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David Poland

By David Poland

BYOB Oscar


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117 Responses to “BYOB Oscar”

  1. Stella's Boy says:

    Carol got screwed for Best Picture. In all fairness I haven’t seen all of the nominees yet, but nearly 48 hours after seeing it, Carol is still almost all I can think about. What a devastatingly beautiful film. I love every second of it. So much better than The Martian (which is a solid flick) it’s not even funny.

    Really wish Benicio Del Toro had been nominated for Sicario. Such an incredible performance. Love the movie too and happy it got noms for score and cinematography, both of which are outstanding.

    I’m seeing it tomorrow, but I feel like there’s been a real Revenant backlash. Is it just me? I’ve been reading about how Hardy is great but Leo isn’t, stuff like that. After The Revenant I’ll have seen Spotlight, Mad Max, and The Martian. Still need to see Big Short, Brooklyn, Bridge of Spies, and Room.

  2. Hcat says:

    Haven’t seen Brooklyn yet but still pulling for it to upset, have to think that Carol’s exclusion will only help its chances. Funny how we always wonder how many crowd pleasing blockbusters can make the cut but noone ever asks how many quiet character pieces can possibly fit on the list. Three historical/issue pictures, three dad friendly blockbusters, an intense melodrama but only room for one humanistic period piece.

  3. Mostly Lurking says:

    To be fair, and although I haven’t seen Carol, I’d venture to guess that it’s not nearly as laugh out loud funny as The Martian.

  4. js partisan says:

    Blockbusters are ACTUALLY SEEN by people, Hcat. This is why they should be included in a ceremony, that is supposed to honor ALL OF CINEMA!

    Seriously though, these nominations are a fucking embarrassment. The Academy, through fault all their own, have determined to keep that white privilege train a rolling, and not change the fundamental way they do things. It’s ridiculous Carol didn’t get a nom, Sir Ridley didn’t get a nom, and Star Wars didn’t even get a token Best Picture nod. Seeing as it’s the only film, that most people saw in the theater this past year. Do not even get me started on the way they handled Creed… it’s just so dumb. The Oscars are dumb.

  5. Stella's Boy says:

    Also snubbed is Samuel L. Jackson. He’s really exceptional in The Hateful Eight. I enjoy his performance more than the movie.

  6. js partisan says:

    Oh yeah, did Sir Ridley fucking Jack Valenti’s dead skull? What the fuck does he have to do, for these jamokes to nominate him?

  7. Hcat says:

    Blockbusters are seen by people, and are well represented in the list. As for Star Wars there is an easy fix. Eliminate the best animated category and replace it with an equally populist best picture with a sleeping bag marketing tie-in and then next year you can have Batman and Pixar and Captain America and Star Wars all competing for an oscar and the people magazine crowd can proclaim “finally, I’ve heard of all these films” and be included in the ceremony.

    But I understand your frustration, how can they go with Max over Star Wars, WHAT SEVEN YEAR OLD CARES ABOUT MAD MAX?

  8. Bulldog68 says:

    I think Hardy deserves his nomination. Wish they had space for Jason Mitchell who played Eazy-E in Straight Outta Compton. Can’t say who I would leave out though. And I thought that SOC was one of the best films of the year. Can’t help but think if it was a film about a nostalgic white band that there would have been more nominations.

    Jackson is also a bit of a snub as well. In both Django and Hateful 8 he turned in stellar performances. Amazing that actors with 7 minutes of screen time get nominated but these weighty roles don’t seem to be on the radar.

    And finally Charlize, such a great performances in Mad Max. I have seen none of the films of the Best Actress nominees yet, but damn, she was good.

  9. Stella's Boy says:

    Oh great call on Charlize Theron Bulldog. She is indeed fantastic in Mad Max.

  10. John says:

    Stella’s boy- Sam Jackson ABSOLUTELY deserved a nom for DJANGO. I can see why he was left out for HATEFUL EIGHT, especially since the part is less rich.

    I too was hoping for some Charlize love today, but I’m ecstatic for the recognition FURY ROAD did get.

  11. Stella's Boy says:

    I respectfully disagree. I like his Hateful Eight performance more. Plus I didn’t like Django at all.

  12. movieman says:

    Random thoughts:
    “Straight Outta Compton” was a well-made, entertaining but very conventional musical biopic.
    It didn’t deserve a BP nomination.
    “Love+Mercy” was the better (and vastly more creative) musical biopic and it got squat.
    “Creed,” however, deserved as many nods as “The Revenant.”
    Ironically, Stallone’s nomination reeks of typical Academy tokenism.
    I can’t believe there are people out there–many of them Oscar voters apparently–who seem to actually prefer “TheRevenant” to #”TheMartian.”
    That’s just batshit crazy.
    Glad my beloved “Brooklyn” managed to squeak out a Best Picture nod.
    And that my equally adored J-Law scored her fourth nomination.
    “Joy” deserved a lot more attention than it received, however.
    I guess if eternal bridesmaid Mark Ruffalo gets nominated enough times he’s bound to win someday.
    Mind-blowing that egregious Eddie Redmayne got nominated two years in a row but Michael Keaton (who deserved to win last year) didn’t.
    Delighted that “When Marnie Was There” got nominated and Pixar’s mediocre “The Good Dinosaur” didn’t.
    It seems like the Academy has forgotten Marlon Brando.
    How else to explain “Listen To Me Marlon” not receiving a Best Documentary nod?

  13. Stella's Boy says:

    I found Joy (despite the soap opera stuff) to be a pretty conventional and dull biopic. Lawrence is an excellent actress and I like her performance, but the movie didn’t do much for me.

  14. movieman says:

    Loved “Joy” (and Lawrence’s performance), SB.
    But I realize that I’m pretty much in a minority on the latter.
    “The Revenant” love continues to baffle me, though.
    Is it really possible that Inarittu could repeat?
    Ironic that the great Tom Hardy received his first nomination for his only 2016 performance that wasn’t very good. (And yes, I’m including “Child 44.”)
    Maybe the surprise best picture and director nods for “Room” will translate to people actually, y’know, seeing it.

  15. js partisan says:

    Hcat, I am sorry regular moviegoers piss you off that much.

    Movieman, I agree with the insanity about the Academy, and their love of the Revenant over The Martian. It’s fucking nonsensical.

    Straight Out of Compton, is about one of the most important groups in the history of MUSIC. Their story, should have at least gotten more than a screenplay nom.

    How you could like Joy though, is a fucking mystery. That movie is garbage, because it fucking takes such a great story, and turns it into Scorcese-lite crap.

  16. YancySkancy says:

    Carol is surely a victim of the weighted voting method, right? The individual branches seemed to like it just fine (six nominations).

    I guess my dark horse victory prediction for Brooklyn ain’t happening, with only three nominations.

    I heard the studio neglected to send screeners for Creed. Didn’t that happen with Selma last year?

    It’s almost amusing that the only nod for Straight Outta Compton is for the screenwriters. Four white screenwriters.

  17. Hcat says:

    Not pissed at all js, I have no problem with blockbusters, love them myself, and being honest I am more likely to see something that is a larger hit over an indie (this is largely due to geography and time) in the theater. But the idea of there being a token slot for the years big hit(no matter how big)seems off to me. Star Wars has the Box Office crown, it made millions of people happy, I cant imagine they are kicking themselves for not getting on the Oscar shortlist.

  18. pat says:

    Oh the Academy remembers Marlon Brando all right. They never forget…Or forgive.

  19. jepressman says:

    Oscars go to Partisan and Pat for most interesting and correct Oscar commentary. I guess Hollywood loves the bear,beats me as to why. Here’s a question,is Eddy Redmayne someone’s relative,hence all the Oscar support for the guy.Lawrence yet again???? Yeah she’s a regular Sarah Bernhardt.As for passing over Ridley Scott….now that was a whopper of a mistake. Also come on guys …no Star Wars love….really….another big mistake.

  20. MAGGA says:

    Question to blockbuster fans: why do the Oscars matter to you? They matter to me because the studios fight to impress the voters when they greenlight films, and so we get alternatives to the big franchises. If those start taking the awards, they will be the only game in town. Can’t you just be glad you won? Those movies dominate most of the year. Isn’t it OK for another type of cinema to have an engine, a reason for them being greenlit? The movies that are nominated are rarely all that I’d like, but this period is when I go to the movies the most. I can wait for streaming for the big action spectacles. That’s me, and not an insult to you. Why do you need these movies to be awarded as well as being the most popular with the public? Shouldn’t there be room for more? What’s next, Furious 9 winning at Cannes? Cinderella dominating at Sundance? We need these voters to be “snobs” so that a broader cinema can live, even in this generally narrow, uninventive period of American film. The Oscars provide a service on some level, which is why it matters. Honoring Star Wars would be meaningless, even to the studio that made it. I can see hoping for Straight Outta Compton to win, for example, but The Martian? Star Wars? Mant? No point in that. What good would it do?

  21. MarkVH says:

    Star Wars for best picture would have been an embarrassment. Glad it didn’t happen. And Mad Max nomination pretty much shoots down any complaints about Star Wars and the Academy not liking blockbusters and/or genre fare. Max was ballsy, visionary, beautiful. Star Wars was safe, boring, vanilla so of course it made a ton of cash. But an Oscar nomination? Don’t hurt yourself.

    Creed shutout aside from Stallone is a cryin’ shame.

    Head-scratcher for me is Ruffalo over Keaton in Spotlight. Keaton was by far the best perf in the film for me, and I liked him better in it than Birdman.

  22. brack says:

    Fury Road getting a nomination outside of technical awards is a win for blockbuster lovers. It’s not even close to being the best Mad Max movie, let alone being one of the best movies of this or any year. It’s probably the most overrated Best Picture nominee since Gladiator, with the only difference being that Fury Road has little chance of winning Best Picture.

  23. jepressman says:

    The film business is now bifurcated into populist ,”blockbusters,” and favorite film festival movies,of the art house and avant gard variety. Is there not an audience and support for these films? Film buzz is directed to these films not the bigger budgeted movies, which at times get treated with contempt…as in oh no Will Smith is actually in a serious movie…well we don’t have to take that seriously! For the record Mad Max, and the Martian are extremely well done by very able directors. These films actually have a domestic movie audience and a large foreign audience.However I have no doubt Hollywood will award the movie they think is noteworthy,you know the usual Hollywood pretentious film.

  24. Pete B. says:


    Sorry dude, but your assessment of MM:FR is MEDIOCRE!!!

    I might agree that The Road Warrior is a better Mad Max film, but “most overrated”? Nah, not by a long shot.

  25. EtGuild2 says:

    Aside from Idris Elba, not sure I buy the “white” argument this year…’s the films being made, sadly. I could maybe get behind Kiki Rodriguez from TANGERINE. That’s about it.

  26. Greg says:

    Would have liked to have seen Michael Caine and Youth recognized.
    While I liked Carol, all I could think watching it was it was Carol: Brokeback Mountain 2. Is it not the same story?

  27. Hcat says:

    So any speculation on what the Oscar bumps will be this weekend?

    Is Room going to do 5 times what it did last weekend?

    Brooklyn double its last outing?

    Will Revenent fall less than 30% for the three day?

    Last week a few of the commenters here were a little aghast at the 135 million price tag for Revenent but I’m thinking the run through Oscar season will put it at $150 domestic and likely $250+ international (the world loves its Leo) I can see this breaking even with just theatrical, and a lot of ancillary gravy.

  28. Stella's Boy says:

    Interesting take Greg. Can’t say I considered that before. EtGuild2, no love for Samuel L. Jackson in Hateful Eight? I think he gives a really phenomenal performance easily worthy of an Oscar nomination.

    I’ll be seeing Room ASAP. Just saw The Revenant. Like it a lot. Stunningly gorgeous. Hard to compare it to The Martian as they are so different. Not sure why there’s a Leo backlash. Is it because he grunts so much? I still think it’s a great performance. I have to say though that Backcountry’s bear attack is better and more terrifying.

  29. leahnz says:

    don’t you mean brokeback mountain should be ‘brokeback mountain: Carol 2’? since ‘carol’ is adapted from a novel written in 1952 as ‘the price of salt’ retitled ‘carol’ in subsequent releases and then quite faithfully adapted for film, while ‘brokeback mountain’ was written far more recently as a 1997 short and adapted for the screen. brokeback copies carol by this rationale

    “Last week a few of the commenters here were a little aghast at the 135 million price tag for Revenent”

    i think it was just one, me (beyond outrageous production costs hardly seem to raise an eyebrow anymore, not good for diverse cinema or sustainable imo)

  30. movieman says:

    “Aside from Idris Elba, not sure I buy the “white” argument this year…”

    What about Michael B. Jordan, Et?
    Jordan deserved a Best Actor nomination (far) more than lightweight Eddie Redmayne. And he merited a nod as much as his worthy costar Sly Stallone.

    Not sure whether Elba truly earned a slot.
    He was “fine,” but the film is such a cold fish I can see why it engendered so little love w/ Oscar voters.
    Re: the kid from “Beasts” everyone is saying was robbed. I could only understand (at best) 50% of his dialogue.
    If any juvenile actor was “robbed” this year, it was Jacob Tremblay.

  31. YancySkancy says:

    movieman: Watch “Beasts” again with close caption on. The kid (Abraham Attah) is fantastic. Don’t hold his Ghanaian accent against him.

    EtGuild2: I thought Mya Taylor was way better than Kitana Kiki Rodgriguez in Tangerine. Kiki’s performance felt like a director harnessing a performer’s real-life personality for his purposes, while Mya’s felt like the work of a real actor. IMO, of course.

    As for the “white” argument — Isn’t it true that a performance could be the 4th or 5th choice on the ballot of literally EVERY acting branch voter and still not reach the minimum percentage necessary for a nomination? I mean, obviously we can’t know if that happens, but I would imagine that Elba especially got a lot of votes, just not enough in the 1st or 2nd position to get him to the nomination. Same thing with Selma last year: it clearly got a sufficient percentage of votes to rate a Best Picture nod, so it seems reasonable to think that DuVernay and Oyelowo also had a lot of support, just not enough in the top couple of ballot spots.

  32. leahnz says:


  33. EtGuild2 says:

    @movieman…I like Michael B Jordan, but was his performance close to what he did in FRUITVALE STATION? No…it’s very good boxing movie, but people are just pissed about the lack of diversity. That, in of itself, is not enough to justify a nomination. Richard Gere, who gives a truly remarkable performance in TIME OUT OF MIND, was far more deserving than Jordan and many of the nominees, but no one cares to watch a verite’ movie about homelessness, alcoholism and mental illness. Fair enough…but Jordan was in no way “snubbed” specifically.

    @stella….maybe. Supporting actor is a travesty this year. Elba, Michael Shannon and Michael Keaton deserve to knock out Stallone, Bale and Ruffalo. Not sure that leaves room for Sam Jackson though.

  34. EtGuild2 says:

    yancy, I feel like your post deserves a discussion. I thought both Mya and Kiki were excellent in TANGERINE, but for myself and many I think, there’s definitely a block when dealing with flamboyant gay/trans performances. There’s the sense that…well, this is how “they” ARE, let’s see them get jacked and play Chris Kyle in the stage version of AMERICAN SNIPER.

    Extreme fabulousness, even as a millenial gay guy, is sometimes hard to deal with. It’s immediately dismissed as a camp affectation.

    The argument of Kiki vs Mya performance-wise is a fascinating one. Kiki leaves it all out there…it’s a performance of fearlessness, where you feel she’s sharing herself…but it’s also the most “screaming” (sorry) lead role I’ve ever seen. Mya is more nuanced like you say…and there’s an added burden to being someone of Mya’s color and stature. But when you see Kiki and Mya interviewed, they seem identical, which leads me to believe Kiki’s performance was more of a stretch.

    Regardless, there’s definitely an issue with dismissing Trans actors as “just being themselves,” that I find myself doing (of course, the idea that Mya and Kiki never identify as Trans muddies the waters further…and after toying with the idea that these could be gay men who dress as women, amplifies the brilliance of TANGERINE). There’s a point, for me, where a person’s sexuality and gender identity ends up inhibiting their acting ability…and I can’t decide whether it’s fair or not. I’m glad the Spirit Awards are showcasing TANGERINE to continue the discussion.

  35. movieman says:

    I’m glad you mentioned Gere, Et. His performance was completely forgotten about, as was Ben Vereen’s superb supporting turn in the same film.
    And I bet if IFC had pushed Kristen Stewart as hard as they did Charlotte Rampling and “45 Years,” she might have gotten the nomination she so richly deserved. Delighted to see a performance as subtle as Rampling’s get recognized, though.

  36. Stella's Boy says:

    Keaton is fine in Spotlight, and I think Spotlight is a much better movie than Hateful Eight, but Jackson’s performance is better. Need to see 99 Homes yet.

  37. EtGuild2 says:

    @movieman, agree big time on CLOUDS.

    Nina Hoss from PHOENIX gave a staggering performance and is likewise overlooked thanks to coming from a foreign production.

  38. movieman says:

    Speaking of Nina Hoss, did you see her strong work on “Homeland” this season?
    I’d love to see Hoss class up some Hollywood movies next.

  39. js partisan says:

    Ethan, you are not sure where the white argument is coming from? Really? Creed. I don’t care about this bullshit, that David was pushing about the campaign. Members saw that fucking movie, and decided to nominate the white guy. It’s pathetic on every fucking level, but this is the Academy. These are the people who continue to make themselves, and their award look fucking dumb. Those members need to realize, that shit is fucking changing in this country. They either get off of that privilege, or continue their slide into irrelevance.

    Mark, ha.

    Magga, that’s a nice fucking strawman, but let’s just call a spade a fucking spade. The Academy, because they are fucking snobbish privilege having jamokes, have decided to ignore the films that people actually see. If a Fast and Furious movie is fucking good, then they should reward it. It should at least be nominated, but we live in a world where the biggest films, even when they are actual great films, receive zero recognition.

    It’s this attitude, along with their privilege, that has made the Academy and their award, fucking dumb. It’s fucking dumb, and counter to producing a great show. That’s why honoring Star Wars, the movie that got the most people to the theatre, makes sense, but the Academy are dumb like their award is dumb.

  40. EtGuild2 says:

    JS… If CREED and BEASTS OF NO NATION (a so-so movie [and in many ways a sub-par rip-off of WAR WITCH] with a great Elba performance) are what’s being pushed, there’s no argument at all, but it hasn’t stopped writers from decrying the awards system, when it’s the film-making system that’s the problem.

    Frankly, it’s abhorrent that people are upset about Jordan here thanks to Stallone, when no one cared at all about the vastly superior FRUITVALE STATION. Hypocrites are now crawling out of the woodwork because 12 YEARS A SLAVE and THE BUTLER happened to come out the same year as FRUITVALE.

    The same people who get pissed off about the awards when the films are totally lacking, are happy to gloss past the oversights in years rich with diversity.

  41. leahnz says:

    actually i seem to remember quite a bit of conversation about ‘fruitvale’ and (lack of any) oscar noms.
    it’s subjective about a year’s batch of films being ‘totally lacking’ vs ‘rich with diversity’ – just because you personally feel the films in question aren’t up to snuff doesn’t mean there isn’t heavy white male bias at play and indeed part of an obvious pattern in academy voting. it’s a biased (and at this point corrupt) “contest”, always has been.

    why is nobody ever talking about the elephant in the room (though movieman mentions it above) in terms of perpetuating the academy’s bias, which is that the oscars have become a shameful fucking travesty wherein a serious ‘campaign’ is required with a considerable $ tag and requisite glad-handing and brown-nosing to get a nomination for the most part now, who gets a ‘push’ from the bean counters, that this has become pretty much de rigour and actually decides who gets nominated for an award for artistic/technical excellence is repulsive. the system is completely corrupt.

    get rid of ALL the ‘campaigning’ bullshit, make sure the membership has viewed all the applicable material (or they simply can not vote) and choose the nominees accordingly, then watch all the insipid awards ‘narratives’ and glad handing/buying the way to nominations evaporate. then addressing the comfort zone/bias of a bunch of old white dudes can maybe happen.

    the other elephant in the room: The Big Short. WTactualF. i can see the nom for writing, making a convoluted topic more accessible and slightly amusing in a couple spots, maaaaybe a nom for ‘best pic’ in an expanded field of 10 since brad pitt/plan b seems good at getting stuff nominated in the boy’s club, but a Best Directing spot and the acting noms over other perfs is fucking insane. the movie is amongst the most blandly-directed flicks i’ve ever seen, there’s maybe 4 types of medium/close up shots used over and over and over and over (i made that number up, i’d have to see it again to really count but around that) and the acting is ok, one-note aspergian douches and nerds are well represented, but give me a break, in terms of film-making it’s decidedly average and not even close to an achievement in excellence. where’s all the ‘it could be a well-edited tv movie’ talk? oh right, i forgot the double-standard when it’s a bunch of white dudes.

  42. YancySkancy says:

    EtGuild2: I admit my impression of the relative level of acting talent of the Tangerine stars is, by necessity, limited by this being my only experience of them. I’ve seen no interviews or other performances by them (I believe each was only in a couple of short films prior to this). I think what I keyed in on was their varying “comfort level” with dialogue (though I presume at least some improv was going on). Mya’s delivery seemed natural to me, whereas Kiki seemed more forced and “on.” Of course being “on” like that is probably perfectly in character for her role, so maybe I shouldn’t penalize her for it. But I surmised, whether correctly or not, that the director had written that role to what he perceived would be easiest for her to capture, something close to her own personality. But yes, I admit it was just a guess. I eagerly await their next roles to see how they do.

  43. YancySkancy says:

    Clearly the problem with the Oscars and diversity lies in the lack of diversity in films, not the supposed racism of the Academy, which has honored many performers of color over the years, especially in the last couple of decades. A lack of a nomination for any particular performance isn’t “proof” of anything other than the fact that not enough voters ranked it among their top five choices in the category. I mean, are we assuming that when a black performer gets nominated or wins it’d because the racists are so impressed they can’t help but vote for them? “Damn that Denzel! I hate to vote for one of ‘them,’ but he’s just so damn good!”

    I take leah’s point about the campaigning b.s. Many voters are either too busy or too lazy to see as many films as the average movie fan, so smart campaigners (especially the ones with deep pockets) swoop in to basically say, “Hey! Over here! Oscar-worthy stuff here!” Squeaky wheel gets the grease. Looks like Warners miscalculated Creed’s Oscar chances early on, and didn’t do enough to turn the tide. The Sly “comeback” narrative was an easy sell that didn’t require much actual selling.

    The only “fixes” for this whiteness issue are 1) more diversity in the films being made; and 2) more willingness for Academy members to see acclaimed work, whether some campaigner or prognosticator is in their face or not.

  44. leahnz says:

    really, is the discussion about subconscious bias necessary all over again, every time this topic comes up?

    funny, i bet the people who judged the orchestral auditions wherein only male musicians were hired for a very long time were also convinced there was no systemic bias and they were judging on ‘merit’ until blind auditions taught them a serious lessen in gender bias, sexism and discrimination. the sheer delusional stubbornness of ‘bias deniers’ is truly extraordinary.

    the use of the word ‘racist’ (or ‘sexist’ in terms of gender representation/discrimination) to imply some sort of all-or-nothing stance in the academy membership is simply ignorant. so the academy is either a bunch of foaming at the mouth aryan supremacists on the verge of reaching for their white pointy sheets when they watch the movies they watch, and vote the way they vote, or they’re not racist at all! and it’s all just, you know, come one, the ‘woman’ movies, the ‘black’ movies, the ‘other’, they just aren’t quite good enough at the end of the day. but these thoroughly middling, mediocre movies by/about white guys somehow they ARE good enough for nominations but we can’t quite put a finger on the difference…)

    is more ‘diversity’ in film necessary? no doubt. is that the sole reason films made by/about not-white men are generally so severely lacking in academy representation? no way. how anyone can argue there isn’t a serious [straight] white male bias in the academy made up of overwhelmingly white dudes (skewing older to boot) is hilarious. apparently white maleness is so deeply rooted as the norm in film culture that a lot of white guys can’t even seem to ADMIT it, it’s very bizarre.

    i’d like to hear a serious argument of how something like ‘the big short’ for instance is a better directed, superior example of film-making and performance over the likes of ‘creed’, or ‘beasts’, even ‘compton’ as a populist piece of social commentary

  45. YancySkancy says:

    Well, I said nothing about there being “no racism at all” in the Academy. I’m sure there is, and I’m sure there are also voters who have an unconscious bias. But I’m also sure that the Academy has given many nominations and awards to people of color over the last couple of decades. Was there significantly less unconscious bias in those years for some reason?

    The great thing about this unconscious bias argument is you don’t have to prove it. You extrapolate from these orchestral studies that the principle must apply to Academy voters as well. And again, I’m not saying it doesn’t; I’m saying perhaps it does to some degree, with some percentage of voters, but I don’t know how to measure its effect, and I’m not sure anyone else does either (until they do a study, I suppose). And there’s no defense against the charge either, because those who suffer from this bias are by definition not conscious of it.

    I do believe in unconscious bias to this extent: A white voter of a certain age (male or female) is probably going to get more out of The Big Short than Straight Outta Compton, even if they’re the most liberal, color-blind person on the planet. And they may wrongly assume that the former speaks to them more because it’s better written or more timely or more “important,” without seeing that there’s a cultural issue. But how do you “fix” that? Encourage more white people in their 50s to try to appreciate rap?

    It may be naive of me, but it just seems to me that when the Academy is exposed to black actors in “Oscar bait” roles, they give them serious consideration and often nominate them. I would love someone to explain to me why the failure to nominate Michael B. Jordan or Idris Elba this year or David Oyelowo last year carries more weight than the nominations received in recent years by Denzel Washington, Jamie Foxx, Terrence Howard, Don Cheadle, Will Smith, Morgan Freeman, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Halle Berry, Gabourey Sidibe, Viola Davis, Quevenzhane Wallis, Djimon Hounsou, Eddie Murphy, Barkhad Abdi, Queen Latifah, Sophie Okonedo, Jennifer Hudson, Taraji P. Henson, Mo’Nique and Lupita Nyong’o (some with multiple nominations, some with wins). Are the facts of these nominations and wins less meaningful than the unconscious bias theory? How do the two things co-exist in a way that makes sense to you?

    I see that I’m overwriting this in an effort to be as clear as possible, but it’s probably too much and my points will get lost. So let me just end with this:

    I’m not a “bias denier.” I simply question whether unconscious bias is prevalent enough to be the root cause when people of color are “snubbed.” For a phenomenon that you seem to think is undeniable, it sure has a spotty record.

  46. EtGuild2 says:

    Well said.

  47. brack says:

    “Sorry dude, but your assessment of MM:FR is MEDIOCRE!!!

    I might agree that The Road Warrior is a better Mad Max film, but “most overrated”? Nah, not by a long shot.”

    Good god, that whole “mediocre” thing in the movie is still cringe-worthy. Just idiotic. Maybe that was the point, but I just didn’t like it.

    Fury Road is highly overrated, with one-dimensional characters and having the title character not even being the lead in the movie. Some good action, no doubt, but I found the characters in Beyond Thunderdome more engaging. It’s the least of any MM film.

  48. leahnz says:

    yancy ftr i don’t think ‘snub’ is really the right word to use re awards, i know i didn’t use it (i don’t think you ‘overwrote’ your comment. well maybe but coming from me who overwrites and babbles on consistently that would be next-level hypocrisy, evidence to follow haha)

    first of all, you set up a shaky premise and comparison from the start because there were several more options/possibilities to nominate fine performances and film-making by non-white people this year (and last year, and so on) in more mainstream film than just the three you mention. this narrow field of consideration to the exclusion of other viable candidates to make your point makes it seem like you’re just parroting some talking point rather looking at the actual issue of systemic bias.

    “Are the facts of these nominations and wins less meaningful than the unconscious bias theory? How do the two things co-exist in a way that makes sense to you?”

    how do they co-exist? this is such a bizarre argument, that serious bias can’t exist because some non-white people have been nominated/even won oscars in the past (in very low numbers, comparatively/percentage-wise). maybe look at it this way, using gender bias as an example: it’s a fact that in corporate employment women work in large numbers but when it comes to the highest echelon of corporate life, female CEOs make up only about 4% of all company CEOs (in the US).
    so would you then argue that because of that 4% of women at the top, gender bias and sexism in corporate life aren’t really much of an issue or a barrier to success, because how can the two things exist in a way that makes sense? hopefully you get how silly this argument sounds.

    now, it terms of bias in the viewing of nominatable films and the selection of nominees by an overwhelming white and mostly male, older-skewing academy (keeping in mind that campaign $$$ is now the prime factor in buying noms – as always, cash is king), since you brought up some specific recent examples of black nominees in an attempt to invalidate to concept of bias, lets look at some of the actual main category stats: actor, actress, director (leaving out supporting actor/tress noms because supporting roles by definition are secondary in the narrative and the supporting category is less rigid/more diverse in general with the types of perfs nominated, plus it will keep this shorter).

    what roles are the white academy comfortable with in terms of black people in the industry? since your examples are recent – looks like mostly since 1990ish – i’ll use that as a cut-off for recent/more modern noms, the last 25 years.

    best director:
    since 1990 (and includes all noms in the history of the awards): 3 out of 125 (2.5%), no wins

    best actress:
    since 1990: 5 noms out of 125 (4%) 1 win
    roles: 4 out of 5 roles are victims of violence/abuse, or a stoic servant (1 child perf)

    best actor:
    since 1990: 14 noms out of 125 (11%) 3 wins
    4 – just under 1/3 of all noms – for Denzel
    2 for Freeman
    2 for Smith
    Freeman, Smith and Denzel account for over half of all the best actor noms for black men in this time period
    roles: OVERWHELMINGLY biopics of historical/real life figures (10 of 14, roughly 75%)

    (just to note i don’t mean to diminish any of these people/their performances by using reductive language in this post to try to make a larger point more quickly)

    i think this actually paints a telling picture of the type of bias and narrow boxes that black performers and film-makers are expected to occupy to be ‘celebrated’, what the academy is comfortable with. if you’re a black actress, being a victim of violence/abuse or a stoic servant sure helps; if you’re a black actor, apart from being Denzel, Freeman or Smith, amongst the few black male movie stars, be a historical/real life black figure!

    would anyone even begin to argue that white performers (esp male actors) are celebrated within such a narrow purview? or the infinitesimal scarcity of black director nominees? hope not, that would be sad.

    this topic of bias and the people who just can’t quite get how and why it’s real and it’s important are kind of exhausting, i wonder if there will ever come a time when all this bullshit just goes away

  49. Triple Option says:

    Did the songs’ previous release on the NWA album Straight Outta Compton cause them to not be eligible for an Oscar for Straight Outta Compton the movie? Seems like some music nod should’ve been a gimmie for that film.

    One thing i didn’t see, but admittedly I’m not an Academy member so I wouldn’t have had materials directly marketed to me, was singling out any particular actor in Compton to be recognized or a decent amount of name association. It’s not that I forgot who played Dre, I don’t know his name. Or Easy’s. We know it’s Cube’s son but if I write Cube’s son on a ballot somewhere is that going to mean anything to anyone to get him nominated?

    I’m sure money has always been an issue but to me in 1998/9 when Elizabeth & Shakespeare in Love were battling it out, the ads for each were like an arms race. Since then to me it seems like those trophies could be, well maybe not bought but definitely swayed too much by dollars spent. Even in some sort of weird shaming way. Like, you see so much push behind a film as far as the marketing creep that to not vote for it seems like to be admitting to being out of touch. Ironic as that may sound.

    I haven’t seen The Big Short or Spotlight yet but my top film for 2015 was Sicario. It didn’t look like Lionsgate opened up their purses for that film and it paid for it in the tally box. I thought that had thing had three of the big six categories locked up and figured they prolly were looking at 6-7 assuredly in all. Shows what I know.

    I generally like action films but this latest Mad Max didn’t do it for me. I’d be more than happy if The Martian won BP but because there aren’t enough noble deaths or weepy speeches or Shakespearean soliloquy pondering existence type pieces in there, the Academy’s not going to honor it. If you can’t erase what an Oscar type film is, you won’t have Batman or Star Wars films getting nominated. Nor too many people of color nominated when they’re not servants, slaves, criminals or 2nd class citizens. But I think the later will require more than just an expanded perception of what films should be deemed worthy.

  50. js partisan says:

    Check out The Big Short, because it’s fucking hilarious. Is it best picture material? Not really, but I fucking love it anyway.

    Check out Spotlight, because Ruffalo alone.

    Leah, in ten years, this shit will hopefully be a thing of the past. If not, Straight Outta Cotton may become a real thing, and that’s fucking terrible.

  51. palmtree says:

    The music noms are all weird. First of all, it’s missing all the biggest song from a movie last year, “See You Again,” which seemed like it would be nominated for sure if not win. Universal must have been too busy counting their money to campaign for it.

    And then there’s the disqualification of the score from The Revenant, which yes, Innaritu uses some classical pieces so it’s not eligible, but the original score is pretty darn good too.

  52. leahnz says:

    interesting comment Triple Option

    it’s when Straight Outta Polyester happens we’re in real trouble as a species

    (ftr i don’t dislike ‘the big short’ as a movie in spite of its shortcomings, but a directing nom for it is flat-out hilarious, and not in a good way – and bale’s acting nom at the expense of far better supporting perfs is annoying. ‘Spotlight’ is a good movie, a bit of a throwback to the old-fashioned painstaking journalistic procedural of days of yore, glad to see mccarthy back in the saddle, ‘the station agent’ will always be one of my fave flicks)

    sicario don’t need no awards validation (few of my best of 2015 were nominated) and the whole thing is a bit of a farce at this point, but its absence apart from deakins’ photography is a little unexpected, perhaps it just goes to show ya if you don’t pony up the big bucks for a political campaign your horse eats oats in the stable come race day?

  53. EtGuild2 says:

    While statistics are fun, they have their limitations, because it’s impossible to determine whether the percentage of nominees is greater or less than the percentage of minority-led films released by non-straghtt-indie studios. It would be a full time job to figure that out–but I suspect the percentage of nominations in recent years is actually higher than the percentage of total films released.

    Again, it’s definitely a problem, especially the casting, but it’s just weird that everyone goes bananas over the end result, not the formation of the process, just because the awards are much more highly visible.

  54. Stella's Boy says:

    Since the campaign factor has been brought up here, did A24 run an aggressive campaign for Room itself and not just Larson? Before this weekend it had only grossed $5 million since its initial October limited release. The Larson nomination isn’t a surprise as the buzz for her has been strong since its first screening, but I am shocked it got all those other nominations. But maybe A24 went all out. I have no idea.

  55. palmtree says:

    Since some people seem to be stuck on actual nuts and bolts rather than stats, how about this?

    The Gurus O Gold placed Straight Outta Compton tied for 9th for Best Picture and Idris Elba in 3rd for Best Supporting Actor. That was on January 5th.

    Compton’s Best Picture nom seemed like it depended on whether the Academy would extend it to 10 BP noms, which they didn’t.

    However, Elba’s nomination suddenly went from presumptive nominee to gone. It wasn’t some kind of wishful thinking, but an actual prediction people who follow the Oscars professionally made. So if you’re telling me that people of color weren’t in the running, you’re mistaken.

  56. hcat says:

    Stella – A24 seems to be a weird animal. Distributors of their size never seem to be able to make it into the larger conversation of the academy, but instead have to settle for Independent Spirit Awards and being critical darlings. Even last year they werent able to create a substantial buzz for Under the Skin and A Most Violent Year despite both films being heralded on top ten lists. The difference this year is that the campaigning actually began in March for their entire slate. They have had the PR machine running overtime all year getting their name out there as a next last great hope for the future of quality cinema. Their success with Ex Machina and Amy certainly helped with branding them as the david to the Disney/Universal goliath, so when Room came around it was not the uphill battle that someone like IFC or Netflix face. They may have successfully positioned themselves the same way Weinstein/Searchlight/SPC has where from now on almost every post October release will be part of the conversation merely because of who is pushing it.

  57. Stella's Boy says:

    @hcat Interesting. I’m glad they did go all out because I absolutely loved Room. Larson and Tremblay were as good as advertised and it’s very moving. I figured the performances would be great but the movie itself is also excellent. Really got to me. Room and Ex Machina would both make my top 10 list, and I also really liked Under the Skin and A Most Violent Year. The Witch looks fantastic. A24 is on quite a run. Hope it continues.

  58. hcat says:

    Also jazzed about The Witch even though the handful of releases of theirs that I have seen has left me a little cold. Ex Machina, Skin, While We’re Young, Obvious Child were all strong films but none of them really hit me as WOW but that could just be a matter of expectations since they have all been talked up so before I get around to seeing them.

    But I have to say I am most impressed that they are surviving entirely on the hip independent audience when independent film companies in the past always leaned on stuffier English Patient/My Left Foot type prestige pictures for their real bread and butter. Its interesting to see if a studio can make it on a steady diet of Swingers/Take Shelter type films.

  59. Ray Pride says:

    The DirecTv deal, plus Universal/Working Title behind the scenes for Ex Machina didn’t hurt.

  60. YancySkancy says:

    leah: “first of all, you set up a shaky premise and comparison from the start because there were several more options/possibilities to nominate fine performances and film-making by non-white people this year (and last year, and so on) in more mainstream film than just the three you mention.”

    I just named a few of the ones most talked about as potential nominees. There are always more options than the Academy seems willing to consider, regardless of race. Every year we bitch that great indie and foreign films fly under Oscars’ radar and don’t get serious awards campaigns. When actors of color are in higher profile films such as Creed, Concussion and Beasts of No Nation, they will at least be part of the awards conversation. It’s never enough with the Academy to just give a fine performance. That performance has to be seen and buzzed about to break through the noise.

    As for your gender bias example (4% of CEOs being women), if the pool of potential Oscar nominees was, say, 50% non-white but only 4% of actual nominees were, that would definitely show bias. Given that the film industry rarely makes Oscar bait films with non-white stars, it’s may be a miracle that there are at least a few every year who seem to have a shot. But again, this is a problem with the industry; it’s only an Academy problem by extension.

    leah: “this is such a bizarre argument, that serious bias can’t exist because some non-white people have been nominated/even won oscars in the past (in very low numbers, comparatively/percentage-wise).”

    Not what I said. You assert that unconscious bias prevents non-whites from being nominated…um, except when it doesn’t? If it exists in a large enough percentage of the Academy to affect the nominations, how do any non-white performers ever break through?

    leah: “since you brought up some specific recent examples of black nominees in an attempt to invalidate to concept of bias, lets look at some of the actual main category stats: actor, actress, director..”

    First of all, I thought I was clear that I’m not trying to “invalidate the concept of bias.” I acknowledge it’s a real thing. Our disagreement is to what extent it affects the nomination process. As for your stats, I’m not sure that going back to 1990 is all that productive. The examples I gave only went back to 2000, since I think those years are the ones in which the Academy started making more of an effort to nominate non-whites.

    As to the types of roles for which non-whites tend to be nominated, this strikes me as an “award-bait” problem in general. Regardless of race, your nomination chances increase if you’re playing a real-life figure or someone who’s endured some extreme hardship or the embodiment of some hot-button issue that engages voters. White performers have more opportunities outside these categories because they have more opportunities in general — because most movies are about white people. The odds are decidedly in their favor. I wonder what percentage of theatrically released American films in a given year star non-white performers in award-worthy performances (subjective as that designation may be). And what percentage of those are from companies that can afford an awards campaign? And what percentage of those are likely to make a voter’s list of five (which is totally subjective, of course)?

    Perhaps part of my trouble with this whole thing is this: I have no racial bias when it comes to assessing the quality of an acting performance (you’ll have to trust me on this). Like many film buffs, I make my own lists of favorite performances, and unlike the Academy, I give equal weight to everything I see — there are no personal politics, voting for friends, worrying about what an award “says” to the world, or giving my ballot to my spouse or child or maid. There are years in which my list includes several non-whites and years in which there are only a couple, or none. Because I’m voting for a performance, not a race. I give this same benefit of the doubt to most Academy voters (again, not all, because of course there are bound to be instances of racism and unconscious bias — I just don’t think they define the problem).

  61. YancySkancy says:

    I think my horse is now beaten to death, so I’ll try to stop unless you want me to clarify any of that.

  62. brack says:

    I’m glad that Furious 7 song wasn’t nominated. That song got old very quickly. I never particularly liked it, nor Charlie Puth’s singing style.

  63. palmtree says:

    No matter how you feel about the song, it’s used really well in the movie. And that’s what they’re basing the nomination on.

  64. palmtree says:

    And to clarify the point I was making earlier, Idris Elba isn’t just dropped out of the running. He’s the ONLY (acting nomination) who isn’t correctly predicted by the Gurus. They have a perfect record minus the one mistake…they thought Idris was 3rd most likely to get nominated and they thought Tom Hardy was possible but not likely.

    Somehow The Revenant and Tom Hardy himself must have made an impression. I enjoyed Hardy’s performance, much more than Leo’s to be honest.

    But it is odd when an actor and his performance have all the awards buzz but still can’t get into the nominations…and he just happens to be black. There could be a ton of different reasons for this, but I’m curious what they are when literally his nomination would have easily saved the Academy the embarrassment of Oscars So White part deux.

  65. YancySkancy says:

    palmtree: I suspect it’s because the individual voters are just listing their favorite performances, not worrying about what the final tally is going to look like. Presumably, everyone who thought Elba gave one of the five best performances by an actor in a supporting role included him on their ballot. The ones who didn’t left him off rather than include him as a “statement.”

  66. palmtree says:

    Yancy, that’s a smartass answer. Yes yes, I know, the voters voted what they wanted…obviously. I’m not implying they should have voted to make a statement.

    I’m asking for an explanation of how someone goes from presumptive nominee to gone. No one knows how members of the Academy voted, but if a group of prognosticators is correct for 19/20, then I’m naturally interested in what made that one prediction incorrect, especially when the stakes are relatively high in this case. What accounts for it? What blind spot did the prognosticators have? Was it just that The Revenant was a late bloomer? Did Idris fall out of favor? Both? Maybe DP has a theory.

  67. palmtree says:

    Just to see if I was barking up the wrong tree, I checked the 2015 nominees against the Gurus…same thing.

    17/20 predictions correct. 3 wrong.

    Two of them were in the female categories and in both cases it was the 5th nominee trailing by a wide margin who got replaced in the actual nominations.

    The third one is David Oyelowo, who is very solidly 4th in the Best Actor category. He’s replaced by Steve Carrell, who isn’t trailing as much as Tom Hardy was, but still. Interesting that two years in a row makes it less of an anomaly and more of a pattern, wouldn’t you say? Any theories?

  68. YancySkancy says:

    palmtree: It may not have been the answer you were looking for, but it was a sincere one. No snark intended. I just misunderstood what you were getting at.

    I’m not sure how to get an answer without polling the voters or something though. There’s nothing scientific about the way prognosticators make their choices, but I think in general they have a good track record simply because the Academy’s tastes and the the way the studios’ cater to them are predictable. As the season wears on, films gain or lose traction until a core group of likely nominees shake loose. But beyond a few “locks” there are always more viable contenders than there are slots.

    But trying to determine whether there’s a pattern seems like a fool’s errand to me, because these people vote individually on private ballots. Occasionally you’ll see an article with anonymous voter interviews in which they explain their choices to win, but it usually boils down to “I preferred this performance to these other ones.” I don’t think I’ve ever seen interviews where Academy members discuss their nomination ballots and why they included or excluded certain contenders. That might be interesting, but probably wouldn’t yield anything revelatory, such as “I ultimately decided not to vote for David Oyelowo because he’s black.”

  69. Mike says:

    I can’t speak for the others, but I assumed the Beast of No Nations lack of nominations was more of a Netflix thing than a black thing. A new company, who has ticked off the movie studios in the past, trying to mount its first successful campaign for a little-seen film.

  70. Nick Rogers says:

    Albeit in a lower-profile category, Netflix did snag two of the five Best Documentary slots (Winter on Fire, Miss Simone). I’m not sure it’s an exclude-black-actors thing, but I’m also not sure it’s an anti-Netflix thing.

  71. Stella's Boy says:

    “Oscar Voters: 94% White, 76% Men, and an Average of 63 Years Old.”

    When I see that, I just find it incredibly hard to believe that bias is not real and can’t fathom how anyone else could find it hard to believe. Of course I can’t prove it, and of course not all of those old white males are racist, but looking at those figures, it’s impossible for bias not to exist and be a real factor. I’m sure every single one would swear up and down that there’s not a biased bone in their body, but that just isn’t reality. I mean Donald Trump says he loves Muslims and has tons of Muslim friends.

    And while most of Hollywood votes Democrat, is the industry itself really as liberal as people think? Seems to me it isn’t. Money above all, power a close second. That’s what studios and executives care about. Even Spike says his issue isn’t with the Academy Awards, it’s with the studios and executives and the movies they make and the people who are cast in them. I have absolutely no doubt the bias is real and not limited to a handful of voters (a few bad apples), but the bigger problem is the movies being made and how they are cast. It just doesn’t square with America today.

  72. amblinman says:

    So here’s why the Oscar thing is interesting to me as someone who has never, will never have a shred of respect for The Academy. They’re suddenly promising “big changes” going forward. Well, how so? Either they believe they’re nominating the very best or they don’t. How do you suddenly “force” votes for certain nominees if the process and voting is all about celebrating on merit?

    It’s all bullshit. The Awards have forever been bullshit, and as a film nerd/dork/whatever I’ve never given a tiny shit about who wins. I hope this whole issue wrecks the entire venture.

  73. Mike says:

    Nick, it seems to me that it would be a lot easier to get a doc nomination than a best actor/best picture/best director nomination, and they’ve never had any, nor launched a campaign for one before (I believe).

    I’m not saying there is an anti-Netflix thing, it just seems to me that there might be more than one explanation for Elba’s lack of a nomination than just that he is a black actor.

  74. Mike says:

    While I think there’s an argument to be made for bias, I have a hard time reconciling it when I think about it outside of just this year. In one year, they gave best picture to 12 Years a Slave, best director to a hispanic man, and gave best supporting actress to a black woman.

    To use Stella’s Boy’s analogy, that would be like Trump naming a hispanic V.P. and marrying a black wife.

    So, what changed? Is it that bias only affects the potential nominees who are on the bubble anyway? Or are the Gurus and other buzzers biased, too?

  75. leahnz says:

    or the actor’s branch (in particular, by far the largest voting block) is a bit racist

    i mean really. there’s a lot of rationalising away (by mostly white people it seems) and excuses going on, one can say “well yeah i accept that bias might exist in the viewing/voting process but you can’t prove it so i’m not convinced!” “there’s just not enough people who aren’t white making/in movies for nominations (i did the math, for instance from 1950 onward in the lead and supporting actor/tress categories, out of 1300 total oscar nominations blacks/hispanics/asians account for about 6% of all noms); or the old chestnut “the non-white/women movies just aren’t good enough” when the academy consistently nominates thoroughly middling, average movies/perfs by white people, making this the silliest reasoning of all.
    the ‘prove it’ stance is always convenient when looking at bias and fields involving a degree of subjectivity, but as the blind auditions for orchestral musicians showed, and research bears out time and time again, gender bias/sexism and racial bias/racism is a proven phenomenon across the board and not some ephemeral theory that might or might not exist. it’s always there, a factor, whether straight white dudes like to admit it or not.
    and when you look at who/what gets nominated for oscars, there’s a long, clear pattern of white preference and exclusion. there are so many examples it boggles the mind but one of the best i think is what my friend calls the Ang Lee effect (same one who coined the Granick effect, also an oscar voter as it happens): three big multi-oscar nominated films in all the main categories including best pic and best director for ang lee in ‘crouching tiger’, ‘brokeback’ and ‘life of pi’. yet two of these multiple-nominee movies have a grand total of ZERO acting nominations between them in spite of some fine lead and sup performances/roles, and one of them has 3 acting nominations in two lead and one supporting role. i wonder what the difference could be for the acting branch in judging what’s worthy.

    the academy likes to fancy itself ‘prestige’, the big one in the industry, and yet its idea of prestige is exclusionary, and that’s not prestigious, it’s classless.
    i don’t know what the ‘insight’ of oscar prognosticators has anything to do with it – funny how they are also mostly a bunch of white dudes arguing amongst themselves in a self-perpetuating bubble of BS – but looking at the other industry awards and major critic awards this year idris/beasts, SOC and ‘creed’ for instance have made a showing with several nominations, there has been ‘buzz’ around these movies/perfs, and decent box office for SOC and creed to boot, so it’s the academy membership specifically with a white-out. all this stupid ‘narrative’ crap and the disgusting dog-n-pony campaigning and big $ required to have a shot at a nomination NEEDS TO DIE, it’s a disgrace to have to campaign for an award for supposed artistic/technical excellence. if the oscars want to be prestigious then be it, it’s always been a silly popularity contest but right now it’s a fucking sham. for a start make it a requirement that you actually have to watch all the applicable movies in order to vote, half the problem solved right there.

  76. Stella's Boy says:

    I don’t know that those few examples are definitive proof of a lack of bias. Just as I can’t definitively prove that bias is a real and major problem. Do you agree with Spike that the bigger issue is the studios and executives and the movies being made and the people being cast in them?

  77. leahnz says:

    also re above, could people please stop trotting out ’12 years’ like that one movie – heavily campaigned for by white people (such as pitt) with significant white roles that were ALSO nominated in a movie about slavery, a box in which the academy is comfortable seeing black people, means there’s no racial bias in the academy, for fucks sake

  78. Mike says:

    “Do you agree with Spike that the bigger issue is the studios and executives and the movies being made and the people being cast in them?”

    Absolutely. If Creed and Straight Out of Compton’s success at the box office can lead to more movies with diversity in front of and behind the camera, I think that’s better than an Oscar nod.

    In many ways, I think the most amazing thing is Coogler doing a Marvel movie. I hope it leads to diverse directors having shots at bigger tentpoles that aren’t based only on a black superhero. If Coogler gets to do Captain America or Batman or Star Wars, then that’s an even better development. And if they’ll do the Spiderman with the hispanic character taking over for Peter Parker, all the better.

  79. leahnz says:

    it’s always illuminating when white guys think “there’s an argument to be made for bias” like they’re just not quire sure such a thing actually exists but an academic argument could be made for it for shits and giggles

    and also, because this is so irritating, diversity for the boys is so nice, isn’t it?

  80. Monco says:

    Since leah is the biggest NWA fan here are some sample lyrics:

    She was the perfect ho’ but what do you know
    the bitch tried to gag me
    so – I had to kill her
    Yeah, straight hittin’
    Now listen up and lemme tell you how I did it
    yo, I tied her to the bed
    I was thinking the worst but yo I had to let my n***** fuck her first yeah

    Or how about this:

    I once knew a bitch who got slapped
    Cause she played me like she was all that
    A bitch can be your best friend talking behind your back
    About who’s fucking who and who’s getting fat
    Look at yourself for me
    Now do you fall in this category?

    Now how can a radical feminist support this type of music? Is it really so hard to believe that the Academy would not nominate a film that glorifies a group that promotes violence and misogyny in their lyrics?

  81. palmtree says:

    The Ang Lee Effect is fascinating (particularly for the way it seems to affect East Asian or South Asian actors).

    Let’s look at THE LAST EMPEROR, which starred a largely Asian or Asian American cast except for Peter O’Toole. It swept the Oscars in 1988 with 9 Nominations and 9 Wins including Best Picture! Guess how many of those were for acting? None. Zero. Big shock, I know.

    Let’s look at SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, which starred an entirely Indian cast. It nearly swept the Oscars in 2009 with 10 Nominations and 8 Wins including Best Picture! Guess how many of those were for acting? No nominations at all. None.

    Again, I ask that if this were a single case, you could argue against a bias. If it were two cases, maybe you could argue against bias. But if it happens again and again and again and again, how do you maintain this view? Is there something else that allows you to think this way?

  82. Stella's Boy says:

    So the Academy was taking a moral stand by not voting for Straight Outta Compton? Have they never ever voted for a film that glorified something unsavory?

  83. YancySkancy says:

    My problem is not that it’s impossible to believe that bias is a factor in the nominations; it’s that so many people seem to think it’s the only factor, or at least the primary one. Especially since we’re talking about an awards competition that theoretically involves forming subjective opinions about art. We can blather all day about what we think is going on (at least I can, obviously), but at the end of the day it’s guesswork, regardless of this study or that stat. The actors branch is only about 1,200 people, and there are undoubtedly several performances each year that miss a nomination by only a handful of votes (depending on the total number of ballots cast, you only need about 200 votes to get nominated!).

    In some ways, a large part of this discussion has been made moot by Cheryl Boone Isaac’s announcement of the Academy’s new diversity initiative. There was exactly one thing the Academy could do that has a shot of fostering diversity in the nomination process, and that was it. The rest is up to the studios. So really, the boycott should be called off, but I have it feeling it won’t be.

  84. YancySkancy says:

    “it’s always illuminating when white guys think “there’s an argument to be made for bias” like they’re just not quire sure such a thing actually exists but an academic argument could be made for it for shits and giggles”

    I can’t speak for other white boys, but this one simply isn’t comfortable pretending that he knows that one factor is the cause of something when he sees other contributing factors and has limited means for sussing out the objective truth. I’m sorry that “there’s an argument to be made for bias” isn’t a radical enough position for you, but I’m not going to confidently stand up and proclaim that “bias is definitely the reason” when I’m just guessing, in part based on facts not in evidence.

    You may take the moral high ground, leah, but we’re all just reading tea leaves here. Bottom line is, I give the majority of the Academy membership the benefit of the doubt when it comes to racial bias, and you don’t. We’re both looking at the same facts and opinions, but making different assumptions about what they may mean.

  85. Stella's Boy says:

    There’s a difference between “bias is the one and only reason” and “bias is real and a factor.” I don’t think anyone claimed bias is the one and only reason. Not that I recall anyway.

  86. palmtree says:

    So supporting a movie about an important musical group means you condone all the lyrics that that group ever wrote? I thought they were nominating it based on the work of the filmmakers, but what do i know.

    And by the way, Wolf of Wall Street glorifies some pretty horrible behaviors too. But somehow the Academy still managed to overcome their moral indignation and nominate it.

  87. Stella's Boy says:

    Good point palmtree. I was trying to think of a recent example and that sure qualifies. I found that movie to glorify pretty repugnant behavior.

  88. Bulldog68 says:

    Didn’t know the Academy was voting based on moral values either. Wolf is certainly a great example. No Country for Old Men and Silence of the Lambs are certainly others in my book. Films that had you rooting for the bad guy or at least marveling at their murderous competence. What’s morally uplifting about that? Does the fact that they won Best Picture mean that the Academy condones murder?

  89. YancySkancy says:

    Stella’s Boy: “I don’t think anyone claimed bias is the one and only reason. Not that I recall anyway.”

    All I know is I feel like I’ve repeatedly admitted that bias is real and a factor, but that “a” seems too lukewarm a sentiment for leah. Maybe I overstated by saying “one and only reason,” but it sure feels that way sometimes when trying to keep all this back and forth straight.

  90. brack says:

    “No matter how you feel about the song, it’s used really well in the movie. And that’s what they’re basing the nomination on.”

    Yeah, I know it’s a dude’s version of “My Heart Will Go On.” Still an awfully hokey song, and was solely written to capitalize on, oh, I mean give tribute (ha) to Paul Walker’s death.

  91. palmtree says:

    LOL, brack.

  92. leahnz says:

    palmtree so glad you brought up ‘last emperor’ and ‘slumdog’, great examples of the ‘Ang Lee Effect’ (haha so dorky), i ran out of gumption to give further examples. films made by/about people who aren’t caucasian come in a variety of racial/cultural flavours and terrific performances but they are not celebrated the same way unfortunately

    re SOC, i like to think people are capable of assessing movies on multiple levels; i certainly have a problem with the misogyny in NWA’s lyrics and found the lack of examining the issue in any meaningful way in the film quite disappointing, but i can look beyond this aspect at what the film as a whole does achieve in terms of the film-making, performance, capturing the zeitgeist of the time and place, social commentary on the power of music and the culture of police brutality, and how these themes still resonate/speak to viewers today. because something is flawed doesn’t mean it can’t also have value.

    (jts i find the term ‘radical feminist’ quite nonsensical and inane. it’s like, “so you’re an advocate for social, cultural and economic equality for women as half of civilisation, for the voices of girls and women and their points of view and life experience to be equally heard, valid and considered in all things, bodily autonomy, equal opportunity, equal protection, equal dominion over and equitable division of our resources, equal decision-making effecting all the human race and all of our planet so that we may build a better future for our children and all people in lifting up the human race”. no, you’re a ‘radical’ equality-insister! yeah this actually isn’t a thing by the very nature of equality. i find that people who use this term a) do so to disparage feminism (which also hugely benefits men in so many important ways in a culture wherein the socialisation of men and their gender roles are often narrow, constricting and shaming of men’s natural variations and individuality to fit them into a certain box), and b) often don’t actually believe in social, cultural and economic equality for women)

    yancy clearly there are multiple factors in how the nominations play out and i thought i’ve been pretty obnoxious about what i consider other huge problems with the nomination/voting process in the campaigning and money required in awarding artistic/technical achievement (which is just shameful and i don’t at all understand why there isn’t a much bigger outcry about this), and the need for academy members to act like responsible judges and watch the actual movies they vote on rather than whatever ‘screeners’ happen to be conveniently spoonfed to them like a bunch of big babies. i feel like you’re repeatedly saying you get that racial bias is a factor but then diminish it by saying we really don’t know and analytical rationalising away of bias as a major factor. but hey i think this is a good conversation to have and lots of good points have been made here. i’ve given you a bit of a hard time but i always appreciate you as a genuinely thoughtful and interested commenter so hopefully no hard feelings or anything, NBD at least on my end, blog life.

  93. YancySkancy says:

    Ditto, leah, and I’m glad to hear that you were able to appreciate Straight Outta Compton. Any tips on how you suppressed your unconscious bias? And when you say “i like to think people are capable of assessing movies on multiple levels,” does that include white males too? 🙂 Sorry, I couldn’t resist. As you say, NBD; I just like chewing on these things. Helps me clarify my own thoughts, even if everyone else is rolling their eyes.

  94. brack says:

    If it makes you feel any better Yancy, I think your points are pretty level-headed and you are one of the least presumptuous posters here. And to answer your question, every single white male is a bigot; it’s in our DNA apparently. It’s ironic something that is a glorified popularity contest is such a big deal, as if this one Oscar season is the bane of society. I almost think the Academy did it on purpose just to call attention to itself. I love first world problems.

  95. Triple Option says:

    palmtree wrote: There could be a ton of different reasons for this, but I’m curious what they are when literally his nomination would have easily saved the Academy the embarrassment of Oscars So White part deux.”

    No, it wouldn’t have. One out of 20 would appease or disprove a claim of racial bias in Oscar voting and how Hollywood operates?

    re: The Last Emperor & Slumdog Millionaire, palmtree wrote: Again, I ask that if this were a single case, you could argue against a bias. If it were two cases, maybe you could argue against bias. But if it happens again and again and again and again, how do you maintain this view? Is there something else that allows you to think this way?”

    You do realize those movies you cited happened 21 years apart? Twenty-one! It’s quite possible 2 people saw this movie on date night, went home, had sex, conceived a kid, raised the kid and then had to wait until the kid was drinking age before the could celebrate such a historic night again. But that type of film cleaning up at the Oscars supposedly happens again and again and again?

    As far as Slumdog Millionaire goes, how many of its Oscars went to Indians? Producer? No. Director? No. Any talent in front of the camera? Uhhhh Writer? Nope. Editor? Is this a trick question? “Boy, those song and dance numbers were really impressive!” So, there, an award for something Hollywood is comfortable in seeing, a brown person singing and dancing!

    I was about to admit to being a bit tongue in cheek about that last part but then, I found the strangest thing, a coincidence, I’m sure, but the only Asians to walk out with hardware for The Last Emperor happened to be for Best Music.

    Apparently it’s me who’s not sure what your line of thinking is. Black people should be happy that 12 Years a Slave won some Oscars a couple of years ago and that proves everything is alright? That the Box Office Gurus were betting, well, they said that Idris Elba was probably going to get nominated and so people of color figure prominently in the minds of Academy voters? Honestly, I’m at a loss, because most of what you’ve written seems to disprove the very point you’re trying to make.

    Black people aren’t boo hooing Will Smith not getting nominated. Well, besides Jada. There’s not some quota of nominees that they’re looking to meet. The Oscars can be a litmus test to the state of Hollywood. People of Color have known they’ve been overlooked long before a hashtag came out. What is the explanation why more people of color aren’t cast in films? Are they not good enough as actors? Do they not represent a large enough percentage of the movie going public to warrant inclusion? Does the establishment of Hollywood even recognize there’s a problem? This issue certainly isn’t going to go away by people going into hyper denial mode the moment a complaint is made.

    “Come sing and dance and make us laugh and hand out awards to the people we actually respect.” But be sure to refute that by bringing up films that happened over a quarter of a century ago.

  96. Hallick says:

    Sadly, no real cultural shifts happen in any industry until the old guard retires or dies away because the vast majority of human beings are just incapable of having a change of heart after adulthood sets in. Oscar nominations are still going to be disappointing/enraging for people for many years to come no matter how many hashtags the protesters come up with because it takes forever for youth and diversity to seep their way into the process.

  97. Stella's Boy says:

    brack I don’t think many filmmakers and actors/actresses of color view it that way. DP acts so exasperated by the discussion, and sure not all of it is constructive, and sure the media will do what they do and go overboard and hyperventilate with their coverage, but it’s a discussion worth having. As Yancy says, it’s worth chewing on these things. The discussion here has been pretty interesting and adult, and I’ve really enjoyed it and everyone’s contributions.

  98. palmtree says:

    Seriously, Triple Option, it helps understand the points people make when you read them in context. But if you must know…

    “But that type of film cleaning up at the Oscars supposedly happens again and again and again?”

    You somehow turned my point into its opposite. My point is that East and South Asian actors are typically SHUT OUT of the acting nominations, even in films that are well-received and clean up. And this is an example of what seems like unfair bias against Asian actors. And there are four movies (two directed by Ang Lee hence the “Ang Lee Effect”) which are particularly huge examples of this. Now do you get it?

    I was giving more examples of this phenomenon to bolster a point Leah was making.

    “Black people should be happy that 12 Years a Slave won some Oscars a couple of years ago and that proves everything is alright?”

    No, that’s the exact opposite of what I’m saying. Sorry that I was so unclear.

  99. Bulldog68 says:

    I apologize in advance for the length of this rant.

    You gotta admit that it seems like that it is both humorous and sad that the Academy seemed to have gone out of it’s way to not nominate non-white actors this year. Creed, only nominee, white. Compton, only nominees, four white writers.

    I didn’t like Chris Rock’s first turn as host, but I do hope he gives it a lot of attention, not just for black actors, but for all minorities. There are so many movies with all lily white casts that would benefit from having more diversity.

    Say what you will about Fast & Furious, but that series wears its diversity well and it flies in the face of the oft held belief that diversity doesn’t sell well overseas.

    Couldn’t Lord of the Rings have some color? It’s Middle Earth for fuck sake. Couldn’t there have been a black or asian group of people, or even Hobbits or armies of all races? It’s like that stupid boycott Star Wars movement that thankfully never caught on. They could believe a 3ft puppet that wields a lightsaber, but a black stormtrooper, well that’s just crazy. Sheeesh.

    All that ramble is just to say that Hollywood and definitely the Academy does have a race problem. It’s different from saying that they are racist, but their perspective seems to be to reward actors of color for playing characters of color as opposed to just playing characters. Just check the list of wins and nominations to black actors to see my point. Mostly major black figures or black archetypes that fit the general consensus of the “black” experience. It’s ironic that Selma won for Music, got a Best Picture nod, and three of the four producers where white, with the only black nominee being Oprah Winfrey. No Director, no Actor.

    But I also will agree that the roles also need to be there. Would love to see more movies like No Good Deed being made. Not that it was particularly good, but because it had nothing to do with being black. It could have been any two actors in those parts.

    Hollywood, supposedly the bastion of liberal values, proves that it really isn’t.

  100. brack says:

    It is worth discussing, but it’s almost a circle jerk at this point. The media has a short memory, as if no one of color being nominated is mortifying, but over the past 15 years there’s been more Oscar winners of color than ever before. This year is just probably an outlier. I don’t think it’s some conspiracy, or some sort of white agenda.

  101. brack says:

    And let’s go even further than race; let’s talk about the types of movies that get nominated. When was the last time a film got nominated that was a comedy? What about comedic performances? There’s more to discuss than race when it comes to the Academy. Your best bet at having a comedy win something is you make it animated, for the Best Animated Picture category. That’s just one genre, but there are many others. Wait, what am I saying, according to the Golden Globes, The Martian was a comedy, and Matt Damon was the best actor in a comedy.

  102. js partisan says:

    Brack: never grasping that white privilege.

  103. brack says:

    js partisan: never grasping, well, anything.

  104. Triple Option says:

    My bad, palmtree. I thought had kept up w/every post but must have missed some. Excuse the post.

  105. PcChongor says:

    Here’s an article about children in Africa being forced to mine for minerals that are then used to make most consumer electronic products:

    Wait, did I just post that? Sorry, I meant to say that Rocky 7 not getting enough nominations at the Oscars is literally our generation’s version of the Holocaust.

  106. palmtree says:

    I figured you had good intentions, Triple. Peace.

  107. YancySkancy says:

    Bulldog68: The irony you mention is clear enough, but are we really to think that the Academy found it easier to support Selma for Best Picture rather than Actor or Director because that way they could honor three white producers?

    If I understand the complicated nomination process, it’s actually rather heartening that Selma got into the Best Picture race. For one thing, the entire membership nominates that category, and you have to get votes on a certain percentage of total ballots cast to make the cut. It was one of only eight to make it, though the rules allow for ten when the math works out. This suggests a level of broad support among the full membership, even if the acting and directing branches didn’t give Oyelowo and Du Vernay enough top-tier votes to get them on the final ballot. The actors branch has only about 1,200 members, and the directors branch is less than 400, I think, so beating up all 6,000+ members for the supposed problem doesn’t seem quite right to me.

  108. Stella's Boy says:

    That’s a really good point PcChongor. From the very beginning I have said that what this blog really needs is far more talk about child slavery and far less talk about movies.

  109. PcChongor says:

    None of this talk is about movies though. It’s the same kind of righteous blabbering about injustice in Hollywood that gets rolled out every year during awards season.

    Yes, Hollywood is full of bias and people tend to vote for those who are most like them, but on the grand scale of things that are totally worth hundreds of paragraphs bitching about, Oscar nominations are probably number 5,256 on the list, just below “someone using your armrest on an airplane” and way above pretty much everything else. Either put your indignation to much better use in the world, or don’t let these sort of things bother you at all. Anything else is just being willfully naïve or arguing for the sake of arguing.

  110. Stella's Boy says:

    This is an Oscars BYOB. Of course people are talking about the Oscars and this year’s nominations.

    OK point taken. I’m heading off to fight racial injustice right now so that discussing the lack of diversity among the nominees meets your criteria for a legitimate discussion worth having.

  111. PcChongor says:

    People are talking about being pissed at the Oscars. My point is, there’s far more other things to be legitimately pissed at before this. I don’t really care who or what the Oscars nominate since they tend to have awful taste historically, but if you genuinely feel passionate about this, you’d probably be much better served as a human being directing that passion towards more pressing issues that receive far less attention because they aren’t tangentially related to juicy celeb gossip.

    It’s perfectly fine to care more about Will Smith not getting an Oscar than Flint, Michigan’s tainted water supply, but it does kind of make you look like a dick.

  112. Stella's Boy says:

    I don’t get your line of thinking at all. Of course I care about Flint more than Will Smith not getting a nomination. Human beings are perfectly capable of caring about more than one thing at a time. One of the things I care about is movies, and the Oscars are a big part of that. The Hot Blog is a place to discuss movies. I go elsewhere to discuss Flint and the 2016 election and the NFL Conference Championship games and gun control and music and all of the other things that I care about.

    And telling people you don’t know how they can be a better person? What were you saying about looking like a dick? Take it down a notch or two please.

  113. PcChongor says:

    Commenting for the sake of commenting is fine, just don’t confuse it with actually wanting to help solve an issue, which tends to be the line of thinking that keeps most of these things perpetually unresolved and relegated to the realm of anonymous internet bickering. Anyway, carry on. I’ll chime back in once Universal inevitably fumbles the release of “Hail, Caesar!”

  114. brack says:

    I think PcChonger is simply saying this Oscar stuff is very much a first world problem, and talking about the injustices of people who have already made it, but didn’t get a nomation, and making such a big fuss about talking about white privilege, does nothing to change the system. Making a petition for people to sign and submitting it to the Academy will have a better chance at change than bickering about it on a blog.

  115. Stella's Boy says:

    I understand what he’s saying. I just think it’s foolish. I never said the Oscar nominations are a great injustice and more important than children being poisoned in Flint. This is a movie blog. This is a place to discuss the Oscars. Why wouldn’t we talk about the nominations?

  116. Bulldog68 says:

    I get what you’re saying Yancy, and I do know that different branches vote for different categories. It just appears that white actors get over that hump much more easily to the nomination.

    The darn thing is that this is all subjective and while almost everyone agrees that there are things that need to be addressed and fixed, this boycott will serve what purpose?

    As a black man I am disappointed that diversity is seriously lacking for two years in a row now. But what happens next year? If out of the 20 acting noms you get 5 minorities, was that deserved, or just avoiding another media shit storm? I’m not boycotting. I’m defined by more than being black. I didn’t like that Charlize Theron nor Benecio Del Toro, nor Micheal Shannon nor Jason Mitchell from Compton were nominated. Particularly Mitchell did a lot of heavy lifting in that movie. I’m over the moon that Mad Max is getting so much love because that and Revenant were most likely my top 2 movies of the year, and I haven’t seen Concussion, but Leonardo gave a hell of a performance. People were not really talking about Hardy in Revenant, but I was. And I’m really glad Mark Rylance got notice too.

    So I’ll be watching. Conscious of the fact that a lot needs to be changed and improved. Glad that this discussion is taking place. And for those who who argue that these discussions don’t change things, how do you know that? How do you know that when the sum total of all these discussions are added up that it won’t. Maybe not immediately, but social media didn’t really exist before Hattie McDaniel got her Oscar, but you can bet there was discussion. And if you think this only helps people who are already better off, you’re wrong, it doesn’t only help the Will Smiths and Denzels. It also helps the Lupita Nyongos and Gabourey Sidibes and every other actor that’s a visible minority that you’ve never heard of before they were nominated. And yeah, I still say that Micheal Pena deserved a nom for End of Watch.

  117. YancySkancy says:

    This particular discussion may not change things, but I’m sure it was the general uptick in discussion on the topic in the wake of Spike and Jada’s statements that motivated Cheryl Boone Isaacs to take action on Academy diversity going forward.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

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