Diversity of Oscar nominations: Best Actress still matters

The last time a black actress won the Academy Award for Best Actress was Halle Berry for “Monster’s Ball” 20 years ago.

“Sellable variety” is what the industry calls it, yet Academy Awards progress has increased, as seen in today’s nominations for the 94th Academy Awards. Social media movements like #OscarsSoWhite have forced a response from the Academy. And, to their credit, they have made extensive changes designed to increasingly diversify its membership. But no matter how diverse, voters cannot vote for films and performances that are not always available. It is up to the studio.

The candidates are as diverse as “King Richard“”The Tragedy of Macbeth”and”West story, ” No Academy Awards are needed to endorse them, but the Academy may need these films to attract viewers. Ratings for the Oscar drama hit an all-time low in 2021, but it’s been a strange year. And in a weird year like last, surprises won’t surprise.

Let’s take a look at the main categories.

Macbeth's Tragedy

“The Tragedy of Macbeth”

Apple / A24

Best photo

Last year “Nomadland” directed and co-produced by Chloé Zhao won an Oscar.

Last year, one of the nine nominated films – Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite” – met the standard. It also won an Oscar in this category.

That means for two years in a row, the Best Picture award has been for a film directed by a filmmaker of color.

This year there are three nominations: “King Richard” by Reinaldo Marcus Green, “Nightmare Alley” by Guillermo del Toro and “Drive My Car” by Ryusuke Hamaguchi.

And although it looks like the leader is “Dog Power”, they are all very likely to win.

Will Smith in "King Richard"

“King Richard”

Anne Marie Fox

Best Director

Oscar voters seem to have begun to recognize the strengths in the work of black directors. Over the past four years, a filmmaker of color has won the Oscar in this category four times: Chloé Zhao for “Nomadland” (2021), Bong Joon Ho for “Parasite” (2020), Alfonso Cuarón for “Roma.” (2019), and Guillermo del Toro for “The Shape of Water” (2018). This year, Ryusuke Hamaguchi is the only POC nominated in the Best Director category, for “Drive My Car.”

One surprising thing is that Reinaldo Marcus Green, in particular, was given “King Richard’s” other nominations (Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Picture).

Also snubbed was Chilean Pablo Larrain (“Spencer”).

Best Actress

It continues to be one of the least diverse categories in history, with just seven actresses of color nominated in the past decade – a drought that speaks to the shortage of leading roles for women of color. color. A woman of color hasn’t won the category since Halle Berry won for “Monster’s Ball” 20 years ago. One surprise this year was Jennifer Hudson (“Respect”). She’s been to a big dance before, winning Supporting Actress for “Dreamgirls,” but she has faced stiff competition from Kristen Stewart (“Spencer”), Olivia Colman ( “The Lost Daughter”), Nicole Kidman (“Being the Ricardos”), and Jessica Chastain (“Tammy Faye’s Eyes”).

"West story"

“Western Tales”

Disney

Best Actor

It’s no surprise that Will Smith and Denzel Washington are nominated. It’s been a year with very few BIPOC contenders in the main categories and one of them could go away with a win in this category. My money goes to Smith, who stars in one of the year’s fun, mainstream movies about two of this century’s most famous athletes. Washington won one and Smith seems to have been campaigning for a trophy for years, so if someone wins, I’ll give it to him.

Best Supporting Actress

Support categories are always where black performers have been nominated and won. Actresses of color have won Oscars in six of the past 11 years: Mo’Nique, Octavia Spencer, Lupita Nyong’o, Viola Davis, Regina King and Youn Yuh-Jung. And this year is no less competitive when Ariana DeBose (“West Side Story”) and Aunjanue Ellis (“King Richard”) both received nominations.

Ruth Negga (“Pass”) seems like a lock, but she can’t cut it.

Ellis may have the edge for many of the same reasons as Will Smith. Alternatively, there may be a desire to correct the story: that Oracene Price clearly had an impact on who the Williams sisters would become, is a story that has since been replaced by that of Richard Williams.

"A hero"

“A hero”

Amazon Studios

Best Supporting Actor

Corey Hawkins (“The Tragedy of Macbeth”), David Alvarez (“West Side Story”) and Jeffrey Wright (“The French Dispatch”) all seem like rivals in a crowded, but nada field.

Best Adapted Screenplay

It is also one of the least diverse categories in history. And this year too. However, when BIPOC writers are nominated, their chances of winning are very high. To wit, over the past decade, writers of color have been nominated 10 times and won 5 times: “Precious” (Geoffrey Fletcher), “12 Years a Slave” (John Ridley), “Moonlight” ” (Barry Jenkins), “BlacKkKlansman” (Kevin Willmott and Spike Lee, co-written with Charlie Wachtel and David Rabinowitz), and “Jojo Rabbit” (Taika Waititi).

Last year, Chloé Zhao (“Nomadland”), Kemp Powers (“One Night in Miami…”) and Ramin Bahrani (“The White Tiger”) were nominated. None of them went home with the trophy, which was presented to “The Father” scribes Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller.

This year Ryusuke Hamaguchi and Takamasa Oe are co-nominated for “Drive My Car”, the film adaptation of the short story of the same name by Haruki Murakami. History shows they could be lovers.

Snubbed: Guillermo del Toro’s adaptation (with Kim Morgan) of “Nightmare Alley” by William Lindsay Gresham.

Guillermo del Toro

Guillermo del Toro

© IFC Midnight / Courtesy Everett Collection

Best Original Screenplay

Another category known historically for its lack of diversity, two writers of color were nominated last year: Shaka King (“Judas and the Black Messiah,” co-written with Will Berson) and Lee Isaac Chung (“Minari”). The Oscars finally went to the only woman nominated: Emerald Fennell for “Promising Young Woman”.

The last win for a black writer was the year before when Bong Joon Ho and Han Jin-won took home the Oscars for “Parasite”.

In the past 10 years, writers of color have won three times: Bong and Han for “Parasite,” Jordan Peele for “Get Out” and “Birdman,” co-written by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Armando Bo, Alexander Dinelaris Jr. and Nicolás Giacobone.

This year, all eyes will be on Zach Baylin, whose “King Richard” is getting a lot of attention.

The 94th Academy Awards will be held on Sunday, March 27, 2022, in Hollywood and televised live on ABC and in more than 200 territories worldwide.

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https://www.indiewire.com/2022/02/oscars-2022-nominations-diversity-1234697195/ Diversity of Oscar nominations: Best Actress still matters

Olly Dawes

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