realize the Oscars are a celebration of art. While you can make the argument that “Avengers” is art, its true art comes from its technical accomplishments. The main categories (Acting, Directing, Cinematography, Writing, and Best Picture) are honoring the ones that show true artistic range. 

The Oscars are still underrepresented but that does not mean they are irrelevant. The Oscars set a standard in filmmaking and the voting and nominating members of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences needs to realize that even just a nomination legitimizes a film that some people might have skipped on. Having only white males represented is detrimental to the stories that are told going forward but also show who is allowed to tell them. Women and people of color are making extraordinary contributions to the art form and need to be recognized.