by Ben Halevy
For years, the Academy Awards have striven toward diversity, and last year’s Oscars left much to be desired in that category after not a single person of color was nominated in any category. But this year, the Academy’s efforts to diversify may become a reality when he 89th Academy Awards bring the red carpet to our living rooms on Feb. 26.
This year, six African-Americans actors and actresses have been nominated for awards, a new record in Oscars’ history. This includes Denzel Washington for Best Actor in Fences and Ruth Negga for Best Actress in Loving. In addition, three films featuring a predominantly black cast --Fences, Moonlight and Hidden Figures— have been nominated for Best Picture and depict the struggles of being a minority in America.
Also, the effects of President Trump’s recent executive order banning citizens of seven Islamic-majority countries have made their way into the Academy Awards. Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, whose movie The Salesman has been nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, will be boycotting the Oscars in protest of this controversial order. British actor Dev Patel, nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Lion, said that traveling after Trump’s policy has become a “nightmare” compared to travelling when he was nominated for Slumdog Millionaire in 2009, according to the Evening Standard.
Although the diversity of actors has expanded among nominations, blockbuster action and science-fiction films seem to have been left out of the nomination process.
Films such as Captain America: Civil War, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Deadpool, which were widely acclaimed by critics, did not receive a single Oscar nomination. The closest movie that would fit into this category would be Arrival (nominated for eight awards), but the film combines a realistic depth along with its science-fiction premise.
Instead of action films, musicals and play adaptations seem to be the big winners. La La Land, a movie musical, tied the all-time record with a whopping 14 nominations, including Best Actor for Ryan Gosling and Best Actress for Emma Stone, and is perceived as a frontrunner for Best Picture. Fences, based on August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, earned four Oscar nominations as well, including both Best Picture, Best Actor for Washington and Best Supporting Actress for Viola Davis.
Amidst controversy, the Academy Awards will proceed. A night of big awards and even bigger celebrities, along with some political issues sprinkled in, will likely be one not soon forgotten.