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Controversy outside film: Oscar nominations lack diversity

This year, the big hubbub in film talk is the alleged political agenda of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Several upsetting truths were revealed after the dust had settled.

Ninety four percent of the Academy is white, and roughly 77 percent of the members are male, with a median age of 62. These are the people charged with “unbiased” voting toward work that stands out as the best.

Note that voters can only vote for their own branch of the Academy, but all vote for the Best Picture.

“Selma” not garnering more nominations was one of this year’s biggest snubs, in spite of its compelling performance from David Oyelowo. Director Ava DuVernay is more than worthy of a nomination, and would have been the first black female nominated for Best Director.

The large amount of praise “Selma” has received speaks for itself. Oyelowo missed a nomination as well.

DuVernay screened “Selma” mid-December at the American Film Institute Fest, but the film wasn’t yet ready to be put into the hands of voters (note that having screenings ready by a certain point plays a large factor in whether or not voters see the film in time).

Paramount, the film’s producer and distributor, held back on critic screenings, and the Broadcast Film Critics Society, responsible for nominating both DuVernay and Oyelowo, were just able to see the film. “Selma” missed the Screen Actors Guild and Producers Guild of America nominations.

For those who did see “Selma” in the Academy, it was apparently worth a Best Picture and Best Song (“Glory” by John Legend featuring Common), and not being nominated for more seemed a crime. Half the fault comes down to the film not being ready in time, but the film was certainly one of the year’s best for those that have seen it.

All of the 20 nominated actors and actresses are white. Oyelowo should have been nominated for Best Actor and Gugu Mbatha-Raw (“Belle,” “Beyond the Lights”) should have been a Best Actress contender. Both categories were tough to choose for, but there’s a glaring issue with an all-white group of nominees.

“Gone Girl,” a film critics and audiences universally praised, was also heavily snubbed at the Oscars. Rosamund Pike was the film’s lone nomination, and will likely lose to Julianne Moore’s portrayal of a woman with Alzheimer’s disease.

Worst of all is Gillian Flynn missing for Adapted Screenplay. Her adaptation of the bestselling novel is easily the year’s best adapted screenplay, but she got no love. Had she been nominated, she’d be the only woman nominated in 87 years for adapting her own work.

“The LEGO Movie” was left out of the Best Animated Feature race after having swept nearly every award show. The Animated branch of the Academy believed the film wasn’t as unique and didn’t tell a “normal” story, despite the film’s commentary on a dynamic that still categorizes the world we live in. The Animated branch is more partial to claymation and a wholesome story, which unfortunately rules “The LEGO Movie” out.

Meryl Streep earned her 19th nomination, this time for Best Supporting Actress for “Into the Woods,” a role well-played but not one of the year’s best. Laura Dern earned a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her 20 minutes as a mother in “Wild,” but her portrayal as a mother in “The Fault in Our Stars” is far deeper and more involved.

These two nominations come at the expense of Jessica Chastain for “A Most Violent Year.” Since Chastain didn’t win for “Zero Dark Thirty,” she’s been killing it and providing hope for female roles. In the past year she’s starred in “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby,” “Interstellar,” “Miss Julie” and “A Most Violent Year.” That snub hurts, considering she’s one of the year’s best.

American Sniper, currently the biggest film in the world, is the most curious of the bunch. From someone who’s seen 170 films in the past year, “American Sniper” totes a great performance and has some great aspects to it, but its screenplay is repetitive and lacks depth. Those who have seen only a few movies this year are claiming it’s one of the best ever.

“American Sniper” portrays a patriot and has a lot of real-world controversy surrounding its authenticity and honesty that viewers are either ignoring or embracing. But the film’s nomination over “Nightcrawler,” “Gone Girl” and the more emotionally resonating “Fury” is something to be reexamined.

Unfortunately, we live in a world that proves precedents are still set against women and people of color.

With everything taken into account, here’s the race after most of the award shows:

oscar predictions (020215)

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