There’s plenty of talk going around about how the Oscars are “too white” and that there is a systemic unfairness toward ethnic minorities in film’s biggest awards ceremony. So, I decided to look at all of the films I saw this year and try to compile a performances list with five nominees in each category that reflects what I thought were the best performances, away from all of the campaigning and politics that are involved with getting an Oscar nomination. I’m interested in seeing whether there is a race discrepancy in Academy voting or just in the film industry giving parts as a whole. What I’ve found is not that the Academy is unfairly overlooking non-white actors, it’s that those actors aren’t being placed in proper positions by the production companies who make the movies. Looking through my list, as you’ll see below, I’d only nominate 1 Black Actor and 2 Latino Actors out of all of the films of the whole year. It’s not that the Oscars were biased, it’s that films as a whole are not diverse enough, leading to a lack of diversity at the Oscars.
Some of the ethnic “snubs” are just unfair comparisons. We all love Will Smith, but he was not good enough in Concussion to warrant a nomination, regardless of race. In the same breath, although a good film, Straight Outta Compton is not worthy of a Best Picture nomination. Those gripes should be dispelled because it’s only adding false fuel to a fire that I’m attempting to discover whether or not is legitimate. Michael B. Jordan for Creed being left off? Okay. Idris Elba for Beasts of No Nation? Okay, another decent suggestion, but you can leave the Straight Outta Compton talk at the front door. Let’s not be ridiculous just to seem progressive.
In terms of the last five years of Academy voting, there have been seven black actors/actresses to receive a nomination for their work. They are as follows:
-Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer for The Help
-Denzel Washington for Flight
-Quvenzhane Wallis for Beasts of the Southern Wild
-Barkhad Abdi for Captain Phillips
-Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong’o for 12 Years a Slave
This means that out of 100 acting nominees over the last five years, 7% of them are African-American, which would be about a 5.5-6% under-representation in terms of the population of the country as a whole. The real issue is Latino actors, there have been only two in that span (Berenice Bejo for The Artist and Demian Bichir for A Better Life). They are underrepresented by about 15%. So, it’s true. The Oscars are too White.
The problem, however, is not the voters. It’s not like there were blatant great performances by Ethnic Minorities that would warrant a nomination this year. It’s sad, but as I stated before and you’ll see below, only Oscar Isaac and Benicio Del Toro (Latino) and Samuel L. Jackson (Black) would make my list of nominees, which would mean a strong lack of diversity in the movie industry. I am by no means a prejudiced Oscar voter, I just don’t think there are enough roles for Black and Latino actors TO BEGIN WITH. The Academy is more than willing to reward a great performance, no matter who it is, and two of the winners from above are Black. The blame should be on the movie production companies who white-wash their movies. Just look at Aloha from this year. So spare your hatred for the Academy voters, and instead turn it toward the white CEOs who refuse to work outside of their comfort zone. As you can see from my nominees below, the voting from myself, a young, progressive person growing up during this time of social awareness, isn’t much less white-based. Therein lies the problem. It’s the same reason you don’t see many critics groups speaking out against the Academy, because even all of the liberal journalists know that there isn’t enough to pick from. The racism is systemic in the industry, not the Oscars.
- Leonardo DiCaprio-The Revenant
- Johnny Depp- Black Mass
- Michael Fassbender- Steve Jobs
- Eddie Redmayne- The Danish Girl
- Samuel L. Jackson- The Hateful Eight
Honorable Mentions: Matt Damon (The Martian), Michael B. Jordan (Creed), Ian McKellen (Mr. Holmes), Richard Gere (Time Out of Mind)
-My actors list is fairly similar to the Academy’s other than the fact that the Bryan Cranston nomination for Trumbo is a complete joke. He’s a popular name in a showy role, but his performance wasn’t that strong. The first four on my list are 3 nominees and the big snub, Johnny Depp of Black Mass who was intimidating and excellent as Whitey Bulger in the year’s most underrated crime movie. I would also replace Matt Damon, although he is my first honorable mention, with Samuel L. Jackson for The Hateful Eight because Jackson carried that movie. He was excellent. It’s ironic that none of the outrage is about his snub as a Black actor. He was great.
- Brie Larson- Room
- Saoirse Ronan- Brooklyn
- Cate Blanchett- Carol
- Daisy Ridley- Star Wars: The Force Awakens
- Lily Tomlin- Grandma
Honorable Mentions: Juliette Binoche (Clouds of Sils Maria), Emily Blunt (Sicario)
-Here, we have five white actresses, and going down my list, I couldn’t think of a single ethnic minority actress who starred in a film this year who would even be close to awards caliber. There just weren’t any put in the opportunity to succeed. The closest bid would be Kitana Rodriguez for Tangerine. Other than that, it was the films that were white-loaded, not the Oscars. I actually hated the Jennifer Lawrence nomination by the way, Joy was shitty, what is she doing on the list?
Best Supporting Actress:
- Alicia Vikander- The Danish Girl
- Alicia Vikander- Ex Machina (She Can’t Have Both so Scrap This One)
- Rachel McAdams- Spotlight
- Kate Winslet- Steve Jobs
- Julie Walters- Brooklyn
- Kristen Stewart- Clouds of Sils Maria
Honorable Mentions: Dakota Johnson (Black Mass), Rooney Mara (Carol), Mya Taylor (Tangerine)
-Again, outside of maybe Tangerine, we lack any diversity in this category as well. Most of the film executives cast white women in their leading roles, and this is not exception, just also peek at the above category as well. Isn’t it funny that an unknown Swedish Actress stole the whole year by giving two of the best 4 or 5 performances of the whole year. I’d be willing to guarantee that’s why Jennifer Jason Leigh for The Hateful Eight got in, they couldn’t nominate Alicia twice.
Best Supporting Actor:
- Sylvester Stallone- Creed
- Mark Ruffalo- Spotlight
- Benicio Del Toro- Sicario
- Oscar Isaac- Ex Machina
- Michael Keaton- Spotlight
Honorable Mentions: Tom Hardy (The Revenant), Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies), Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation)
-Here, we get two Latino actors nominated, and Del Toro openly did not campaign for this Oscar nomination so it could be why he was left off, and one African-American actor in the Honorable Mentions in Idris Elba, who was great in the movie, but not quite Oscar worthy. I loved Stallone and Ruffalo the best in this group because they both nailed the ‘Oscar speech’ where the audience is supposed to cry. Hell, I did. In both movies.