Though “Selma” was recognized Thursday with a best picture nomination, the film’s director was passed over and no actors of color received Oscar nods from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, drawing fire here and abroad.
“This is a list which rewards privileged white males for making films about privileged white males,” The Times of London opined.
Others took to the Twittersphere with the hashtag OscarsSoWhite.
“Selma’s” Ava DuVernay took the high road, celebrating the film’s best picture nod on Twitter, even as others expressed disappointment on her behalf.
“Happy Birthday, Dr. King. An Oscar gift for you,” DuVernay tweeted, adding congratulations and a shoutout to actor David Oyelowo, who portrayed Martin Luther King Jr. in the film, which chronicles the 1965 march for voting rights.
A New York magazine reporter asked Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who is black, whether she believed the Academy had a problem recognizing diversity.
“Not at all. Not at all,” Isaacs was quoted by the magazine as saying shortly after announcing the slate of nominees. “The good news is that the wealth of talent is there, and it’s being discussed.”
The Academy president avoided responding directly to a question about whether she believed the film — which also picked up a nod for its original song, “Glory” — should have gotten more nominations.
“Well, it’s a terrific motion picture … There are a lot of terrific motion pictures, it’s a very competitive time, and there’s a lot of great work that has been done,” Isaacs said.
The film may have suffered for other reasons. Some have criticized its historical accuracy, which may have hurt its chances with Oscar voters.
The civil rights film, along with “American Sniper,” had a Dec. 24 release date, the latest of any of the best picture contenders. Paramount, which distributed “Selma,” chose to send screeners to Oscar voters but not to the guilds, according to Variety.
“Selma’s” screenplay was deemed ineligible for consideration by the Writers Guild of America, along with the scripts for “The Theory of Everything” and almost a dozen other films. The guild rules on eligibility are stricter than the Academy’s.
The Directors Guild of America also failed to nominate DuVernay.
Oprah Winfrey played civil rights activist Annie Lee Cooper in the film and was also one of the movie’s four producers.
— City News Service