This year’s Academy Awards are stirring controversy—again—over the lack of diversity in its nomination pool.
After a banner 2019 that seemed to signal a much-needed shift, this year’s nominees indicate that change remains inconsistent and slow to arrive. It’s very likely that #OscarsSoWhite will start trending once again.
Among the four acting categories, the only person of color nominated was Cynthia Erivo, who earned a nod for her lead performance as Harriet Tubman in the biopic “Harriet.”
And not only are #OscarsSoWhite— there’s more white men!
“Congratulations to those men,” actor Issa Rae said dryly, as the best director nominees—five men—were announced on Jan. 13. There were no female nominees in the directing category for the 87th time in Oscar history—a direct snub to Greta Gerwig, director of the acclaimed “Little Women,” and Lulu Wang of “The Farewell,” as well as several other worthy candidates.
It was at least refreshing to see Rae, who is Black, and John Cho unveil the nominations because they provided much-needed color to the announcement —both figuratively and literally.
Among the most glaring snubs was Awkwafina, who—hello!—just won a Golden Globe for her role in “The Farewell.” She would have become just the second Asian American nominated for best actress (the first, 1936 nominee Merle Oberon, hid her South Asian heritage).
Jennifer Lopez was also thought to be a virtual shoo-in for a supporting actress nod for playing a stripper in “Hustlers.”
Critics pointed to several other acting snubs, including Lupita Nyong’o in “Us” and Eddie Murphy in “Dolemite Is My Name.”
“It’s been a long, slow battle,” said Chris Tashima, an actor-director and a member of the Academy Asians Action Committee, an informal group of Asian and Pacific Islander members of the Academy. “We’ve been very much absent. We’ve been trying to create opportunities for years. But you can’t even get nominated if you don’t get the roles.”
The highlight of the year is probably “Parasite,” which received six nominations, including Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. It is also the first South Korean movie to receive nominations for Best Picture and Best International Film. It would be a major letdown if it didn’t go home with at least one award.
Ultimately, this year’s nominations suggest that the industry continues to undervalue stories that aren’t about and by white men, especially when it comes to awards-caliber work.