2018 Oscars - still lack diversity


This year’s Oscars ceremony was full of moments calling for more inclusion and representation of non-white, non-male nominees and winners, but provided little in the representation of non-white winners. Especially after 2016’s #OscarsSoWhite campaign and last year’s Best Picture winner, Moonlight, there has been much hope building up about a more diverse group of Oscar winners.

Last Sunday’s show continued the recent momentum built by the #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns on display at other awards shows this year, including the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards, in calling for more support, protection, and recognition for women in Hollywood. Frances McDormand, who won Best Actress for her role in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, called for all female nominees to stand with her as she accepted her award. She stated, “Look around. We all have stories to tell and projects we need financed.” She ended her speech by mentioning a two word phrase largely unfamiliar to viewers outside of the television and film industry: inclusion rider.

Actors can insist that an ‘inclusion rider’ or ‘equity clause’ is included in their contracts. This requires the cast and crew of a production to reflect the demography of the community in which the story is set. Given the severe underrepresentation of ethnic minorities in film and television, contractual clauses like these could make a huge difference in working towards a more diverse industry.

Otherwise, there was much talk about diversity at this year’s Oscars, but little diversity in the ceremony’s winners. Get Out’s Jordan Peele became the first African American to win the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, and Guillermo Del Toro took home the Best Picture Oscar for The Shape of Water, making him the fourth Mexican director to win an Oscar in the last five years. Kobe Bryant also won Best Animated Short for Dear Basketball.

Despite nominations for Mary J Blige (Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Song for Mudbound), Daniel Kaluuya (Best Leading Actor for Get Out), Denzel Washington (Best Leading Actor for Roman J. Israel, Esquire), and Octavia Spencer (Best Supporting Actress for Shape of Water), all acting awards were won by white performers.

Though the ceremony saw relatively few awards for people of colour, there is hope that future ceremonies will continue to call for inclusion and recognition of minorities and women in Hollywood, especially considering historic cinematic phenomena like Marvel’s most recent film: Black Panther. This weekend, Black Panther reached a global total of $1 billion since its release. It becomes only the 33rd film in history to pass the $1b threshold, and this weekend’s earnings make it the 7th highest domestic grossing film in America. With Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time (directed by Ava Duvernay) opening this weekend, films with Black directors occupied the top two spots at the box office for the first time.

A Wrinkle in Time is the first film directed by a Black woman with a budget over $100 million, and its success, coupled with that of Black Panther, will surely enforce age-old demands for more representation within films. Between the increasing critiques of Hollywood’s exclusion of diverse communities, and films like Black Panther making history this year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences faces the perfect opportunity to actively recognize and honour the work of Black artists across the film industry.

Dominque Brodie