Commentary on the Oscars

Most of you movie fans are aware that the Oscars have been taking a hard hit on the issue of diversity. While there is truth to those allegations, there are other matters that are being ignored.

First of all, when did anyone assume that the best movies and performances would always be nominated by the 6000 voters? To begin with, this voting “Academy” resembles a country club where those with inside connections gain a profound advantage.

Leaving the issue of race alone for the time being, try to tell me how Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road and Lily Tomlin in Grandma were ignored while Cate Blanchett and Jennifer Lawrence received nominations? How is it that one of the worst films of the year, Anomalisa, received an Oscar nomination in the animated film category while The Good Dinosaur did not? Finally, how was it that The Best of Enemies, by far the best documentary of the year, went completely unrecognized?

Furthermore, while the Oscars are slammed for their alleged lack of diversity, the critics ignore their recognition of gay and transgender oriented films. Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander were both nominated for The Danish Girl.  Put another way, if diversity is a problem with the Oscar selection process, how was it that Blanchett and Mara received nominations for performances that should have otherwise been left off the final board?

And yet when it comes to race, the Academy has created a problem that it can’t run from. We already know that the sensational film Selma was all but ignored last year, and Straight Out of Compton suffered the same fate in 2015. That was one of the great films released last year, and it is astounding that it was largely unrecognized by the Academy.

Additionally, someone needs to explain to me how Samuel L. Jackson was ignored for his tremendous performances in both Chi-Raq and The Hateful Eight. While I won’t argue with Jennifer Jason Leigh’s nomination for The Hateful Eight, it is hard to justify how a white woman garnered that attention and her African American co-star was ignored.

That same problem exists with Creed. Though it surprised many, including me, this turned out to be a very good movie. Yet how is that Sylvester Stallone, an aging white man playing a supporting role, was nominated while Michael B. Jordan and Tessa Thompson were both overlooked for their powerful performances that held this film together. On top of that, if the film was good enough to garner a nomination, why did Stallone get it and not the black director, Ryan Coogler?

While I don’t pretend to have an answer for the problems facing the Oscar voters, it reminds me of the process existing here in Marion County, Indiana, concerning the selection of our judges. No one, not even the judges themselves, are proud of that process, and all are tagged with the accusation that insider connections trumps skill, compassion and fairness. The good news is that the election process here in Marion County is about to change, and the Oscar people should consider re-evaluating their process. What do you think?