Oscar diversity marred by controversy

2017-01-29 11:57

Johannesburg - After blistering criticism last year for being a whitewashed affair, this year’s Oscar nominations are showing a pleasing amount of diversity. However, the nominations of Mel Gibson and Casey Affleck are mired in controversy, as both men are documented sexual predators.

So, though its recognition of younger, black film makers is a cause for celebration, the inclusion of these men in the time of new President Donald Trump is a blow for women’s rights merely days after a civil rights march led by women.

Hollywood learns that there is a broader audience available

On the diversity front the nominations of films such as the heartbreaking Moonlight – a film that tells the story of a young, gay man growing up in one of Miami’s poorest and most drug-riddled communities with an addict for a mother and a drug dealer for a protector – and the inspiring Hidden Figures – about the African-American women who wrote the code that helped map John Glenn’s space visit – are great news.

Hidden Figures is also good news for films that feature all-female casts – as Hollywood learns that there is a broader audience available, one that wants to see stories about people like them, not told through the male gaze.

It is also the first time in history a black actor is nominated in all four of the big acting categories: Ruth Negga for best actress for Loving, Viola Davis for best supporting actress for Fences, Denzel Washington for best actor for Fences, and Mahershala Ali for Moonlight and Dev Patel for Lion in the best supporting actor category.

Also, Davis’ nomination is her third in the category (Doubt in 2008 and The Help in 2011) and with it she makes history – becoming the first black actress to get three nominations. Having won the Golden Globe this year, she’s bookies’ favourite to take the Oscar too.

The Academy needs to be clear on what it stands for

Affleck gives a masterful performance in Manchester by the Sea and Gibson’s work on Hacksaw Ridge is brilliant.

But Affleck has settled two sexual harassment cases out of court and Gibson has a conviction for assault after hitting his ex-wife Oksana Grigorieva.

With bigotry on the rise worldwide – and women’s rights in peril – the Academy needs to be clear on what it stands for.

These nominations erode any moral high ground gained by the Oscars’ more inclusive list. – Gayle Edmunds

City Press, in association with Times Media Films and Africa Teen Geeks, is hosting a preview of Hidden Figures in Johannesburg at Rosebank, Durban at Gateway and at Cavendish Square in Cape Town on 19 February at noon.

City Press will be giving away 10 double tickets to attend in each city. To stand a chance to win tickets, SMS the keyword MOVIE your name and surname and the answer to the question below to 34217. Also tell us in which city you’d like to attend the screening. SMS costs R1.50.

Competition Question:

Which film starring Taraj P. Henson has been nominated for a best picture Oscar this year?

Read more on:    oscars 2017  |  movies

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