After this year’s Oscar nominations were announced this morning, as would be expected, the film industry exploded with criticisms of the nominations. Every year there seem to be more films that are “snubbed,” and this year there more than a few shocking nominations. In my opinion, these poor choices are due entirely because of the lack of diversity in the Academy’s voters.
In an extensive study by the LA Times last year, they found that of the 5,765 voters, nearly 94% are white and 77% male. Only about 2% of the voters are black, and even fewer are Latino. Moreover, the Oscar voters have a median age of 62, with voters under 50 constituting a meare 14% of the membership.
Although many voters have appeared on screen within the past two years, membership is for life, so there are a large number of voters who no longer have any other meaningful involvement in the industry. The organization’s tremendously skewed demographics basically mean that to win an Oscar, the aspect of the film in questions must appeal to old white men who may or may not still be involved in the film industry.
Each year these biases seem more pronounced, and this year is no exception. The Academy Awards have long been hailed as the most prestigious awards in the film industry, but I am beginning to question whether or not they still serve as the best judge of a film’s merits.
Here are some of the individuals and works I believe got snubbed at this year’s Oscar ceremony:
“The Dark Knight Rises” and Christopher Nolan – Although his 2010 masterpiece, “Inception” received a Best Picture nomination and Nolan has been nominated a few times for his screenwriting abilities, the Academy has still failed to recognize his directing abilities. After directing one of the most spectacular, visionary and popular trilogies in the history of cinema, you would think that the Academy would give him a nomination for at least one of the installments. This year the Academy once again failed to recognize Nolan’s talents, presumably because they have a long history of ignoring superhero films. There is no question that “The Dark Knight Rises” would have earned a nod from a younger voting pool, but the older voters failed understand that the film deals with the themes of uprisings, social unrest, political distress, and corporate greed in a truly profound way. Furthermore, the film didn’t secure a single nomination, not even a nod for its brilliant technical work.
Ben Affleck – Affleck’s brilliant work behind the camera made “Argo” a brilliant film – a film that secured a nomination for Best Picture. However, for some reason the studio still didn’t believe that he deserved a nomination for Best Director. Their logic escapes me here as I can’t possibly understand how they could give the film that Affleck brought to life the most prestigious nomination while ignoring his unbelievable work behind the camera.
Kathryn Bigelow – Once again the Academy seemed to contradict itself by nominating “Zero Dark Thirty” in the Best Picture category while leaving the director with nothing. It’s clear that Bigelow is an unbelievably skilled director – she was the first woman to win a Best Director Oscar for her brilliant 2008 film, “The Hurt Locker,” but the Academy overlooked her directorial skill in this year’s nominations.
“The Intouchables” – This was one of the most popular foreign films of the year, but somehow this brilliant comedy-drama was ignored by the Academy. The film was a bold, inspiring comedy that dealt with the powerful themes of friendship, trust and human nature.
“Cloud Atlas” – This may not have been one of the most popular films of the year, but there’s no denying that from a cinematographic and technical standpoint it was nothing short of phenomenal. The film spanned more genres than any I’ve ever seen, and it did so with several brilliant, interwoven storylines that only used a few actors. This was a film primarily for film lovers, but it is a technical masterpiece that got completely ignored by the Academy.
John Hawkes – Hawkes put on a brilliant performance in “The Sessions.” In the film, Hawkes played a man stricken by polio, and managed to communicate a wide variety of powerful emotions and portray a character of inconceivable depth and richness with only the use of his vocal inflections and facial expressions. It seemed almost guaranteed that he would receive an Oscar nomination, but the Academy seemed to overlook the tremendous talent necessary to play such a demanding role and left Hawkes with nothing.
Quentin Tarantino – The Golden Globes gave the popular yet controversial director of “Django Unchained” a nomination and the Academy gave the movie itself a number of nominations, including one for Best Picture, but they ignored Quentin entirely, presumably due to the controversy surrounding he and the work.
“Perks Of Being A Wallflower” – This brilliant film, which was shot in Pittsburgh, absolutely deserved a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay – this coming of age film, directed and written by Stephen Chbosky was based on his own acclaimed 1999 novel. The transition from the page to the screen was seamless and the film turned out brilliantly, yet the Academy didn’t recognize the effort.
Tom Hooper – The “Les Miserables” director and the 2010 Best Director Oscar winner for “The King’s Speech” was received a DGA nomination this year, but the Oscar’s didn’t recognize him. Hooper deserved the nomination, at the very least, due to the sheer size of the undertaking. He did an unbelievable job bringing the musical to life, and his revolutionary decision to have the actors sing live will leave a lasting impact on the way in which directors handle musicals in the future.