The very white 2020 Oscar nominations deserve all the hate they're getting
The minute I saw Issa Rae and John Cho’s lovely faces as they announced the 2020 Oscar nominees, I lost the dregs of any potential optimism about the chances that a healthy number of people of color would be recognized. Institutions have a way of trying to offset criticisms of their lack of diversity by front loading non-white people in relatively inconsequential roles. Just look at the Golden Globes. An array of super talented people of color like Wesley Snipes, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, Rami Malek, Tiffany Haddish took the stage (Octavia Spencer was scheduled to appear, too, but had the flu)—as presenters. Meanwhile, only two non-white actors took home trophies at a show that honors the year in both film and television.
And the Oscar nominations were somehow even worse. Parasite's Bong Joon Ho was nominated for Best Original Screenplay and Best Director, thankfully keeping those categories from being all-white affairs. But only a single person of color was nominated for an acting award: Cynthia Erivo for her role as Harriet Tubman in Harriet. Few were clamoring to see Harriet honored, though—it was the subject of hearty criticism from the black community and didn’t crack 75 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. But history’s proven that the Academy really loves its slave movies.
Meanwhile, the list of snubbed people of color is long. Awkwafina earned a Golden Globe for her performance in The Farewell, but wasn’t nominated for Best Actress. Jennifer Lopez, once so buzzed-about for her role in Hustlers, was snubbed yet again, as was Lupita Nyong'o, who delivered a super strong performance in Us. Dolemite is My Name and its all-black cast were shut out entirely, and Jamie Foxx wasn’t recognized for his well-received supporting role in Just Mercy. And despite the fact that Parasite earned all of those nominations, not one was in an acting category. Beyoncé didn’t even get a Best Original Song nod for The Lion King.
“In the past, the pushback against #OscarsSoWhite was, 'There just wasn’t enough performances to nominate.' Well, that’s not the case this year,” April Reign, the creator of the viral hashtag, told The Hollywood Reporter. “There was a wealth of talent – and not just of black performers but of various marginalized communities – that were overlooked. And it’s really unfortunate. I’m really interested in what Hollywood and what the Academy is going to do to make the entertainment industry reflect those that support it.”
On the gender front, things were also pretty depressing, as we were treated to another all-male Best Director slate. Here’s what people had to say on social media about the lack of diversity among the nominees.
a hate crime for making john cho and issa say joker this many times— E. Alex Jung (@e_alexjung) January 13, 2020
The Academy narrowly avoiding an Oscars So White by nominating exactly one performer of color in an acting category, but nominating her for playing Harriet Tubman, feels like an on-the-nose joke in an episode of The Critic.— Emily VanDerWerff (@tvoti) January 13, 2020
The Joker got 11 nominations because the clowns in the Academy love to see themselves represented in film— Josh Billinson (@jbillinson) January 13, 2020
Hustlers: An entertaining, genuinely moving, and deceptively thoughtful exploration of sex work, sisterhood, and class featuring a world-class triple threat performance that was shot in 29 days.
The Academy: sad clown man dance#Oscarnoms— Sage Young (@sageyoungest) January 13, 2020
Ocean’s Nine where JLo joins the squad (Awkwafina is already there) and the ladies steal Oscars from straight white men who don’t deserve them.
Directed by Greta Gerwig.— Sam Stryker (@sbstryker) January 13, 2020
no nods for The Farewell or Uncut Gems—academy what did a24 do to you?— Kevin Nguyen (@knguyen) January 13, 2020
I like Charlize Theron a lot, but was she better in Bombshell than Lupita Nyong'o was in Us? It is to laugh.— Linda Holmes (@lindaholmes) January 13, 2020
No Greta Gerwig for ‘Little Women,’ no Lulu Wang for ‘The Farewell,’ no Lorene Scafaria for ‘Hustlers,’ no Melina Matsoukas for ‘Queen & Slim’ no Marielle Heller for ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.’ Once again, the Oscars nominated five men for best director. #OscarNoms— Ramin Setoodeh (@RaminSetoodeh) January 13, 2020
The Academy dead ass looked at Lupita Nyong'o and said, "We prefer you as a slave."— Robert Daniels (@812filmreviews) January 13, 2020