With the Oscars under constant fire lately, people have been tweeting #oscarssowhite nonstop, and with good reason. Diversity has always been a problem when it comes to the Academy Awards, with the majority of winners being white. However, it seems that the other awards shows have been a little bit better. The SAG, PGA, and even the Director’s Guild Awards have been exponentially better when it comes to diversity. They have more specific award categories and actually seem to widen their scope. Since it’s mostly the same films being nominated, why aren’t those award shows taken more seriously?
The Oscars has always been more of a fashion show and a game of “who can kiss the most ass”. The nominees are mainly filmmakers and actors that are usually huge household names and people who have continuously been snubbed (there’s really no other explanation for Bridge of Spies to be a Best Picture nominee). But, if you look at the nominees for other award shows, such as the PGA and Spirit awards, the nominees are much more diverse. Idris Elba and Abraham Attah are recognized for their roles in Beasts of No Nation which actually resulted in a win for Elba. One of the happiest things to hear was that Kitana Kiki Rodriguez was nominated for leading female in the film Tangerine, a fantastic accomplishment for a transgender actor.
Surprisingly, the Critic’s Choice Awards’ Young Actor/Actress category was one of the most diverse categories out of any awards show. 2015 was a great year for younger actors who were completely shadowed by older actors. More importantly, most of them were actors of color. Nominees included Abraham Attah (Beasts of No Nation), Shameik Moore (Dope) and RJ Cyler (Me Earl and the Dying Girl). Even though the award ultimately went to Jacob Tremblay for Room (much deserved), it was still an amazing accomplishment to get recognized at that age.
If the Oscars had their own Young Actor/Actress award, that could open the opportunity for kids to get recognized without snubbing other deserving adult actors. The youngest person to win an Academy Award was Tatum O’Neal for Paper Moon. She was 11 years old and beat nominees three times her age. Ever though he is very deserving of an Oscar, Jacob Tremblay could easily be nominated if the Young Actor category existed. It would promise a lot more coverage in general to a lot of promising kids in the industry.
The Academy really needs to wake up and follow the example of the smaller awards shows that get little to no coverage. They had no problem including minorities in their nominees and even had some of them taking the gold. The common argument is that “there were better performances this year and they just didn’t make the cut.” So how is it that the other award shows felt differently? Either with the addition of different categories or more diversity in the Academy, it’s time to expand the scope of films beyond white dominated roles.