Every year on one big night, Hollywood gathers at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles to celebrate the biggest achievements in film. The ceremony, taking place this upcoming Sunday night, will hand out awards to the best of the best in both technical and artistic fields within the world of cinema. Of course there’s always discourse surrounding who the voting body will pick for each award.
Some of the debate is just fans fighting for the movies they support. A topic that comes up time and time again though — for good reason — is the lack of recognition of minorities by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that organizes the affair.
Back in 2015 and 2016, the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite became a phenomenon on social media following the Academy nominating only white actors and actresses in the main categories two years in a row. Multiple actors and actresses responded by boycotting the event, and the Academy promised to do better.
Years later, the amount of women and people of color in the Academy voting body has increased significantly. Movies such as “Moonlight” received their deserved recognition for portraying experiences of minorities in this country. Despite attempts at growth, not one woman was nominated for Best Director this year, and Scarlett Johannson was nominated for more acting awards than all people of color combined.
But it's not for a lack of suitable and deserving contenders. Lupita Nyong’o was brilliant as the leading woman in “Us.” Awkwafina won the Golden Globe for her performance in “The Farewell.” Jennifer Lopez stunned audiences in “Hustlers.” Greta Gerwig directed one of the best films of the year, “Little Women.” The entire Korean cast of “Parasite” won best acting ensemble at the SAG awards. The list could go on and on.
There are countless reasons this could be happening, but the main one is that the voting body is just too white, too male, and too old. Despite claims that the Hollywood elite are all raging liberals, the problems start to shine through when movies like “Green Book,” a white savior movie, wins Best Picture over foreign masterpieces such as “Roma,” in last year’s awards.
There’s a chance it could happen again, just one year later. “Parasite” is universally loved by critics and fans alike, hailed as a revolutionary, shining above the competition even in a year that was particularly strong for films. The problem is, it’s not in English.
Despite “Parasite” entirely deserving every award it was nominated for, it’s looking like the odds are in favor of “1917,” a war movie consisting primarily of white men and directed by a white man. Many will argue it's a technical accomplishment in film-making, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t an extraordinarily safe pick for Best Picture. It's something that the voters have proven they prefer awarding in the past.
In an event created to showcase the best of movies each year, the Academy needs to lift up artists of all races, genders, and sexualities. It can’t keep neglecting culturally significant works of art just because they’re made by a woman or performed by people of color. That neglect will cause the entire event to lose even more relevance than it already has, as these are real issues of representation.
Honestly, is it necessarily a bad thing if big Hollywood awards lose relevance? Art is subjective, after all. I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see if the Academy can get its act together.
Wyatt Hall is a sophomore from Bonner Springs studying business analytics.