Last year Oscars was deemed with the dreaded hashtag #OscarSoWHITE because of the lack of diversity in nominees in the past. The academy seems to have taken notice and this year we are seeing a boost in nominee with people of color.
Seven people of color are being nominated in 20 acting categories. Although La La Land has set a record with the most nomination with 14, we still have the like of Denzel Washington for best actor with his performance in Fences and Ruth Negga for her groundbreaking role in Loving.
Moonlight, Lion, Fences and Hidden Figures are all made up of casts of color, and each of these films will face off in the Best Picture category. (They’re also competing against La La Land, Arrival, Manchester by the Sea, Hell or High Water and Hacksaw Ridge). Last year, the movies featured in the best picture category were The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, The Revenant, Room, Spotlight, The Martian and Mad Max: Fury Road. See the difference? None of those movies featured a lead actor or actress of color, making this year a dramatic and welcome change.
Leave it to April Reign, the writer and creator of the unforgettable hashtag, still thinks there is plenty of work to be done. “While these films this year reflect the black experience, I’m still waiting for films that reflect the Latin experience, for a romantic comedy with two LGBTQ members, for a disabled or differently-abled superhero,” she tells The Hollywood Reporter. “We’ve actually seen a step back in respect to the Asian-American and Pacific Islander experience with movies like Ghost in the Shell or Tilda Swinton in Doctor Strange. So there’s still more work for #OscarsSoWhite. We haven’t gotten there yet, but today was another step in the right direction.”
Regin goes on to add, “For far too long we’ve been given films that reflect broken people of color,” she continued. “If you look at best actress and supporting actress winners who’ve been African-American, women, like Halle Berry in Monster’s Ball, have played broken characters. Now, what we’re seeing are strong, totally realized characters like the women in Hidden Figures.”
The Oscars, which will be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel this year and take place on Sunday, Feb. 26, at the Dolby Theater, will be televised live on ABC at 7 p.m. ET.