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For only the second time in nearly two decades, the 20 Academy Awards acting nominations went to a group made up entirely of white actors and actresses.
Among the notable snubs was David Oyelowo, who received praise for his turn as the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma.
In 2011, the 20 nominees also were entirely white. Before that, one has to go back to 1998 for an all-white acting group.
The all-white nominees list comes at a time when Hollywood is fielding criticism for not doing enough to promote diversity in filmmaking. And just last month, Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal and producer Scott Rudin were apologizing for leaked emails that appeared to be racially insensitive. Rudin was nominated this morning for producing best picture nominee The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Al Sharpton — who formed a Hollywood diversity committee in response to the leaked emails — reacted angrily to the nominees list in a statement released in the wake of this morning’s announcement: “The lack of diversity in today’s Oscar nominations is appalling. … With all of the talent in Selma and other Black movies this year, it is hard to believe that we have less diversity in the nominations today than in recent history.” Sharpton added, “The movie industry is like the Rocky Mountains, the higher you get, the whiter it gets.”
The Oscar acting nominations are typically a reflection, in some part, of the best roles of the year available to actors and actresses, which makes 2015’s lineup troubling. The two writing categories also were dominated by white men. Not a single woman was nominated in either category.
Though the Academy doesn’t reveal a breakdown of its membership, a 2012 report by the Los Angeles Times found that of the nearly 6,000 members, 94 percent are white, 77 percent are male and 86 percent are age 50 or older.
Last year, actress Lupita Nyong’o took home the best supporting actress Oscar for the film 12 Years a Slave, which featured a mostly black cast and also won the best picture statuette. But this year’s Oscar nominees, including the best picture heat, has a decidedly racially homogenous feel, with the exception of Selma, which was nominated for the top prize.
But Selma helmer Ava DuVernay was overlooked in the best director category, which was all male, with Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu representing the lone example of diversity. Despite its strong reviews — Selma has a 99 percent Fresh rating with critics on RottenTomatoes.com — and epic scope, the film only received one other nomination: best original song. If DuVernay had been nominated in the director category, she would have been the first black female director ever recognized. In response to the nominations, DuVernay offered a diplomatic tone on Twitter: “Happy Birthday, Dr. King. An Oscar gift for you. To SELMA cast + crew led by our miracle David Oyelowo! To Common + [John ] Legend! Kudos! March on!”
Twitter became a popular place to vent over the lack of diversity in the 2015 Oscar nominations. Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn was one of the first to weigh in on the nominees: “Apparently 93% of Academy voters are white, 76% of them are male, and 0% of them are made of Legos.” (The Lego Movie also was considered a snub when it didn’t make the cut for best animated film.)
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