Diversity? Not Quite...
In the wake of the 2018 Oscars, Eleanor Austin and Rose Taylor explore this contentious topic
The Oscar nominations have been changing the past few years; from the #OscarsSoWhite scandal in 2016 to the Moonlight mix-up in 2017. By not focusing on the blockbuster headliners in 2018, it has resulted in a diverse set of films being nominated for the Academy Awards.
Despite the (slowly) growing diversity within this specific award show, Halle Berry still remains the only African-American woman to win an award under the category ‘Best Actress’. Asian
representation is still at an all-time low, although this isn’t just within the Oscars, it’s everywhere. The
famous Star Wars series has become increasingly diverse: a female lead (Daisy Ridley) to a British
born actor of Nigerian descent (John Boyega) and a woman of Vietnamese descent (Kelly Marie Tran).
However, Tran, Boyega and Ridley are still yet to grasp awards for their stunning performances as the
beloved new Star Wars characters: Rey, Finn, and Rose Tico.
Many fans were despairing over the lack of nominations for Wonder Woman (12A); even if Gal Gadot
didn’t merit a nomination for Best Actress, the film could have warranted a Best Picture or Best
Director nomination due to the significance of the film and its female director. This film has come at a
time where females are beginning to be heard and director Patty Jenkins uses her platform to create a
positive atmosphere around powerful women, empowering many young girls. Yet many have argued
that although the film was powerful, the acting may not have been worthy of an Oscar nomination. A
positive impact doesn’t necessarily mean Oscar success, even if Wonder Woman was the
first solo female superhero film to be released that has a female director.
This year’s Oscars seem to be a great one for (white) actresses as Three Billboards Outside Ebbing,
Missouri (15) received seven nominations, including Frances McDormand for the ‘Lead Actress’
category. Her powerful acting shed light on the issue of police brutality in the US, whilst still providing
a comedic release for the audience.
The Shape of Water (15) was nominated for thirteen Oscars and provided diversity, with a mute main
character, a gay next door neighbour, and her African-American interpreter. This film shines some
light on not only the lack of racial diversity in films, but also the lack of representation for people with
disabilities (although the actress is not actually mute herself). Although the roles are small, it is a step
forward for those needing a voice. Octavia Spencer, the interpreter, has been nominated for ‘Best
Supporting Actress’, an achievement that hasn’t gone unnoticed by those like her, wanting equality
and fair representation.
Although the Oscars are still lacking the diversity we crave, it is on its way. African-American
representation is increasing, with Hidden Figures (PG) being nominated in 2016 and 2017, and more
movies appearing with diverse casts. Asian and Latino representation is still lacking in Hollywood as a
whole, with very few in any of the categories. Even the Golden Globes lacked representation,
although Oprah Winfrey gave an empowering speech. Even as we require governments to be
representative so we should require awards ceremonies to be the same. Overall, we are on the right track to diversity and truer representation of society, but we have a long way to go.