Words by Audrey Camille
Illustration by Katie Herchenroeder
The 91st Annual Oscars holds the potential to make history or fall short on its promise of diversity. The Academy is often under a lot of heat as moviegoers and actors alike call them out for their lack of diversity.
This season Spike Lee picked up his first ever nomination for Blackkklansman, a fact that shocked many. Lee, a Brooklyn native, could become the first African American to win Best Director. The connection the film makes between the 1970s KKK and the current political climate makes Blackkklansman a strong Oscar contender.
Further, for the first time ever, a comic book movie has been nominated for Best Picture. Though Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight was said to be snubbed by many, Black Panther snags the first ever nomination for comic book movies. Of course, it is not the first blockbuster to be nominated the night’s highest honor – Lord of the Rings: Return of the King won back in 2004 – but considering the massive culture impact Black Panther had worldwide, this is an incredibly special moment. For the first time ever, a comic book movie has been nominated for Best Picture.
One film racking up controversy through this awards season is Green Book, starring Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali. Telling the story of a black man who goes on tour in the deep South in 1962, this film was a sure-thing for Awards Season. It only started getting controversy after an interview with Mortensen defending director Peter Farrelly – a white man – telling a story of racism. This criticism as well as Mortensen snagging a Best Leading Actor nomination poses the issue of this being a “white savior” project to many. Regardless of this controversy, however, the picture racked up four nominations.
Of the twenty actors nominated across the four categories, only five are people of color, and of the five, only two are black. Both of these actors are in supporting roles – Mahershala Ali for Green Book and Regina King for If Beale Street Could Talk.
You can watch the 91st Annual Academy Awards on Sunday, February 24th at 8pm.