By now, the list of the 89th annual Academy Award nominations has made the rounds. Let's analyze Tuesday morning's announcement. John Horn and Kyle Buchanan, senior editor for Vulture and John's co-host on The Awards Show Show podcast, take a closer look at this year's nominees.
Objectively, the names on this year's Oscar hopefuls list are certainly more diverse than prior years, but to echo April Reign (she created the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite), who spoke to John and Kyle a few weeks ago: "There's still a lot of work to be done."
John: "If we look at the big picture nominees, there is certainly some good news [with] movies that are led by African American casts. We have "Fences," we have "Hidden Figures," we have "Moonlight" ... all deserving, all great nominees. But once you get beyond picture and then the acting categories, it really becomes representative of what the [Motion Picture Academy] has struggled with for many years."
Kyle: "That's exactly what we need to be broadening our perspective on. It's very encouraging that a lot of black talent was nominated this year, but aside from Dev Patel who was nominated, there's so many other types of people of color that are not getting their due and are not having stories made about them, frankly. And I think we see a lot of behind-the-scenes evidence that so many categories will continue to be dominated by men. Even when you look at something as innocuous seeming as the best actress category, I think it's very telling that only one of those nominees, Emma Stone from "La La Land," is in a movie that was nominated for best picture. Whereas four of the five best actor nominees, were in best picture movies.
"I think that speaks a lot about the Academy's unwillingness to take female-fronted stories as seriously as they ought to. So, I think there's a lot of interesting and sometimes vexing currents just underneath the surface here."
Why is diversity important?
John: "The people who are getting jobs in Hollywood, or anywhere else, should represent the way that the nation is made up. And the equally important thing is that if you're a young person and you want to be in the film business and if you're thinking about directing, if you're thinking about cinematography, if you're thinking about editing ... if you're watching the Oscars and you don't see anybody who is a person of color or a woman who is openly gay or lesbian ... then I think you don't see yourself in that job. And that's why it's incredibly important beyond the acting categories."
Kyle: "To a certain extent the Academy can only work with what they're given by the studios, and so a lot of this is dependent on what studios and people with the money choose to make. And I hope that they will look at the success of movies like "Moonlight" and "Fences" and "Hidden Figures" and make more movies like that because all of these films paid off financially. "Hidden Figures" is a gigantic hit and Oscar responded to them, too."
Hope for the future
John: "One thing I will end with — that I think gives us both some encouragement — is that when we look at the movies that we're seeing at the Sundance Film Festival this week, we are seeing an incredible array of people in front of and behind the camera. Trans women filmmakers, actors of all denominations: race, gender, ethnicity. I guess the question is, How long will it take that to trickle up to the Academy?"