This morning, the nominations for the 88th annual Academy Awards were announced and, once again, the Academy has managed to omit people of color. Despite that fact that 2015 was the year that brought us Creed, Beasts of No Nation, Tangerine and many other films featuring great work by people of color, not a single one of them will be recognized on Sunday (with the possible exception of Alejadro Gonzalez Innaritu, the director of Revenant). At this point, the whitewashing of the Oscars fails to be shocking but remains completely unacceptable. Last year was dubbed “the whitest Oscars since 1998” and #OscarsSoWhite took over Twitter. Unfortunately, this year is the whitest Oscars since…last year.
It is important to remember the mysterious and illusive “Academy” (I always picture a group of ancient wizards in robes bowing before a movie screen when I hear people thanking “the Academy”) is a group of filmmakers and actors that are 77% male and 94% white and the average age is over 63 (as of 2012). Out of the 2,900 people to have ever won an Oscar, 32 have been black— including 14 actors, 7 actresses, and only one Best Picture winner. There has been one Latino winner for Best Actor and no Latina winners for Best Actress. And the 2016 Oscars will not be the year to change that with no Latino, African-American or Asian actors represented.
We thought we could help the Academy out by pointing out some brilliant performances they must have missed.
The BUST Nominees for Best Actors who were neglected to be recognized are:
Michael B Jordan (Creed)
In Creed, the 28-year-old actor plays Adonis Johnson, the son of boxing champion and Rocky Balboa’s nemesis, Apollo Creed. Johnson seeks out Rocky to teach him how to box and the two form an unlikely bond. Despite this terrific film being written and directed by Ryan Coogler and starring Michael B. Jordan — both black men — the only Oscar nomination received was for white supporting actor Sylvester Stallone.
Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation)
This British actor played the Commandant in Beasts of No Nation, an intense drama about the story of a child soldier fighting in an African civil war. This film received no nominations, in any category, despite the fact that Elba’s performance earned him nominations from the Golden Globes, NAACP Image Awards and Screen Actors Guild Awards.
Will Smith (Concussion)
Will Smith stars as Dr. Bennet Omalu, who seeks to discover the truth about players’ head injuries in the NFL. Smith has been nominated for two Oscars, but has never won despite his countless breathtaking performances — this one included.
Samuel L. Jackson (The Hateful Eight)
Samuel L. Jackson stars as Major Marquis Warren, a feared bounty hunter and civil war veteran in The Hateful Eight. Jackson has only been nominated for one Oscar, over a decade ago for his work in another Tarantino film, Pulp Fiction.
Jason Mitchell (Straight Outta Compton)
Mitchell plays Eazy-E in Straight Outta Compton, which tells the story of the making of NWA and how the L.A. group revolutionized hip-hop. The only people nominated for their work in this film were the all white screenwriters.
Benicio Del Toro (Sicario)
Benicio Del Toro’s amazing performance as Alejandro Gillick, a CIA agent hoping to stop a Mexican drug cartel and bring down its leader in Sicario, definitely deserves a nomination.
The BUST Nominees for Best Actresses who were neglected to be recognized are:
Tessa Thompson (Creed)
In Creed, Tessa Thompson plays Bianca. But the Dear White People actress’ character is much more than Michael B. Johnson’s ringside babe. She’s a fully three-dimensional, well-rounded character who supportsher love interest, as much as he supports her.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Concussion)
Gugu Mbatha-Raw plays Prema Mutiso, a Kenyan nurse who marries Dr. Bennet Omalu (Will Smith). She sticks with Omalu as he uncovers the true consequences football players suffer from head injuries acquired during play.
Kitana Kiki Rodriguez (Tangerine)
Kitana Kiki Rodriguez plays Sin-Dee Rella, a transgender sex worker who discovers that her boyfriend and pimp has been cheating on her. This leads her through a revenge-seeking adventure through Hollywood. This groundbreaking movie that got no attention from the Academy.
And there you have it, nine actors who had brilliant performances in 2015 and yet are completely overlooked but the all-knowing Academy. As unfortunate as the lack of diversity in nominations are, it is even more disheartening that there were so few roles for women of color this year. As Viola Davis said in her Emmy acceptance speech, “You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.” That goes for Oscars as well. The first step for gaining the recognition women of color in Hollywood deserve is writing and casting diverse roles for diverse actors.
Here is hoping that in 2016, people of color will continue to create amazing films and finally, finally glean the recognition they deserve.
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