Google search “Selma” right now. Thursday morning, the nominations for the most coveted film award in the US, the Oscars, were released. Movie goers and civil rights activists alike are all speaking out about the snubbing of the a movie that tells the story of MLK’s equal rights campaign. The movie was nominated for 2 awards, Best picture and Best Original Song, and that’s it. There was talk that Selma was also snubbed of nominations at the Golden Globes, which happened last weekend, but yesterday, things got real.
“Are Oscar nominations moving in the wrong direction?” was the name of the first article I read yesterday, informing me about the problems people have with its lack of nominations. The New York Times said people are most mad about the fact that all 20 slots for actor performances (Best lead/supporting actor and actress awards) went to white people. Directer Ava DuVerney (also a woman) was nominated for a Golden Globe but not an Oscar. However, Directer Alejandro González Iñárritu, Mexican native film director, was nominated for Birdman.
Personally, I haven’t seen Selma yet (but I’m looking forward to seeing it), so it’s hard for me to judge this specific situation. I can, however give examples of movies by African American filmmakers that I thought should have been recognized and weren’t. Last year, Fruitvale Station (if I decided the Oscars I would have given it best picture last year) was nominated for nothing. However, last year’s best picture was 12 Years a Slave, directed by Steve McQueen (African-American) was a frontrunner for Best Picture and actually won the award.
Breitbart.com recently posted an article about how this isn’t racist. Vox.com said that 12 Years a Slave barely won Best Picture last year, however, the fact that it did win in a stiff competition that could have been won by any of the films nominated last year means that the movie says the importance of that win. It’s also not fair to say it the movie barely won because all that was released since we don’t know how many votes went for what movie. Also, Breitbart says that 10 African-American actors/actresses have been nominated for Oscars over the past 5 years, with 3 winning in their categories.
I’m sure that Selma deserves more nominations. It’s true that as of 2012, 94 percent of the voters are white, and it’s easy to say that this is an act of racism. I do, however, believe that film awards are always going to make people mad (there were other snubs, there always has been snubs and there always will be snubs). The fact that the voters are mostly old, rich and white does raise the point that the Academy has a long way to go, but how long will it take? I can’t answer that, but people need to recognize that it’s very easy to believe there’s a pretty large bias.
I think it’s unfortunate that Selma wasn’t nominated for as many awards as many expected. Part of the problem is that Selma was released very late, and not very many people saw it. There were so many fantastic movies that came out this year; I’m considering this year to be one of my favorite years in film I’ve been alive to appreciate. Every movie/actor/actress/director who was nominated deserved recognition. Unfortunately, Selma got snubbed, but I don’t think it can necessarily be called an act of racism when the movie I thought was going to be the frontrunner in Best Animated Feature, the Lego Movie, was not nominated and also snubbed. I guess I have a very split opinion on the situation, and the topic is very sensitive. Once I see Selma I’ll be able to make the judgement for myself. That being said, the makers of the film should celebrate their nomination for Best Picture, Selma has already won a place as a top 8 movie this year.