With the 2021 Oscars in full swing, a lot of Oscar buzz has been growing days ahead of the actual ceremony. A noteworthy detail in this year’s nominees is the amount of diversity and inclusivity that the Academy seems to have gravitated toward. This comes as no surprise since the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has drastically reformed its membership in recent years.
What used to be a white male-dominated Academy has now admitted large batches of new Oscar voters who reflect society’s diversity and inclusivity. This year’s Oscars is setting a new milestone for the awards show, sending a powerful message that is shaking up Hollywood as we speak.
This year marks the first-ever year in Oscar history where two female directors are nominated for the Best Director category, namely Chloe Zhao for Nomadland and Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman. This is a stark contrast from the previous years where inclusivity and diversity were stunted, giving birth to the #OscarsSoWhite movement incited by April Reign in 2015.
It might be difficult to draw a line from the changes we see today, but this year’s set of nominations are massively different from those of previous years.
Last year, Cynthia Erivo was the sole non-white actor among 20 nominations. This time, however, the late Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah) and South Korean star Youn Yuh-Jung (Minari) are among the frontrunners for bagging an Oscar. As for the Best Actress category, Viola Davis is among the women who are nominated for the exceedingly stacked category.
Suffice to say, the global pandemic has also caused a massive shakedown in the film industry. With theaters closing down and box office numbers seemingly out of the picture films, a more “pared down selection” of films have become great contenders.
Consequently, these films tend to be created by filmmakers of color and women. This is due to the fact that these films do not need any star power to carry themselves, hence the diversity and inclusion.
Not to mention, the meteoric rise of streaming platforms during the global pandemic has also played a significant part in pushing for diversity in film and television, with most people practically staying in their homes due to the lockdowns enjoying streaming services far more than the traditional theater experience.
However, despite this silver lining in the way the Oscars are being handled, the fact remains that blockbusters will most likely remain less diverse as a whole. “If male directors make more money, then they’ll keep getting hired for the superhero movies. And if white actors are drawing more money, they’ll keep getting hired for the superhero,” says Sasha Stone, founder of the Awards Daily website.
While we’re on the right track as a society to be more accepting and more understanding of different cultures through inclusion and diversity, we still have a long way to go before it becomes the norm. However, a step in the right direction is always a good thing, and the 2021 Oscars seem to be following along well.