In the past couple of years, viewers have started waking up to the obvious biases of Oscar voters: war movies, period dramas, movies about movies, anything by film veterans like Scorsese and Tarantino and complex, usually white male leads. The Oscar nominations remain generic even with this year’s outlier “Parasite” from Korean director Bong Joon-ho.
After the #Oscarssowhite movement in 2016, the Oscars are finally being held accountable for their active lack of diversity. Subsequently, the award show put some effort into diversifying. Previous nominations and rare wins of diverse films were spot on like “Moonlight,” but other times were offensive like “Green Book.” Now the movement has toned down and resumed the original program.
It is no secret that Hollywood is a playground for the dominant ideology. The industry has no qualms of keeping out people of color and women unless it is in a powerless role or they miraculously make millions of dollars. If change doesn’t happen soon, the already small percentage of non-white individuals and women working in Hollywood will get smaller.
There are not any women of color nominated, except for Best Actress in a Leading Role with Cynthia Erivo for “Harriet.” It is another cliché in the Oscars that when they decide to nominate a film with a focus on people of color that the normal default is black suffering, civil rights stray away from this is when there is enough criticism and money involved, which leads to nominations for films like “Black Panther,” “Moonlight” and “Parasite.”
The only Best Picture-nominated film directed by a woman is “Little Women” by Greta Gerwig, but the director somehow did not make it into the Best Director category. A film is only as good as the script and the director. Gerwig took on a project that has been remade multiple times, yet she still somehow made a 150-year-old story fresh and critically acclaimed. Gerwig or other female directors like Melina Matsoukas for “Hustlers” or Lulu Wang for “The Farewell” should have been inserted over Scorsese, who already has a Best Director award and will not lose or gain anything from another win.
The past year was a great one for female and minority directors on both the small and big screen, and the Oscars missed out on the opportunity to kick off the new decade with a statement of change. People are bored with the stagnant model and want to see more representation. Movies about gangsters and psychotic clowns are still enjoyable, but not with the same type of person and format. It can still be good cinema when done correctly, but seeing different stories of unsung people is more powerful and effective in bridge-building.