Awards season is officially upon us, meaning Hollywood’s lack of diversity has, yet again, become strikingly apparent. Oscar nominations were announced today and, in a shock to no one, all four acting categories had zero nominees of color. In sharp contrast to television, Hollywood has remained stubbornly slow in providing leading roles to people of color. As Viola Davis so eloquently put it in her Emmy’s acceptance speech, actors of color cannot win awards for “roles that simply are not there.”
Unlike most film buffs, I have never been a huge fan of the Oscars and Golden Globes. Besides the Academy’s strong preference for dramas and biopics that the general public has never heard of, the consistent lack of diversity and politically-motivated choices of winners has turned me off. This year was no different, with Idris Elba missing out on a nod for Best Supporting Actor in Beasts of No Nation, and the exclusion of Creed and Straight Outta Compton, both box-office hits and critical successes, in the Best Picture race.
I did, however, decide to watch the Golden Globes this time around since-for the first time in 5 years-I was actually stateside and didn’t have to worry about finishing a college reading after the 3-hour ceremony.
Ricky Gervais provided a few laughs (even Matt Damon couldn’t help but chuckle at has joke about Ben Affleck’s infidelity) and highlighted what we all know: the Golden Globes is pretty boring and the Hollywood Foreign Press makes questionable decisions. Continuing its trend of placing anything not tear-inducing in the category of “Musical or Comedy,” Matt Damon and Jennifer Lawrence picked up awards for their respective work in The Martian and Joy.
Only a handful of people of color received awards, namely Gael García Bernal for his work in Amazon’s Mozart in the Jungle (which I’m pretty sure hardly anyone had heard of before the Globes), Oscar Isaac for what many critics are calling the year’s best performance in the miniseries Show Me a Hero, and Alejandro González Iñárritu for Best Director for the second year in a row.
In one of the more head-scratching moments of the show, Taraji P. Henson accepted the Best Actress award for the her now infamous role as Cookie in Empire. I sensed some bitterness as she pointed out that, despite a long career full of great roles-namely Queenie in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button-she won her first Golden Globe for playing “an ex-con.” Though I didn’t necessarily agree with her delivery (and was cracking up at Viola Davis’ slight side-eye), I definitely felt where she was coming from.
Leonardo DiCaprio ended the pretty predictable night with a win for Best Actor in The Revenant (a film I have no desire to see). Though I applaud him for acknowledging the indigenous people who were featured in the film, I find it interesting that none are seen in the film’s commercials.
Hollywood clearly isn’t concerned with marketing to people of color, a philosophy that also holds true for the Oscars. I wish I could say I was surprised by the continuation of the #OscarsSoWhite trend, but I’m not.