The Oscars Are So White Yet Again In 2016 — ‘Creed,’ ‘Dope’ And Others Snubbed For Academy Awards

The 2016 nominees for the Oscars have just been released on Thursday, January 14, and the #OscarsSoWhite hashtags – created by April Reign (@ReignOfApril) – have returned, as people on social media criticize and question the list of nominees. This year, there are absolutely no actors or actresses of color that were nominated for their performances in 2015.

Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, Mad Max: Fury Road, Room, Spotlight, The Big Short, The Martian, and The Revenant have all been nominated for Oscars for Best Picture this year. These are all films that are led by white male actors, with Brooklyn, Mad Max: Fury Road and Room having strong female leads — who are also all white. This takes nothing away from their performances, it’s simply a fact. Looking at the Best Picture Academy Award nominees, many were upset, frustrated and angry to not see films like Creed, Dope, Straight Outta Compton, Beasts of No Nation and Tangerine being nominated. Every single one of the aforementioned films received high critical praise — with one of them in particular being one of the biggest financial successes of 2015 — and had a cast full of black actors.

Seeing Mad Max: Fury Road being nominated for Best Picture, while also not seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens on that list, is a bit baffling. Both were great, popcorn blockbusters — both featuring strong female leads. However, The Force Awakens has Fury Road beat on the diversity front, with John Boyega and Oscar Isaac also being in the film. No matter how much one may love Mad Max: Fury Road, the fact that it is still, at its core, is a popcorn flick — super fun, adventurous and entertaining. To call it Best Picture material, while ignoring The Force Awakens, is odd. George Miller’s legacy seems to be a factor in why the movie is such an Academy darling. And if it is simply the character of Furiosa and the film’s strong feminist viewpoint that carries it to Best Picture status, then Sean Baker’s Tangerine deserves recognition, as well. That Sundance Film Festival hit was inventively shot all on an iPhone and stars two black, transgender women — Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor — and that is ridiculously feminist.

The Oscars Are So White Yet Again In 2016 - 'Creed,' 'Dope' And Others Snubbed For Academy Awards
Melissa Leo, Sean Baker, Mya Taylor, and Ira Sachs attend the "Tangerine" New York screening. [Photo by Matthew Eisman/Getty Images]

This is an issue that women of color have always head to struggle with. The assertion that recognizing women of color is more important makes some who call themselves feminists upset or even offended. “Why does their race matter,” they may say, “they’re women!” What they fail to realize is that white women and women of color do not share the same experiences of being a woman, which is also true of LGBT women of color. When the topic of feminism is brought up, women of color and women within the LGBT community are almost always left out of the conversation.

People jumping directly to Straight Outta Compton for not being nominated for the Best Director, Best Actor, or Best Picture Oscars, though somewhat understandable, is still a tiny bit predictable and problematic. It is the one black movie of 2015 which features black men being misogynistic and stereotypical, no matter how true any of that actually was. Dope and Creed, however, avoided those pitfalls, presenting more layered, original, and nuanced black characters. Creed was a film about a young black man, the son of Apollo Creed, written and directed by a black man (Ryan Coogler), and the only nomination the film received was Sylvester Stallone’s performance as Rocky. Ryan Coogler, Michael B. Jordan, and Tessa Thompson did not receive nominations, and for those who do not understand why people were upset with Sly for not thanking them during his Golden Globes speech — this is why that was so important.

Beasts of No Nation, one of the best reviewed films of 2015, is another Oscars snub that is deeply confusing. Starring Idris Elba, Abraham Attah, and written/directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, whose father is Japanese, and not one of these artists received any recognition for their amazing work. And while nominating Straight Outta Compton for Best Original Screenplay is nice, it would certainly mean more if the writers weren’t white.

Last September, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, tried to convince studio executives that they need to be more inclusive when it comes to diversity.

“The Academy has no power over Hollywood. We have nothing to do with hiring,” Isaacs said. “What we can do, however, is to get them to widen their normal stream of thought.”

Well, it appears as if the Academy has more work to do in terms of widening the normal stream of thought. The Los Angeles Times ran a survey of the 6,028 Academy Award voters, and discovered that 94 percent of them are white, 76 percent of them are men, and they are an average of 63-years-old. And while plenty of big publications and websites are asking these same kinds of questions, most of them have an all white staff of writers.

One bright spot in this Oscars debacle is Alejandro González Iñárritu being nominated for The Revenant, after winning the Golden Globe. He certainly deserves the recognition, but Ryan Coogler, F. Gary Gray, Idris Elba, Cary Joji Fukunaga, Abraham Attah, Benicio Del Toro and many, many others do, as well.

The full nominee list for the 2016 Oscars can be read below.

Best Picture:
Bridge of Spies
Brooklyn
Mad Max: Fury Road
Room
Spotlight
The Big Short
The Martian
The Revenant

Actor in a Leading Role:
Bryan Cranston – Trumbo
Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant
Matt Damon – The Martian
Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs

Actor in a Supporting Role:
Christian Bale – The Big Short
Mark Ruffalo – Spotlight
Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies
Tom Hardy – The Revenant
Sylvester Stallone – Creed

Actress in a Leading Role:
Brie Larson – Room
Cate Blanchett – Carol
Charlotte Rampling – 45 Years
Jennifer Lawrence – Joy
Saoirse Ronan – Brooklyn

Actress in a Supporting Role:
Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl
Jennifer Jason Leigh – The Hateful Eight
Kate Winslet – Steve Jobs
Rachel McAdams – Spotlight
Rooney Mara – Carol

Animated Feature Film:
Anomalisa
Boy and the World
Inside Out
Shaun the Sheep Movie
When Marnie Was There

Cinematography:
Ed Lachman – Carol
John Seale – Mad Max: Fury Road
Roger Deakins – Sicario
Robert Richardson – The Hateful Eight
Emmanuel Lubezki – The Revenant

Costume Design:
Sandy Powell – Carol
Sandy Powell – Cinderella
Jenny Beavan – Mad Max: Fury Road
Paco Delgado – The Danish Girl
Jacqueline West – The Revenant

Directing:
George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road
Lenny Abrahamson – Room
Tom McCarthy – Spotlight
Adam McKay – The Big Short
Alejandro G. Inarritu – The Revenant

Documentary Feature:
Amy
Cartel Land
The Look of Silence
What Happened, Miss Simone?
Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom

Documentary Short:
A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness
Body Team 12
Chau, Beyond the Lines
Claude Lanzmamn: Spectres of the Shoah
Last Day of Freeman

Film Editing:
Margaret Sixel – Mad Max: Fury Road
Tom McArdle – Spotlight
Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey – Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Hank Corwin – The Big Short
Stephen Mirrione – The Revenant

Foreign Language Film:
A War
Embrace of the Serpent
Mustang
Son of Saul
Theeb

Makeup and Hairstyling:
Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega and Damian Martin – Mad Max: Fury Road
Love Larson and Eva von Bahr – The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared
Sian Grigg, Duncan Jarman and Robert Pandini – The Revenant

Best Music – Original Song:
“Earned It” – Fifty Shades of Grey / Music and lyrics by Abel Tesfaye, Ahmad Balshe, Jason Daheala Quenneville and Stephan Moccio
“Manta Ray” – Racing Extinction / Music by J. Ralph and lyrics by Antony Hegarty
“Simple Song #3” – Youth / Music and lyrics by David Lang
“Til It Happens to You” – The Hunting Ground / Music and lyric by Diane Warren and Lady Gaga
“Writing’s on the Wall” – Spectre / Music and lyrics by Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith

Music – Original Score:
Thomas Newman – Bridge of Spies
Cartel Burwell – Carol
Johan Johannsson – Sicario
John Williams – Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Ennio Morricone – The Hateful Eight

Production Design:
Bridge of Spies – production design: Adam Stockhausen; set decoration: Rena DeAngelo and Bernhard Henrich
The Danish Girl – production design: Eve Stewart; set decoration: Michael Standish
Mad Max: Fury Road – production design: Colin Gibson; set decoration: Lisa Thompson
The Martian – production design: Arthur Max; set decoration: Celia Bobak
The Revenant – production design: Jack Fisk; set decoration: Hamish Purdy

Short Film (Animated):
Bear Story
Prologue
Sanjay’s Super Team
We Can’t Live Without Cosmos
World of Tomorrow

Short Film (Live Action):
Ave Maria
Day One
Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)
Shok
Stutterer

Sound Editing:
Mark Mangini and David White – Mad Max: Fury Road
Oliver Tarney – The Martian
Martin Hernandez and Lon Bender – The Revenant
Alan Robert Murray – Sicario
Matthew Wood and David Acord – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Sound Mixing:
Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Drew Kunin – Bridge of Spies
Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff and Ben Osmo – Mad Max: Fury Road
Paul Massey, Mark Taylor and Mac Ruth – The Martian
Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montano, Randy Thom and Chris Duesterdiek – The Revenant
Andy Nelson, Christopher Scarabosio and Stuart Wilson – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Visual Effects:
Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Ardington and Sara Bennett – Ex Machina
Andrew Jackson, Tom Wood, Dan Oliver and Andy Williams – Mad Max: Fury Road
Richard Stammers, Anders Langlands, Chris Lawrence and Steven Warner – The Martian
Rich McBride, Matthew Shumway, Jason Smith and Cameron Waldbauer – The Revenant
Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan and Chris Corbould – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Nick Hornby – Brooklyn
Phyllis Nagy – Carol
Emma Donoghue – Room
Charles Randolph and Adam McKay – The Big Short
Drew Goddard – The Martian

Writing (Original Screenplay)
Matt Charman, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen – Bridge of Spies
Alex Garland – Ex Machina
Pete Doctor, Meg LeFauve and Josh Cooley / story by Pete Doctor and Ronnie del Carmen – Inside Out
Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy – Spotlight
Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff / story by S. Leigh Savidge, Alan Wenkus and Andrea Berloff – Straight Outta Compton

[Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]