For many, February is traditionally “catch-up-on-Oscar-nominated-movies” month. Whatever films you missed will have an extended theatrical release after scoring their coveted Academy Award nomination. But the top flicks in this year’s nomination list have exhibited peak levels of problematic storylines, something you should consider when brushing up on the nominees before the big day on Feb. 22.
The problem begins here with The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; a group that is unapologetically 93% white and 76% male, with an average age of 63.
That’s Congress-levels of whitewashing.
Dubbed “Oscar bait”, dozens of critically acclaimed films are strategically released each year around Christmastime. Of these Oscar Nod Wannabees, there is a certain type of movie that will almost certainly get nominated – and this year the reoccurring theme appears to be The Struggle of the Intelligent But Troubled White Boy.
Richard Licklater’s “Boyhood” is a favorite to win Best Picture despite being quite a stereotypical middle-class heterosexual white boy coming-of-age story. “Birdman” features a washed-up white male actor facing a creative mid-life crisis. “American Sniper” is the story of a white sniper and the people he killed. “The Imitation Game” describes the persecuted Alan Turning, “The Theory of Everything” a troubled, disabled white genius.
The only best picture nominees that break from the monochrome parade of Caucasian protagonists are “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “Selma,” both of which were snubbed in acting categories. This year’s nominees feature a grand total of zero actors of color.
The stigma goes past race, too. No women were nominated in the screenwriting or directing categories for the first time in 15 years. No Best Picture nominees featured stories about women. Finally, the White Boy Genius storylines appear to be wearing thin on the general public. And while the Academy being staunchly comprised of conservative men is nothing new, people are starting to express their displeasure.
When you head to the cinema to pick and choose which movies to watch this year, think about the types of films you are supporting. The Academy needs to make some internal changes, but it’s not completely up to them what films become successful. Movies imitate life, and audience members of all races, genders and orientations want to see themselves represented. By all means, go see the critically acclaimed nominee you’ve been waiting for, but don’t forget to support the films that have been overlooked in favor of the safe and the easy proven-to-work formula.