While movie fans might disagree over whether Oscar snubs like Jennifer Aniston and Gone Girl deserved to be left out of the race, it seems that nearly everyone is in agreement that the Academy's near-shutout of Selma was unwarranted — everyone, that is, except Anthony Mackie. Speaking with The Grio, the actor said that the reason for Selma's trouble is that "people are just tired of being bombarded with race right now," and that because of that, "everybody is shying away from certain topics and certain movies.”
And the film's subject matter isn't the only explanation for why it failed to get more Oscar nominations, explained Mackie. The actor, who, ironically, is currently starring in the racially-focused drama, Black or White, expressed his view that the film's performances simply weren't as good as its competitors, saying that “if you look at all the movies and actors that are nominated, they all gave damn good performances."
“Me specifically, if that’s something I want, I have to step my game up," he added. "I have to do better movies and I have to act better.”
I don't even know where to start. It's sad that Mackie believes that people are tired of race, when even just the outcry over Selma's snubs shows that this is completely untrue. If anything, now is the time that people — audiences, filmmakers, and studios alike — are embracing the concept of race with more force that they ever have, whether through getting films like Selma made and seen or casting diverse actors on primetime TV. And out of the realm of pop culture, events like Ferguson and the Eric Garner case have put a spotlight on race that's caused the entire country to pay attention and react, questioning long-held policies and demanding necessary change.
No one, except perhaps Mackie, is "tired" of hearing about race, and even if that wasn't the case, that's still no reason that a movie like Selma shouldn't succeed. The film is about one of America's greatest and most prominent leaders, showcasing an important time in our country's history and discussing many themes — justice, courage, oppression — relevant to all of our lives. Race is a major aspect of the movie, yes, but it's not the only one, and to simplify it so is ignoring everything else the film is about.
And as for Mackie's belief that the performances in Selma are just simply not up to par? Well, opinions can differ, but I'd be hard-pressed to find another viewer out there who didn't feel moved by David Oyelowo's speeches or awed by Carmen Ejogo's portrayal of King's resilient wife. The movie's performances are one of its strongest elements, and while the nominated actors from other films are certainly deserving, it's ridiculous that not even one of Selma's leads was brought into the mix.
Yet Mackie apparently disagrees, and while it's certainly disheartening to hear his views, it's at least a comfort to know that so many others were outraged over Selma's snubs and are vowing to help Hollywood embrace diversity. Perhaps the actor will reconsider if Black and White — a movie about a white man's fight for custody of his black granddaughter, that's most certainly about race —does well at the box office, because there's nothing like a few million people proving you wrong to force a person to change his tune.