Academy Award nominations: Where’s the representation?

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Upon first glance, one thing is obvious about 2020’s Academy Awards nominations: nominees were predominantly white men. Was it just a rough year for the rest of us, or is this straightforward discrimination?

To break it down, there are multiple possibilities explaining the lack of representation in the Oscars. First, there were, in fact, many movies about straight white men in the past year. Inevitably, many of these turned out to be quality films and deserve awards. In general, this is a popular trend in Hollywood anyways. Still, this creates a trend of movies premiering already with the expectation of being an “Oscar movie.” This mindset can slowly edge out the competition before they even have the chance to compete.

As many have pointed out, the Golden Globes paid much more attention to women like Awkwafina for her role in “The Farewell” and Lupita Nyong’o in “Us” and other minority groups, like the LGBTQ community. 

Although the Golden Globes are sometimes viewed as a precursor to the Oscars, the nomination list for the Oscars did not reflect the level of diversity shown in the Golden Globes. This could be because of the extremely different selection processes. While the Golden Globes are selected by film critics who are experts but still “outsiders,” the Oscars winners are selected by their peers. 

Whatever the reason, there are undeniably films that were highly anticipated to be nominated for an Academy Award. For example, Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women” received nominations for four categories but was left off the list for Best Director. Outrage at the Academy’s choices have been voiced, but it is important to consider the larger problem. Is the lack of diversity a result of a close mindedness, or does it simply reflect a lack of diversity in Hollywood as a whole?