It’s easy to over-narrativize The Academy Awards or Oscar 2020, as we know it, the nominations, sexism, racism et all. But given a close to 100 years of legacy, it feels like The 92nd Academy Awards 2020 is taking a step backward in time.
It’s Oscar time! The 92nd Academy Awards are all set to recognize the best performances of the art and cinema across the world. October to January is the golden period for movie makers and actors when talent is recognized by various bodies like BAFTA, Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, Golden Globe Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards and more.
But THE validation comes from The Academy Awards or Oscars as we know it.
Diversity and Inclusion
With a legacy close to 100 years, we assume that The Academy Awards’ Oscars must be diversified but that’s not the case. The Academy has always been criticized for the lack of diversity.
“While the corresponding industries like fashion, streaming platforms and publications are taking a step forward in a bid to be more inclusive, the white and whiter Oscar nominations seems like a step back. “
Case in point 11 nomination holding Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker. The movie is an amazing clap back to multi million superhero movies without the superhero in it. The sensitivity it portrays mental health with, all coupled with Phoenix’s performance – makes it a movie worth nominating but 11?? Guess even Phoenix isn’t convinced!
On the stage of recently concluded BAFTA awards, actor Joaquin Phoenix was bit conflicted about his win. Phoenix addressed this in his acceptance speech and said, “…because so many of my fellow actors who are deserving don’t have that same privilege.” Further adding, “We send a very clear message to people of colour that ‘you’re not welcome here. “I’m ashamed to say that I’m part of the problem, because I’ve not ensured that the sets I’ve worked on are inclusive.”
It’s commendable for Phoenix to use the podium and address the racism and inequality issues in the industry. His sentiments are echoed by director of The Farewell, Lulu Wang who aptly tweeted, “An uncomfortable silence filled the hall for a long noticeable moment.”
The criticism about racist ways of industry is an unpredictable territory given three years back 7 out of 20 actors were people of color – tempting one to almost claim victory. But it’s true none the less given the for most nominated movies, Joker, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, The Irishman – all are about white men, backed by the legacy of white actors and the directors.
And this year’s nominations have taken snub-ry to another level by not recognizing the contribution of artistes like Lupita Nyong’o, Jamie Foxx, Da’Vine Joy Randolph and Eddie Murphy — all Asian actors that have delivered some impeccable performances in the past year.
Of Artistry & Sexism
It’s easy to think that Hustler didn’t get a nomination because well Jennifer Lopez isn’t white enough obviously but perhaps there’s more to it. Hustler is a movie about former stripers who band together to finagle their way around their wealthy Wall Street clients. Directed by Loren Scafaria, Jennifer Lopez bagged a SAG nomination and Golden Globe for her performance.
But to bag an Oscar maybe JLo needs to play a critically ill, dying mother or something because learning to pole dance isn’t transformative or good enough. Where’s the prep or integrity in it for a 50-year-old female performer? There’s no body transformation or mental torture to be recognized as art.
But no wait, Little Woman’s got a nomination for Best Picture and Best Director – an all female cast including director Greta Gerwig.
Now you see, we are in the unpredictable territory again.
Towards the end of Gerwigs’ Little Women, Jo March says, “Who will be interested in a story of domestic struggles and joys? It doesn’t have any real importance.” To which her sister Amy replies, “Maybe we don’t see those things as important because people don’t write about them.” This part is not borrowed by the classic by the same name – it’s a sentiment that echoed in her work.
Analyzing her own screenplay Gerwigs told Vanity Fair that it was little too close to the nose but important. Elaborating it she adds, “I still think we very much have a hierarchy of stories. I think that the top of the hierarchy is male violence—man on man, man on woman, etc. I think if you look at the books and films and stories that we consider to be ‘important,’ that is a common theme, either explicitly or implicitly.”
Well, Lopez or Grewigs need not to be a victim of the Academy’s sexism. Their work is beyond the confusing territories of Oscar nominations and October-December charade.
It’s testament that these women or coloured people are NOT working for The Academy Awards’s Oscar or to be considered equals but like a true artist by their sheer desire to create.