Well, that's one way to show that the film industry is not as forward thinking as we'd hoped. The 2015 Academy Award nominations were announced Thursday morning and completely ignored pretty much all of the diverse and female talent from the 2014 film slate. After such a fantastic year in diversity and women empowerment at the Oscars in 2014 with films like 12 Years A Slave and nominees like Barkhad Abdi and Lupita Nyong'o, it's incredibly maddening to think that this is the second time in 20 years that all of the acting nominations were handed out to Caucasians. And not a single woman was able to squeeze into the writing or directing races, despite some incredible contenders. The only real diversity listed in any of the major categories was for Alejandro González Iñárritu as Best Director for Birdman. So how could the Academy have actually stepped it up and continued on with the great momentum in diversity? I have a few ideas on how the list could have read on Thursday morning if diversity was actually a factor in decision making.
First things first. Where was the love for Selma? Comedian Patton Oswalt responded to the terrific film's snub in the best way imaginable on Twitter: With his expert level of snark: "SELMA? One of the best pics of the year. But the directing, script, all the acting, & cinematography? Meh. Nice song, though." The only way the Oscar list could have been rectified was if Ava DuVernay was nominated for Best Director, making her the first African American female to achieve the honor.
While Selma did make the final Best Picture nominee list, there were quite a few other films involving women that should have been granted a spot like the wonderful Reese Witherspoon-starring Wild. David Oyelowo's snub for Selma was one of the biggest surprises of the morning, and was probably the most egregious acting nomination error, considering categories like Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor were pretty much locked into place (with the exception of Marion Cotillard surprise inclusion).
But what does that say about how we look at great performances in film? Was any other person in Selma really that less deserving of a nomination than David Oyelowo, who didn't even get one himself? Did people really not appreciate the wonderful work Gugu Mbatha-Raw did this year in both Beyond the Lights and Belle? And didn't people like Tyler Perry in Gone Girl?
And then there's always the problem of the Academy not representing the diverse films in the Screenplay races. While they have finally started to embrace smaller pictures in the screenplay categories like the wonderful inclusion of Damien Chazelle's screenplay for Whiplash, they still haven't noticed people like Justin Simien for films about diversity like the Sundance favorite Dear White People, which received love from the Independent Spirit Awards. Or what about the incredible work from Chris Rock for his screenplay and film Top 5? Was that really not even worth a mention?
All I know is the Oscars haven't proved to me or the rest of the world that they really know what kinds of films deserve recognition and respect. But then again, many awards shows operate in the same way, by handing out awards to the people they know over and over again.
Here's how the nominations should have looked, if you ask me.
Gone GirlBirdmanBoyhoodThe Grand Budapest HotelThe Imitation GameSelmaThe Theory of EverythingWhiplashWild
Alejandro González Iñárritu, BirdmanRichard Linklater, BoyhoodWes Anderson, The Grand Budapest HotelAva DuVernay, SelmaMorten Tyldum, The Imitation Game
Steve Carell, FoxcatcherDavid Oyelowo, SelmaBenedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation GameMichael Keaton, BirdmanEddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette, BoyhoodLaura Dern, WildEmma Stone, BirdmanKeira Knightley, The Imitation GameCarmen Ejogo, Selma
Best Original Screenplay
BirdmanBoyhoodTop FiveThe Grand Budapest HotelNightcrawler
Best Adapted Screenplay
Gone GirlThe Imitation GameInherent ViceThe Theory of EverythingWhiplash
It's fun to dream, isn't it?
Images: Paramount Pictures