Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs has addressed the lack of diversity in this year’s Oscar nominations. Last year, a Twitter hashtag, #OscarsSoWhite, made its rounds. Following Thursday’s announcement of nominees for the 88th Annual Academy Awards, the hashtag resurfaced and was trending once again.
“Of course I am disappointed, but this is not to take away the greatness (of the films nominated),” she told Deadline. “This has been a great year in film, it really has across the board. You are never going to know what is going to appear on the sheet of paper until you see it.”
Aside from Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárittu’s whopping 12 nominations for The Revenant, the absence of nominees of color was prevalent. African-American films, including Straight Outta Compton, Concussion and Beasts of No Nation were largely passed on, though Compton received a nomination for its all-white Original Screenplay team.
The lack of diversity this year was particularly apparent in the acting categories. For the second year in a row, all 20 spots in the lead and supporting acting roles were awarded to white actors. Among some critics favorites that were snubbed, Creed star Michael B. Jordon was also not acknowledged, this despite him winning the National Society of Film Critics Best Actor award. His costar Sylvester Stallone was nominated for Supporting Actor. Creed director Ryan Coogler was also overlooked in the director category. Idris Elba didn’t earn a nod for his role in Beasts of No Nation, though he earned Golden Globe, BAFTA and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations. Will Smith, who garnered a Golden Globe acting nomination for Concussion, also received no love from the Academy.
The Academy has made efforts to encourage diversity, including inviting more than 300 new members last summer, many of whom came from various backgrounds, according to USA Today. In November, the Academy Board of Governors gave Spike Lee an Honorary Oscar. Lee blasted the Academy for its lack of diversity during his acceptance speech. Isaacs is the first African-American president of the group and the third woman to hold the position.
“A lot of great work was done this year. However, we are not stopping. We are not deterred. We are moving forward and will continue to move forward with conversation and action,” Isaacs told USA Today. “That needs to happen not just within the Academy, but the entire motion picture industry: to nurture, grow (and) promote talent, in front of and behind the camera.”