The Review/Short Read/
We Did It! We Fixed The Oscars!
683 new additions to the academy, 41 per cent people of colour, 46 per cent female
After this year’s #OscarsSoWhite debacle, in which not a single actor of colour was nominated and the event was marked by a boycott from various Academy members including Ava DuVernay, Spike Lee, Will Smith and Michael Moore, it looks like the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences finally got its act together. (Last year’s Academy host Chris Rock deemed it “the white BET awards.”) An official press release today boasts that 683 filmmakers and craftspeople have joined the ranks of the elite class of Oscar voters. It also indicates that many of them are, shockingly: non-white! (41 per cent are people of colour.) Female! (46 per cent with 52 female directors added.) And some are — most shockingly of all?! — Canadian.
It’s hard to believe that Catherine Breillat, Ana Lily Amirpour, Idris Alba and Cary Fukunaga weren’t able to vote in the Oscars before. And that home-grown Canadian talents like Deepa Mehta, Rachel McAdams, Patricia Rozema, Xavier Dolan, Bruce Greenwood, Deirdre Bowen, Adam Beach and Mary Harron (and more) were previously shut out, as well as iconic filmmakers like Abbas Kiarostami, Ken Loach, Park Chan-wook, the Wachowskis, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Lynne Ramsay and Melvin Van Peebles. But progress in Hollywood is slow and change takes time, no matter how many hashtags are used. No one expects the Oscars to be fair. (This tweet by Adam Nayman speaks for itself.) But maybe now, they at least stand a chance to do better, with an Academy that embodies the future of the Hollywood movie industry. An industry, in which representation and diversity has become arguably the defining issue.
Plus, think of the luncheons! Keenan Ivory Wayans is an Academy member now! So is Patti LuPone! And Tina Fey and Mary J. Blige and Hirokazu Kore-eda and Miranda July and Adam MacKay and John Boyega and Greta Gerwig and Brie Larson and Oscar Isaac! Ice Cube's an Academy member now! So is Martin Starr! Seriously, it’s like my dream dinner/inevitable slumber party come to life.
For an official list of all the new Academy members, see the following link.
Let’s all give ourselves a big pat on the back and see what nominees shake out of the big old Oscar tree in March 2017. Already tapped for Oscar nominations is the much-lauded Sundance smash Birth of a Nation, written, produced, directed by and starring Black actor (and new Academy member) Nate Parker. The amount of visibility — and hope — these 683 new additions gives to female and minority filmmakers can’t be underestimated. The promise that women and people of colour may receive Hollywood’s highest honour (or that, at least, more films featuring minority filmmakers and talent might be contenders) could transform the future of filmmaking entirely.
"IS HOLLYWOOD RACIST? YOU'RE DAMN RIGHT HOLLYWOOD’S RACIST, BUT IT AIN'T THE RACIST THAT YOU’VE GROWN ACCUSTOMED TO. HOLLYWOOD IS SORORITY RACIST. IT’S LIKE: 'WE LIKE YOU RHONDA, BUT YOU’RE NOT A KAPPA.'" — CHRIS ROCK
I may never get over the fact that Creed was completely shut out of Oscars 2016, in favour of a copious amount of white people’s biopics, in which rich ladies made out with each other at department stores and a guy with a beard tried to fight a bear. But I am happy to see Michael B. Jordan is now in his rightful place — as the Michael Jordan of the Oscars.