Oscars Almost So White as Diverse Nominees Overlooked After 2019's Historic Wins

Todd Phillips, Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino - Split-Getty-H 2019
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images; Emma McIntyre/Getty Images; John Phillips/Getty Images

Jennifer Lopez was snubbed in the supporting actress category for her critically acclaimed turn in 'Hustlers,' while 'Just Mercy' co-star Jamie Foxx didn't land an expected nomination in the supporting actor category.

One year after women and minorities made historic strides at the Academy Awards, this year's nominees list was largely noninclusive.

Although Cynthia Erivo nabbed a best actress nomination for Harriet, 19 of the 20 remaining acting nominees were white, comprising both the lead and supporting categories for men and women. Despite winning a Golden Globe last week, The Farewell's Awkwafina didn't make the cut with the Academy for lead actress.

Jennifer Lopez was snubbed in the supporting actress category for her critically acclaimed turn in Hustlers, while Just Mercy's Jamie Foxx didn't land an expected nomination in the supporting actor category. Lupita Nyong'o, who previously won a best supporting actress Oscar for 12 Years a Slave, was absent from this year's best actress race despite her strong turn in Us. Lopez, Foxx and Nyong'o all are up for SAG awards. Ruth Carter, who won best costume designer last year for Black Panther — making history in the process as the first black woman to do so — was absent from the category's nominees this year for Dolemite Is My Name, which had picked up a win for Carter last night at the Critics Choice Awards. And Beyoncé failed to land a nod in the best original song category for The Lion King’s "Spirit."

“In the past, the pushback against #OscarsSoWhite was, 'There just weren’t enough performances to nominate.' Well, that’s not the case this year,” activist April Reign, who created the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag in 2015, tells THR. “There was a wealth of talent — and not just of black performers but of various marginalized communities — that was overlooked. And it’s really unfortunate. I’m interested in what Hollywood and the Academy are going to do to make the entertainment industry reflect those that support it.”

On the director front, where Hollywood has made efforts to hire more female helmers, there were no women present in the best director category, with Little Women's Greta Gerwig being the most glaring omission (she did earn a best adapted screenplay nomination, and Little Women was nominated for best picture).

"It’s disturbing but not surprising that women directors still don’t get the respect and awards that male directors do," said Melissa Silverstein, founder of the advocacy website Women and Hollywood and director of the Athena Film Festival. "The system and the culture are the problems. To not see the brilliant work of Greta Gerwig and [The Farewell's] Lulu Wang and [It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood's] Marielle Heller and [Hustlers'] Lorene Scafaria and many others not being viewed in the same way as the men in their field is heartbreaking. We all know they hit it out of the park this year and the fact that they are constantly overlooked is why we all keep doing the work to change the system and the culture."

Time’s Up chief operating officer Rebecca Goldman also weighed in on the fact that the best director race is entirely comprised of men.

“This is why Time's Up exists -- to ensure women in entertainment and across industries get the opportunities and recognition they deserve. And we won’t stop fighting until they do,” said Goldman in a statement.

Still, female directors did make strides in other categories this year including best feature documentary, international film and the multiple shorts races. The Academy noted that “a record 62 women were nominated, almost one third of this year’s nominees.”

Overall, last year's Academy Awards offered a more diverse portrait of Hollywood, with three of the top four acting categories won by people of color (Bohemian Rhapsody's Rami Malek, If Beale Street Could Talk's Regina King and Green Book's Mahershala Ali). Like Carter, Hannah Beachler made history last year as the first black production designer to be nominated for — and win — an Oscar for Black Panther.

Among this year's bright spots, the South Korean black comedy Parasite was a standout with six nominations, including best director and original screenplay for Bong Joon Ho and best picture.

Today's nominations followed an awards season that has largely lacked diversity and women in the director's competitions. The five DGA nominees were male. Earlier this month, the Golden Globes doled out most of its awards to mostly white winners, spanning film and TV (Ramy star Ramy Youssef and Awkwafina were among the exceptions). BAFTA’s 20 acting nominees were entirely white, with Erivo being snubbed by that voting body.

“I wonder what it’s going to take for Hollywood to reflect the people that they are asking to pay $15 to see their films,” says Reign.