After the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced its Oscar nominees in 2016, it faced criticism for a glaring lack of racial diversity. The all-white lineup of nominees in the acting categories prompted the social media trend #OscarsSoWhite and led to a widespread boycott of the prestigious awards ceremony. Progress appeared to have been made this year, with people of color making up almost a third of the total acting nominations. Denzel Washington remains a serious contender for the Best Actor award for his leading role in Fences, while Ruth Negga is in the running for Best Actress with Loving.
While the Academy might have relaxed after avoiding an #OscarsSoWhite resurgence, the push for diversity and adequate representation in Hollywood is an ongoing effort, with some suggesting that it could be time for #OscarsSoMale.
A new report from THR has drawn parallels between last year's "glaring absence of racial diversity" with the lack of female nominations in 2017. This comes just days after millions of people took part in the Women's March, a global protest promoting gender and sexual equality worldwide.
As a precursor to the Oscars, THR puts out a roundtable of contenders for each major awards category. This year, the lack of women in contention for major awards was immediately striking:
Among directors, Mira Nair (Queen of Katwe) was the only woman who had a slim chance of being nominated, even though seven years have passed since Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win a directing Oscar for The Hurt Locker. Among writers, Rebecca Miller (Maggie's Plan) and Schroeder (who co-wrote Hidden Figures with Theodore Melfi) were the only realistic contenders.
Of all these contenders, only Schroeder received a nomination. Mira Nair's snub is, unfortunately, unsurprising. The award for Best Director is historically one of the toughest categories for women. In the ceremony's 89 years, only four women have been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Directing, and several female directors were notably snubbed from the running in 2017.
The report found that overall women constituted only "20 percent of the non-acting nominations." However, THR acknowledged that the Academy is not solely to blame for the issue, and that it too often "gets bashed for problems created by the business at large":
[The Academy]'s at the downstream end of a long river that springs up inside executive suites and flows all the way through the offices of presidents of production, development executives and physical production chiefs, then on past the producers and unit production managers who control each movie shoot, before ever reaching the Academy.
Figures collated from the top 250 box office films of 2016 showed that women accounted for just 24% of the producers, 17% of the editors, 17% of the executive producers, 13% of the writers, and just 5% of the cinematographers. These figures show that the issue of gender and sexual biases is inherent in Hollywood, and is not solely the remit of the Academy. As with #OscarsSoWhite before it, #OscarsSoMale aims to draw attention to these statistical schisms in the film-making industry.
The Oscars takes place on February 26th.