The Academy Class of 2012

Let the cheers (and complaints) begin as the Academy invites 176 new members and the diversity debate begins anew.

On June 29, the moment that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the names of 176 new members invited to join, the celebrations -- and complaints -- began. Fans rejoiced to see fresh faces from often ignored comedy and genre films. "But why are there so many TV names in there?" one Academy member griped to The Hollywood Reporter. "Like, Bryan Cranston? Really? He's a TV star who moonlights as a movie actor."

The Los Angeles Times, which blasted AMPAS in February for being a 94 percent white, 77 percent male bastion, gloated that the newbie list still is only 14 percent nonwhite and 30 percent female. (Since we're counting, 19 also are Oscar winners.)

While at least one white-male voter voiced discontent with the Academy ("They're force-feeding diversity and have been anything but subtle in those meetings"), AMPAS president Tom Sherak isn't backing down. "Bottom line: The industry needs more diversity, and we're opening the doors," says Sherak. "All we're saying to the branches is, 'If there's someone of color, please look at them.' "

Another member offers a wider view of the invitees (a sampling of whom are pictured here): "The Academy focuses on getting the most qualified people, regardless of whether they're comedians, women, men, trees, bushes, shrubs, foreign or domestic. It's not diversity for diversity's sake."

THE HELP VS. THE ARTIST

The Artist won the fight for the best picture Oscar, and in the contest for the most new Oscar voters, The Artist once again came out ahead.

The Help

  • Octavia Spencer, actor
  • Jessica Chastain, actor
  • Michael Barnathan, producer

The Artist

  • Jean Dujardin, actor
  • Berenice Bejo, actor
  • Michel Hazanavicius, writer-director
  • Thomas Langmann, producer
  • Guillaume Schiffman, cinematographer
  • Laurence Bennett, production designer
  • Ludovic Bource, music

JUNIOR STATUS

Despite years of pleas to be accepted as full voting members of the Academy with a branch of their own, agents can only be associate members who get to attend events but not vote on awards. But hey, it's an honor just to be invited.

  • Ari Emanuel, WME
  • Bryan Lourd, CAA
  • Jeremy Plager, CAA
  • Ron Bernstein, ICM

BUT WILL HE ACCEPT?

Publicity-allergic director Terrence Malick may or may not accept his invitation to join the Academy. But we're hoping he shows up at the Oscars with hologram J.D. Salinger.

BOO!

He writes the tales that make the whole world shiver, but most of Stephen King's 146 IMDb credits are adaptations of his work. His screenplays, like 1982's Creepshow and 1987's Pet Sematary, are far fewer than those of many AMPAS-snubbed writers.

CALLING ALL GENRE FANS

It seems like only yesteryear that The Dark Knight dominated the box office but was shut out of the best picture race. But nowadays, fanboy faves have begun to make their way into the inner circle.

  • Sean Bean, actor, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
  • Tom Berenger, actor, Inception
  • Sam Rockell, actor, Cowboys & Aliens
  • Larry Fong, cinematographer, Super 8
  • Greg Butler, visual effects, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • Gary L.G Simpson, sound, Captain America: The First Avenger

THE STUD

For years, never-nominated Matthew McConaughey's naked torso got more attention than his acting, but he's won real respect with movies like The Lincoln Lawyer and Magic Mike.

NOW WE"RE DOING TV, TOO?

Uh oh. Not only is quality TV stealing movies' audience, its stars are better known than some recent Oscar winners. They're breaking down the prestige barrier between big and small screens, making it less unthinkable to bounce between the two.

  • Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston, Contagion
  • Justified's Margo Martindale, Million Dollar Baby
  • The Mentalist's Simon Baker, Margin Call
  • Law & Order's S. Epatha Merkerson, Terminator 2: Judgment Day
  • Mike & Molly's Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
  • 30 Rock's Ken Howard, J. Edgar

MAKE WAY FOR GALS

Last month, Meryl Streep bewailed "the shocking underrepresentation of women in our business" and asked: "Why? Why? Why? Don't they want the money?" This year, the Academy said to 52 women: "Welcome! Welcome! Welcome!"

  • Kristen Wiig, writer, Bridesmaids
  • Jennifer Yuh Nelson, animation director, Kung Fu Panda 2
  • Lucy Walker, documentary director, Waste Land
  • Kasi Lemmons, director, Talk to Me
  • Traey Edmonds, producer, Soul Food
  • Dede Gardner, producer, The Tree of Life
  • Letty Aronson, producer, Midnight in Paris
  • Deb Adair, sound, Moneyball
  • Sheena Duggal, visual effects, The Hunger Games
  • Wendy Chuck, costume designer, The Descendants
  • Anne Siebel, production designer, Midnight in Paris

THE SPINSTERS

If anybody knows how to pilot stars to a safe Oscar landing, it's people like these, who received invitations from the public relations branch. Plus, they already know their way around the red carpet.

  • CIndi Berger, PMK*BNC
  • Katie Martin Kelley, Paramount
  • Adam Kleen, Relativity
  • Eric Kops, Summit
  • Mark Woollen, Mark Woollen & Associates

THE EXECS

Here's where the push for diversity hits a wall. This year, the executive branch's invitations went out to a dozen men. But at least some of the films they champion actually star women.

  • David Glasser The Weinstein Co.
  • Greg Silverman, Warner Bros.
  • Howard Cohen, Roadside Attractions
  • Tony Safford, Fox
  • Frederick Huntsberry, Paramount
  • Nigel Sinclair, Exclusive Media

NO SUBITLES NECESSARY

Motion picture arts and sciences (and money and prestige) are increasingly international, a trend AMPAS recognized with invitees like Iran's Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi, who must choose between writers and directors branch offers.

  • Michelle Yeoh, actor, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
  • Wong Kar Wai, director, In the Mood for Love
  • Diego Luna, actor, Y Tu Mama Tambien
  • Asghar Farhadi, writer-director, A Separation
  • Jean-Pierre Dardenne & Luc Dardenne, directors, The Kid With a Bike
  • Michael R. Roskam, director, Bullhead

THE MAN BEHIND THE DIGITAL MASKS

Despite a heroic campaign by his studio and co-star James Franco, Andy Serkis got no Oscar nom for playing Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes (nor for LOTR's Gollum in 2001-03). But his invite shows that his eloquent performance-capture acting did not fall on deaf ears.

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