Minorities in the Oscars

`On Sunday, February 9th, 2020, the 92nd Oscars were held, seemingly reflecting the acting talent and technical excellence of actors and actresses in the film industry. The awards ceremony seems to be evolving, but reluctantly, kicking and screaming. 

This year involved some historical moments, one of them being the lowest viewership ever, bringing in 23.6 million viewers, which leaves the Oscars down 20 percent from last year’s 29.6 million viewers. Despite the decline, the Oscars show still remains a popular entertainment award ceremony. 

“If you need to find some sort of silver lining, the 92nd Academy Awards were still television’s most-watched entertainment special since the 91st Oscars. Of course, that was also totally expected,” said The Wrap’s Tony Maglio.  

Every year, many movies are nominated for several Oscars along with the cast of the nominated movies. This year, The Joker brought in 11 nominations, earning the most 2020 Oscar nominations. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, The Irishmen, and 1917 each had 10 nominations in Best Feature, Cinematography, Costume Design, and Directing. Jojo Rabbit, Little Women, Marriage Story, and Parasite were nominated six times each. 

“I think it’s important to present the problem of little diversity is important because many people don’t know about it. So, presenting those people who could get those awards should be a priority ,” said sophomore Alexandra Wortman. 

Per usual, the lack of diversity in nominations was heavily criticized.  Female directors were very active this year with Queen and Slim’s Melina Matsoukas, The Farewell’s Lulu Wang, and Little Women’s Greta Gerwig, all of which earning high ratings and reviews. In the acting category, only one person of color was nominated: actor Cynthia Erivo from Harriet. There were no female nominees for Best Director; however, Parasite’s director Bong Joon-ho was the only non-white nominee. In the history of the Oscars, only five women have been nominated for Best Director, with one win by Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker in 2009. According to The Telegraph, with 25 categories and 129 overall nominations, “Seven per cent of Best Actor nominees have so far been non-white, compared to 4.2 per cent of Best Actress nominees and 3.2 per cent for Best Director.”

“In a year where so many critically and financially successful films were directed by women, the lack of nominations reveals a deeper leadership bias on the part of the voting and nominating body that must be addressed,” said Dr. Stacy L. Smith of the University of Southern California.

Although underrepresentation has plagued the award’s ceremony, the winner for Best Picture went to Parasite, making it the first non-English film to win. Also, it became the first movie to win Best International Feature and Best Picture. Additionally, Taika Waitiki became the first winner of Maori descent to be awarded Best Adapted Screenplay for Jojo Rabbit. 

“[I think] giving more movie main character roles to women or other minorities like Chadwick Boseman; before you didn’t see African American males in roles like that. He was one of the first black main characters in Marvel as a lead and it started that trend,” said Wortman. 

In the future, minorities can only hope for better representation as this issue is being pushed into the limelight. Representation of many races and genders is important, so that people with similar backgrounds can relate to films and even learn from them. Seeing a minority in a lead role is powerful for the viewers who look like them. At the end of the day, positive representation is the best of all.