Once upon a time in Hollywood, there was a slate of Oscar nominations populated by directors and performers of reasonably diverse ethnic backgrounds and genders. Alas, that was in 2018. And again in 2019. But the fairy tale did not come true again on Monday, when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the nominees for the 2020 Academy Awards, which amounted to #Oscarsprettymuchwhiteandmale.
Female directors were shut out of the directing category despite the fact that women directed several critically acclaimed 2019 movies — including one that was nominated for best picture. There was only one person of color — actress Cynthia Erivo, who plays Harriet Tubman in “Harriet” — among the 20 nominees in acting categories. (Antonio Banderas, who was nominated for “Pain and Glory” is Spanish and white.)
The best that can be said for this year’s slate is that the roster of best director nominees was not completely white. The South Korean director Bong Joon Ho was nominated in that category for “Parasite.” And the category of best documentary feature was dominated by films directed by women.
In the five years since the start of the #OscarsSoWhite campaign — following a 2015 Oscar nomination slate that included not a single person of color in any of the four acting categories and only one in the directing categories — the academy has significantly diversified its overwhelmingly white male membership.
Ultimately, increases in the number of women and people of color directing films are more important than increases in diversity in the Oscar slate — which is always going to be something of an indecipherable crapshoot. This year, Jennifer Lopez was snubbed, but so was Adam Sandler. “Little Women” was nominated for an Oscar, but Gerwig herself wasn’t nominated. Inexplicable disconnects like that happen nearly every year with directors and best picture nominations.
Ultimately, if the Oscars are going to be more diverse, what’s needed is for the industry to be more diverse.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE LOS ANGELES TIMES