By Tilak Mehta (Editor-in-Chief).
The absence of non-white actors or actresses in nominations for the top four categories for the second year in a row is raising eyebrows and stirring up controversy. All 20 nominated actors are white, and before 2015, this had not been the case since 1998.
Creed and Straight Outta Compton received one nomination each, but the nominations were for a white screenwriter and/or a white supporting actor respectively.
Creed supporting actor and Oscar nominee, Sylvester Stallone, says he considered not attending the Oscars because his co-star, Michael B. Jordan, and director, Ryan Coogler, were not nominated.
Ryan Litner says it is ridiculous that no Straight Outta Compton actors were nominated for any awards. “That movie brought a lot of attention to some of urban culture and it is such a monumental film. It was so captivating and the Academy simply glossed over it and basically ignored it,” said Litner.
The success of Straight Outta Compton, the highest-grossing music biopic ever, has sparked the production of more hip-hop movies including All Eyez on Me, a Tupac Shakur biopic, and a sequel to Straight Outta Compton called Dogg Pound 4 Life, covering Dr. Dre and Suge Knight’s record label, Death Row Records.
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith say they are boycotting the Academy Awards this year and Spike Lee says he refuses to support the awards.
The Academy board, which votes to select nominees, has responded quickly, vowing to double the number of minority and female members by 2020.
Charlotte Rampling, a nominee for best-actress for her role in 45 Year, says it is possible that black actors did not deserve nominations.
Junior Shalin Patel says that the absence of non-white nominees for the past two years is just a coincidence. “I do not think it is a big deal and I don’t think people should get all worked up about it.”
“I believe that the root of the problem is the disproportionate number of white members in the Academy. In order to diversify the Oscars, you must diversify the Academy,” said Litner.