By Ron Wynn
Monday morning brought the latest nominations for this year’s Oscar Awards, and with it came the familiar lament that has accompanied pretty much every recent awards nominations announcement with a couple of exceptions: the list of nominees are very lacking when it comes to diversity and inclusion.
The first and arguably most surprising omission came in the Best Actress category. Lupito Nyong’o got a Critics Choice nomination for Best Actress for her performance in “Us,” and it was widely assumed that she would be followed by an Oscar nod. That didn’t prove the case. Nor did Eddie Murphy’s highly praised performance in “Dolemite Is My Name,” completing a double snub as he was also ignored by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for the Golden Globes.
Cynthia Errivo did grab one for “Harriet,” preventing all the acting categories from totally shutting out either Blacks or all people of color. But she was pretty much it, unless one wants to greatly extend the definition of diversity to include Antonio Banderas. The surprises range from the absence of anyone from the outstanding social justice film “Just Mercy” to “The Farewell,” “Parasite” “Hustlers,” and “Awkwafina.” At least the Oscar voters maintain a consistency in their exclusionary practices. They ignore films featuring Asian and dark-skinned Latinos along with Black creative people.
The explanations being offered for the lack of nominations given to Nyong’o and Murphy are that the Academy historically shortchanges both horror and comedic productions. It’s true that Adam Sandler also got overlooked for what’s widely considered his finest performance in “Uncut Gems.” The Academy’s also not doing so great when it comes to acknowledging the contributions of women. Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women” isn’t doing so well at the box office, but it did get six Oscar nominations, among them a Best Actress for Saoirse Ronan and a Best Supporting Actress for Florence Pugh. The film also earned a Best Picture nomination, but somehow Gerwig, despite getting a screenplay nod, wasn’t included among the Best Director nominees, something that’s baffling.
At lest Pedro Almodovar’s “Pain & Glory” was acknowledged via Banderas’ Best Actor nomination. But overall, Hollywood’s still having major problems in expanding nomination recognition for actors and others who aren’t white and male. Joaquin Phoenix and “Joker” were the big winners, getting 11 nominations. The Oscars will air Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. on WKRN-2.