Curious and terrible things have happened to the Oscars since the turn of the century. We are no longer assured that acting awards are dispensed for the pure art of acting. More often, they are given to actors who’ve taken on specific roles that the Hollywood establishment deems to be appropriate for society. And now, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has levied draconian, hiring-related quotas on which films may be deemed “Oscar-worthy.”
Acting awards today, in particular, are often 'social justice' acting awards. If an actor portrays someone who has victim' status, the probability of that actor winning the Oscar, among the other nominees, is notably higher. Of late, the preponderance of acting awards to African Americans, to those who have portrayed gay people, and to those who have portrayed others deemed to be disadvantaged, is a matter of record.
Oscars so White?
For movies released from 2001 to 2018, as leading or supporting actors, African-American men were nominated a total of 21 times, with nine taking home the Oscar. As leading or supporting actresses, since 2001, African-American women were nominated 25 times with seven taking home the Oscar. That's a total of 46 nominations and 16 Oscars, in 18 years, out of a total of 360 acting nominations and 72 Oscar Awards.
African Americans thus garnered nearly 13 percent of all possible acting nominations and 22 percent of all possible acting awards in the early years of this century. Moreover, 16 Oscars won from 46 nominations is nothing short of astounding, as 34.7 percent of the time an African American actor has been nominated, he or she has won. Not bad for a group representing only 12 percent of the U.S. population and easily outflanking awards to Hispanics, who represent 18 percent of the population, and Asians, who represent 5 percent of the population.
The typical Oscar nominee has only a one in five chance (20 percent) of winning. From 2001 to 2019, African Americans were awarded Oscars at a rate that is 73 percent higher than a random Oscar nominee. “Oscars so black?” Of late, African Americans have also been better represented in the non-acting categories, as have other minorities.
A favorable number of African Americans had already received Oscar nominations for the first 14 years of this century and resulting awards. Yet, in 2015 “liberal Hollywood” was called out for being “so white,” a bogus claim certainly when it came to acting. The left traffics in white guilt and employs it whenever possible. The “Social Justice Oscar path” in reality has been in place for decades and the two years leading to the “so white” campaign were anomalies.
Mastery or Diversity?
The 2019 Oscars, awarded for the 2018 movie year, was remarkable for rewarding actors who had played ‘politically correct’ roles. Egyptian Rami Malek won for best male actor for his portrayal of the bisexual, but ultimately gay, Freddie Mercury. The best male supporting actor was awarded to Mahershala Ali, of the Muslim faith, for portraying the decidedly gay Dr. Bart Shirley, a concert pianist. Mr. Ali won for the second time in three years.
The best female actor was given to Olivia Colman from the U.K. who portrayed a lesbian Queen Anne of England, gaining the nod over what had appeared to be the clear favorite. The clear favorite was Glenn Close, a seven-time nominee, who merely played a heterosexual wife. The award for the best supporting female actor went to African-American Regina Jones, who did a credible job in the movie If Beale Street Could Talk.
Politically incorrect: left out of the Oscar nomination process altogether was Ethan Hawke, who portrayed a mid-40s white male pastor in First Reformed. Despite being awarded best actor by the National Society of Film Critics Award, New York Film Critics Circle, New York Film Critics Online, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and 11 other film societies, he was completely ignored by the Academy.
In 2020, acting awards, amazingly, went to four Caucasians: Joaquin Phoenix for playing ‘The Joker,’ Brad Pitt for playing a stuntman, Renee Zellweger for playing Judy Garland, and Laura Dern for playing a psychologist. Clearly, the American movie industry needs to be punished for these slights to minorities everywhere.
To be sure, all of the 2019 and 2020 Oscar winners plied their craft with merit. However, one does notice: The left has infected Hollywood and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, as it irrevocably infects everything in its path: the arts in general, journalism, city and state governance, immigration, science, public and private universities, elementary and secondary education, race relations, public radio, network television, cable television, public television, the judicial process, beauty pageants, major league sports, college sports, and free speech itself.
With increasing frequency, due to the Academy being dominated by leftists, acting awards and best picture Oscars will mean less and less. The award process already is so infused with the erroneous notion of ‘social justice’ that, going forward, a brilliant performance by a Caucasian male or female portraying a heterosexual character will have decreasing chances. And, a brilliant movie, without minority quotas, will not be nominated.
Despite being an American cultural fixture since the first Oscars were handed out in 1929, it’s sunset boulevard for Hollywood.