Oscar Nominations 2016 Prove Once Again that Diversity Will Remain a Myth
The Oscar nominations for the 88th Academy Awards were announced on Thursday morning at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.
And while some greeted the morning with jubilation and excitement, others were trying to reconcile the fact that after an impressive showcase of talent – the Academy still refuses to recognize the achievements and contributions of actors of color or even those behind the camera.
The nominations can basically be categorized as a “white wash” of nominees with absolutely no actors or actresses of colors featured in any of the acting categories.
British actor Idris Elba was considered a front runner for best actor for his work in Beasts of No Nation – but he failed to score a nomination. Will Smith who might have hoped that his performance in the controversial film Concussion would garner him a nod – didn’t receive one either. But there is no doubt that he’s unfortunate accent which sounded like a cross between a South African and East African didn’t help his case.
Abraham Attah – the promising newcomer who gave a stunning performance alongside Elba in Beasts of No Nation apparently didn’t wow the Academy enough to earn him recognition.
Sylvester Stallone got a best supporting nod for the hit flick Creed but his co-star Michael B. Jordan didn’t receive a nomination – neither did the film’s very capable director Ryan Coogler.
Straight Outta Compton got recognized in the best original screenplay category but director F. Gary Gray also failed to score a best director nomination.
Surprisingly enough, actress Jennifer Jason Leigh who has been notably absent from the award hoopla is making a comeback with a best supporting actress nomination for her role in The Hateful Eight. There is no doubt that Leigh is one of the most formidable actresses of her generation – that being said, it is hard to understand how anyone could watch Quentin Tarantino’s latest offering and be convinced that Leigh gave the kind of performance that warrants an honorable mention.
It proves that the industry is loyal to the ones they deem as worthy based on familiarity and tradition. The Academy is definitely not a progressive organization which limits the capability of voters when it comes to stepping outside of the box to embrace up and coming talents of color who deserve the spotlight based on the body of work.
If Jennifer Jason Leigh can receive a nomination – then Tessa Thompson (Creed) and Teyonah Parris (Chi-Raq) should’ve been added to the list.
Another major upset was the absence of the theme song to one of the highest grossing films of 2015. See You Again, a gorgeously affecting track was the perfect accompaniment to Furious 7 and was compiled by rapper Wiz Khalifa and singer Charlie Puth in honor of the late Paul Walker who was tragically killed in a car crash in the middle of filming the seventh installment of the blockbuster franchise.
See You Again was undoubtedly the song of the year and received accolades and recognition from every other award source except the Academy Awards. Shutting out a song that was conceived from a dramatically nostalgic point of view is quite a bold move and almost unusual for the Academy since it has been known to give in to sappy renderings every now and then.
Overall – the landscape of the oscar nominations is a brutal reminder that diversity will always remain a myth amongst the members. There is clearly no indication that this will change anytime soon or that the issue of diversity is even on the radar.
The same faces continue to populate every year almost to the point where they blend together. Matt Damon and Christian Bale who have consistently scoffed at the idea of diversity are on the list of nominees – proving that their their theory may be on track.
It is a disappointing and discouraging entrée for Black Hollywood. The only shining light lies in the hope that host Chris Rock will find a way to make the night searingly uncomfortable for his all-white audience when the ceremony takes place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Sunday, Feb 28, on ABC.
Click here for a complete list of nominees.