Make the other main Oscar categories 8-10 nominees and help end the controversy

Make the other main Oscar categories 8-10 nominees and help end the controversy

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Eric Close started this petition to Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Two years ago, the Recording Academy started giving out 8 nominations for their 4 main categories at the Grammy Awards.  This was done in response to the negative reactions towards many consecutive years of wins in these categories by more familiar, radio-friendly pop artists, normally to the detriment of other rap and R&B artists (predominantly African-American) who had put out more critically acclaimed and relevant work the year before.

Of course, the issue with the Grammys was (almost) never the nominations, but the ones who ultimately won, so the problem still persists.  For the Academy Awards, however, this solution would speak directly to their current controversies, which ARE in regards to their annual nominations.

In 2014 and 2015, the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite began trending due to a complete lack of minority nominees among their acting categories.  While the Academy did their best to address this problem over the next few years, this year’s nominees seem to suggest the issue is still very much a concern.

For starters, at least 3 excellent films helmed by female directors this year (one of whom was also Asian) held early hopes for Oscar recognition.  While Little Women managed to achieve 6 nominations, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood received only 1 in the acting categories, and the Chinese-American film The Farewell - which would have provided strong Academy representation for both Asian and female voters and audiences - was shut out completely.  And once again, the Best Director race resulted in an entirely all-male lineup.  Similarly, the 4 acting categories started the awards season with at least 1 strong contender for nominations, some of which were even considered heavy frontrunners - i.e. Jennifer Lopez in Hustlers and Awkwafina in The Farewell.  Alas, of the eventual 20 nominees, there was a single nomination for an African-American, so the wealth of Asian representation the year started out with was ignored completely by the Academy.

While I cannot and do not debate the talent and deservingness of the directors, actors and writers who did eventually land nominations (in some cases, I even agree with the final lineup), my point is that the Academy’s main problem has always been with gender and racial diversity among its nominations.  The point about lack of opportunities for female and minority filmmakers has been heard loud and clear by Hollywood and abroad, but for every Spike Lee or Greta Gerwig that releases a quality film each year, there will always be another 5 or 10 Martin Scorsese’s or Quentin Tarantino’s.  And no matter how diverse the Academy makes their committees, 5 nominations just isn’t enough to truly represent the wealth of female and ethnic representation in the film industry each year.  Someone is always going to get left out in the cold.

So I‘m petitioning that the Academy extend the same nomination voting process granted to the Best Picture race to those of the other main races at the Oscars - i.e. Best Director, Best Actor/Actress, Best Supporting Actor/Actress, and Best Original/Adapted Screenplay.  This will drastically decrease the likelihood of any one category being “so white” or “so male” again and, frankly, doing so will do nothing to lower the merits of such a recognition, anyways.  After all, no matter how many nominees there are each year, there is (almost) always only 1 winner.  The purpose of the nomination ballots is to show off the wealth of (diverse) talent being displayed by the film industry over the past year.  Is all that talent really being showcased on a ballot of 4 white males and 1 Asian male, or ballots of 19 whites and 1 African-American?  In a year with at least 2 high-profile acclaimed Asian films?  Please.

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