“Hollywood’s awards season is taking shape, but if early indications are anything to go on, the Academy Awards won’t be fielding a much more diverse batch of nominees a year after the academy was ridiculed for an Oscars featuring only white actors.
It’s still early and the season is very much in flux, with some of the top contenders including the journalism drama “Spotlight,” the sci-fi adventure “The Martian” and the lesbian romance “Carol.” On Wednesday, the Screen Actors Guild Awards —— an important Oscars predictor —— will present their nominees, with the Golden Globe nominations from the Hollywood Foreign Press on Thursday.
But the whiteness of the season has already drawn attention.
Surveying the 11 white nominees for best actor and best actress at the Gotham Independent Awards last week, co-host and “Broad City” star Ilana Glazer commented: “You guys could open up a Williams Sonoma.”
Oscar prognosticators are by no means a sure bet, but they offer a realistic gauge of what films and what performers are likely in the Oscar mix. Though several awards contenders have not yet opened in theaters, every film but “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” has been screened for press; for those following closely, much of the field is already established, long before Oscar nominations are announced Jan. 14.
The latest predictions gathered from Oscar watchers in a regular poll by the movie blog Movie City News —— the “Gurus o’ Gold” — forecast only one non-white nominee in all four acting categories: Idris Elba in “Beasts of Nation.” Outside chances include Will Smith (“Concussion”), Benicio del Toro (“Sicario”) and Samuel L. Jackson (“The Hateful Eight”).
When the Hollywood Reporter convened likely actress nominees like Cate Blanchett (“Carol”), Jennifer Lawrence (“Joy”) and Brie Larson (“Room”) for its magazine cover round table — a regular glossy feature of awards season — it acknowledged a lack of diversity in its choices. Round table host Stephen Galloway faced the issue in a column, writing: “The awful truth is that there are no minority actresses in genuine contention for an Oscar this year.”
The only best picture candidate with a non-white protagonist comes in 10th from the Gurus, on the cusp of making it into the category: “Creed,” the acclaimed Rocky sequel starring Michael B. Jordan.
Best director, too, seems likely to include only males, with most expecting nods for some combination of Tom McCarthy (“Spotlight”), Ridley Scott (“The Martian”), Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (“The Revenant”), Todd Haynes (“Carol”), Steven Spielberg (“Bridge of Spies”) and George Miller (“Mad Max: Fury Road”).
In a way, an Oscars that looks a lot like the previous Academy Awards wouldn’t be surprising. Hollywood’s deep equality issues, in front and behind the camera, don’t get magically solved when Oscar ballots get mailed. The academy can only nominate the films that get made, and criticism might be best directed toward executives with the power to greenlight…”