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Oscars: Academy Avoids #OscarsSoWhite Reprise

This year’s directing nominations were especially diverse.
As it unveiled its nominations for the 90th Oscars today, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences avoided a reprise of the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag it earned when the noms were announced in 2015 and 2016, when all the actor and actresses nominated were white.

This year’s acting nominees aren’t quite as diverse as last year’s, when, thanks to movies like Moonlight, Fences and Hidden Figures, seven of the 20 acting nominees were people of color.

But four black actors were included in the acting categories — Daniel Kaluuya for Get Out and Denzel Washington for Roman J. Israel, Esq. for best actor, and Mary J. Blige for Mudbound and Octavia Spencer for The Shape of Water for best supporting actress.

While the Academy, which remains 87 percent white and 72 percent male, has made a concerted effort to diversify its membership in recent years, only a handful of movies focused on black characters became part of the awards conversation this year, including Jordan Peele’s racially charged horror story Get Out, which did earn a best picture nom as well as an original screenplay citation. And while Mudbound, the story of two families, one black, one white, in the Jim Crow South, did not make it into the best picture circle, it was recognized for adapted screenplay, song and cinematography. In a breakthrough for diversity, its cinematographer, Rachel Morrison, became the first woman ever nominated in that category.

The Academy’s progress toward diversity was particularly evident in the nominations for best director. Mexican-born Guillermo del Toro was nominated for his romantic fantasy The Shape of Water, which led the field with 13 nominations overall. Get Out’s Peele, who scored a directing nom, as well as an original screenplay nomination, became the fifth black director to be nominated. And Greta Gerwig became only the fifth woman nominated in the category for her coming-of-age tale Lady Bird, for which she also earned an original screenplay nom.