clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Oscar snubs: With zero minority actors nominated, the Academy needs to fix itself

#OscarsSoWhite for the second year in a row

It never fails: Every year, the Academy seems to go out of their way to snub a couple of films when they announce their nominations for the Oscars.

From Ryan Coogler's Creed and Michael B. Jordan being completely shut out to Steve Jobs and Aaron Sorkin not making the cut, the snubs were in full effect this year.

But the one issue that can not be overlooked, more than anything else, is the lack of minority actors earning nominations for their contribution to film this year.

Out of 20 possible acting nominations — including Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress — not one person of color was nominated for an award.

This ongoing issue in the Academy has been a main point of criticism for years. Last year, the Academy didn't nominate any actors of color. During the 2014 awards, only three minority actors were nominated for awards, while 2013 had two.

That means that for the past few years, the percentage of minority actors receiving nominations for their work has hovered around 10 to 15 percent. Until last year, when it plummeted to zero.

Must Read

It's not like there aren't worthy movies with deserving actors, either. One of the best movies of the year, that performed well at the box office and received plenty of critical acclaim, was Creed. Directed by Ryan Coogler (whose film Fruitvale Station was also snubbed in 2013) and starring Michael B. Jordan, everyone involved with the project was completely shut out of the nominations.

Except for Sylvester Stallone.

This isn't to say Stallone didn't deserve the nomination, but the reason the film succeeded the way it did was because of Jordan's acting and Coogler's directing. Stallone wasn't nominated because he was the best part of the film, or even exceeded expectations in the role. Stallone was nominated because he's an icon in the industry. Coogler and Jordan, although equally deserving, if not more, are not.

In the eyes of the Academy, Coogler and Jordan haven't paid their dues. And that's just plain wrong.

We can talk about how the Academy Awards don't mean anything and it's just friends voting for friends or people voting for those they want to work with, but in the eyes of the general public, the Academy Awards are still used as a guide for what the best movies of the year are. The actors that are nominated are seen as the crème de la crème of Hollywood that year. For some, that means turning them into household names and broadening their career horizons.

In 2014, Lupita Nyong'o won the award for Best Supporting Actress for her work in 12 Years a Slave. It was one of her first major roles and it was through both her incredible acting in the film and her sweep of trophies that award season that she's become a superstar with plenty of offers.

There were plenty of films this year either directed by people of color or starring minority actors that could have been nominated, but because they didn't fit into the Academy's tight-knit bubble, weren't. They probably weren't even considered.

Films like Tangerine, which made innovative use of an iPhone camera, didn't garner any nominations for the actors involved, for directing or even for its achievement in cinematography.

Films like Dope, that had one of the best written scripts of the year and walked away as one of the darlings at Sundance, were completely ignored.

Films like Straight Outta Compton, which had an incredibly strong sense of direction, were ignored by the major categories for acting and directing.

It's time that the Academy stops nominating the obvious choices (not based on talent, but celebrity) and starts expanding their searches for people that are not only deserving of the nomination, but the recognition that comes with it for years to come.

There were plenty of films this year either directed by people of color or starring minority actors that could have been nominated

The Academy's issues with diversity aside, this is still an odd year for the oscars. More than 50 percent of the nominations for acting awards went to roles for films that were snubbed from the main Best Picture category.

Both Rooney Mara and Cata Blanchett nabbed nominations for their work in Carol, but the movie itself wasn't nominated. Neither was director Todd Haynes. Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet were both nominated for their work in Steve Jobs, but the movie, director Danny Boyle and writer Aaron Sorkin were all left in the cold. Alicia Vikander and Eddie Redmayne got nods for their work in The Danish Girl, but perennial nominee, director Tom Hooper, did not. Neither did the movie.

This is what will forever be referred to as Argo Syndrome. Two years ago, Argo was nominated for Best Picture, but was grossly underrepresented in the acting categories and directing categories. It scored nominations for writing, sound editing and mixing, music and plenty of other categories (much like Carol this year), but was omitted from the major awards.

Many columnists assumed it was because the Academy had it out for Ben Affleck. Affleck's lack of a nomination even became the butt of host Seth MacFarlane's monologue.

What's bothersome about all of these actors earning nominations and not the films itself is that there's room for two more movies in the Best Picture category. According to its own rules, depnding on the percentage of votes the Academy receives, they can choose up to ten films to nominate. For the past couple of years, however, they have repeatedly gone with strange numbers like eight or nine.

Part of this problem could be solved by either narrowing the list down to five or making it mandatory that ten films be chosen for the Best Picture category. Otherwise, you find yourself in this situation over and over again.

They weren't the only snubs, either. Quentin Tarantino and The Hateful Eight were shut out of the nominations, although Jennifer Jason Leigh did receive a nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Despite his film and its star being nominated, Ridley Scott did not receive a nomination for his directorial work on The Martian.

The list goes on and on. One could make a case that Sicario not being nominated for anything this award season is an incredibly large snub, while someone else could argue that Star Wars: The Force Awakens should have been nominated for Best Picture, instead of just sweeping the craft categories.

How can the Academy claim they're representing the entire industry?

Unfortunately, the snubs will never end, but the main takeaway is that the Academy needs to focus on their extreme underrepresentation of minority actors, filmmakers and industry members. Immediately. The Academy Awards are supposed to be a representation of the best the industry had to offer during a 365 day period. By not acknowledging minority actors, directors and other talent that help make these films, how can the Academy claim they're representing the entire industry?

The answer: They can't. To argue otherwise, would simply be lying.

The 88th annual Academy Awards will air Feb. 28 at 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC.