The nominees for the 2016 Academy Awards were announced last Thursday, and immediately after they were revealed, the Internet exploded with anger and vitriol. For the second straight year, there were no nominees of colour — in the Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress categories.
Directors Spike Lee and Michael Moore, along with actors Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith, have all announced they’re boycotting the Oscars ceremony due to the #OscarsSoWhite controversy.
Now A-list actor George Clooney is getting involved, saying “we’re moving in the wrong direction” when it comes to acting recognition. Speaking to Variety, Clooney outlined why he thinks the Oscars are outdated, and why the voting system and nominating criteria need to change.
“If you think back 10 years ago, the Academy was doing a better job. Think about how many more African Americans were nominated. I would also make the argument, I don’t think it’s a problem of who you’re picking as much as it is: How many options are available to minorities in film, particularly in quality films?” he pondered.
Clooney agrees fully with Lee, Moore and the Smiths.
“I think that African Americans have a real fair point that the industry isn’t representing them well enough,” he said. “I think that’s absolutely true.”
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Clooney believes that in the past, as recent as 2004, the Academy was starting to move in the right direction in terms of nominating a diverse range of people in major categories, but now he feels they’re moving backwards.
“I think around 2004, certainly there were black nominees — like Don Cheadle, Morgan Freeman,” he said to Variety. “And all of a sudden, you feel like we’re moving in the wrong direction. There were nominations left off the table. There were four films this year: Creed could have gotten nominations; Concussion could have gotten Will Smith a nomination; Idris Elba could have been nominated for Beasts of No Nation; and Straight Outta Compton could have been nominated. And certainly last year, with Selma director Ava DuVernay — I think that it’s just ridiculous not to nominate her.”
And, as Clooney is known for, he laid it out flat and bare at the end of the interview:
“Honestly, there should be more opportunity than that… There should be 20 or 30 or 40 films of the quality that people would consider for the Oscars. By the way, we’re talking about African Americans. For Hispanics, it’s even worse. We need to get better at this. We used to be better at it.”
The 88th Annual Academy Awards will be broadcast live on Feb. 28. Comedian Chris Rock will be hosting the ceremony.