Taleah Johnson is a freshman sociology major
Each year, the Oscar nominations are heavily debated and suddenly every Twitter user who follows A24 becomes a film critic. As a fledgling film Twitter stan (trademark included), it only seems fair that I also don my black turtleneck and shout into the void. However, this year, I found the Oscar nominations to be predictable. I wasn’t shocked by “Joker”’s 11 nominations, and I certainly wasn’t surprised by “Parasite” receiving recognition for everything but their South Korean leads. Unfortunately, the Oscars follow a pattern — a sad, racist, sexist, et cetera-ist pattern.
Horror movies have a history of being snubbed. Although last year, “Border” and “A Quiet Place” were nominated for the lesser-appreciated categories, such as makeup and sound editing, horror films rarely make the big-ticket nominations. Even the “artsy” horror movies such as “Midsommar” or “The Lighthouse” that could have easily won support for their amazing cinematography piqued no interest from the academy.
Also, the elephant in the room for black film Twitter — “Us” received nothing. There was no recognition for Lupita Nyong’o performing as two dynamic characters without having to “method act,” which always seems like code for (white, male) actors to terrorize their cast and crew in order to “get in character.” On top of that, there is the amazing editing between the fight scene and the ballet scene, as well as the makeup of the eyebrowless tethered. Honestly, if “Joker” can get nominated for clown makeup, then so can “Us.”
Nyong’o’s snub leads into the discussion of a lack of people of color within this award show, especially within the acting categories. Although the Oscars obviously worked hard to avoid #OscarsSoWhite backlash, there’s still a noticeable absence of minority actors in comparison to the multitude of POC-led movies that came out this year.
As a black person, I know I might be expected to be overjoyed by Cynthia Erivo’s nomination. But, and I realize this might be a controversial opinion, black actors aren’t only in slave movies.
And although I’m not Latinx, I doubt the Latinx community is super pleased with a white Hispanic Antonio Banderas being marketed as a person of color.
And as much as I want this entire article to be about Lupita Nyong’o, we must also focus on the lack of Asian representation. “The Farewell,” which didn’t receive any nominations, was incredible, as was the cast of “Parasite.”
What does it mean if actors of color aren’t recognized? Acting is arguably the most touching, most humane part of a film, and what can be discerned from the academy ignoring the humanity of actors of color?
I could go on for pages. What about “Uncut Gems,” “Hustlers,” “Booksmart,” “Dolemite Is My Name,” “Little Women,” “Honey Boy,” “Knives Out,” and so on? Maybe it’s time to recognize that a historically racist, sexist, homophobic, eterca-ist nomination process isn’t the authority on what makes a movie “good,” and the academy is going to continue to award white, straight, cishet creatives. This isn’t just a tantrum because my favorite movie wasn’t chosen — I can admit that there are movies that were nominated this year that I enjoyed. But it would be disastrous if we didn’t continue talking about the obvious prejudice within the 2020 Oscar nominations, especially for marginalized people and women.