88th Annual Academy Awards bracing for another Tsunami of bad press
Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs was diplomatic but clearly disappointed when I spoke to her at this morning’s Oscar nominations about the omission of African American-driven films like Straight Outta Compton, Concussion, and Beasts Of No Nation. “Of course I am disappointed, but this is not to take away the greatness (of the films nominated). This has been a great year in film, it really has across the board. You are never going to know what is going to appear on the sheet of paper until you see it,” she told me, while acknowledging the Academy’s very public efforts at diversity are moving too slowly. “We have got to speed it up.”
Already the #OscarsSoWhite hash tag from last year’s glaring lack of diversity in the acting nominations is back in action, and you could see at this morning’s announcement for the 88th Annual Academy Awards that officials were bracing for another tsunami of bad press regarding the lack of diversity on the list, especially regarding black artists. And despite Ang Lee’s and Guillermo del Toro’s presence in reading the nominations today, there was little to cheer about in the Asian and Latino communities also (with the BIG exception of last year’s big Oscar winner Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu’s presence with The Revenant).
This is despite big efforts by all concerned to deliver those missing nominations. Netflix, for instance, put a huge campaign behind Idris Elba for Beasts, and Will Smith gave arguably the finest performance of his career in Concussion. Recent National Society Of Film Critics Best Actor winner Michael B. Jordan, star of Creed, was even passed over, even as his co-star Sylvester Stallone was nominated in the Supporting Actor race. Creed‘s young director Ryan Coogler was also overlooked in the directing contest.
The cast of Compton also failed to break through. In fact — produced, directed, and starring a strong African American team — received only one nomination, Original Screenplay for Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff, S. Leigh Savidge and lan Wenkus — who are all white. Universal, which distributed the film, also did a very costly print and television campaign for the film aimed at getting into the Best Picture race. It didn’t happen.
However, I somehow do not believe that one person on the above list would gripe. But is it fair to blame the Academy for this? They have certainly handed Oscars to many black performers in the past and just two years ago gave its Best Picture prize to 12 Years A Slave and Supporting Actress to Lupita Nyong’o. It wasn’t long ago when Denzel Washington and Halle Berry won the top two acting prizes in the same night. And the organization has really tried to shake things up in the membership, with many minorities, not just African Americans, gaining entrance to the exclusive club in recent years — particularly since Boone Isaacs became president and Dawn Hudson got the CEO job.
Boone Isaacs today pointed out the aforementioned presence among Latinos in today’s nominations with Gonzalez Iñárritu’s Revenant leading all movies with 12 nominations, as well as the high number of women producers and writers on the list this year. But there is no question the headlines hurt. And can the Academy really do anything about a democratic vote in which more than 6000 members cast a private ballot?
This almost unreadable article was originally written by Pete Hammond. After doing a bit of research on this particular writer I know what I would not want my work to sound like or even be like. This particular story is wrought with lousy oversights, discriminatory inferences, one that I found to be simply racist. The guy (Hammond) simply does not understand the Academy — moreover, in lieu of the events of 2015 no way should Yahoo be publishing it.