• February 26, 2024

Live Updates: Oscars 2021 : NPR

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Oscar statuettes backstage during the 89th annual Academy Awards on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California.

Christopher Polk / Getty Images

After years marked by the hashtags #OscarsSoWhite and #OscarsSoMale, industry watchers are crowing over this year’s topline numbers. For the first time in Academy Awards history, nearly half of the nominees in the acting categories (9 out of 20) are performers of colors, and the 23 categories have more women (70) nominated than any other year before.

Neither #OscarsSoWhite nor #OscarsSoMale - what a difference does a pandemic make

Less attention is paid to the fact that this expanded diversity in the most nominated films of the year comes with social awareness. There are the stories of FBI misconduct in the ordeal of Black Panther Fred Hampton in Judas and the black messiah, and the tragic downfall of the singer “Lady Day” in The United States versus Billie Holliday; Portraits of social activists in the 1960s One night in Miami and The Chicago Trial 7 Also stories of women defending themselves against systemic abuse – from a racist music industry in Ma Rainey’s black bum and from a misogynist culture in Promising young woman.

Stories about social marginalization can be found in Nomad land, through a community of economically displaced drifters, Threats the chronicle of a Korean immigrant family moving to Arkansas, and Sound of metal, about a heavy metal drummer who is in an unfamiliar territory when he has severe hearing loss.

This is a powerful litany of social problems that leads to a time of social turmoil in the world outside of Cineplexes. A litany that might have been circulated had COVID-19 not destroyed the film studio’s release plans and changed the pricing landscape.

A conversation with the creator of #OscarsSoWhite

Before the pandemic, the films viewed as likely Oscar contenders contained more anodyne offerings: a new version of the musical West Side Story (scripted by Pulitzer winner Tony Kushner and directed by Oscar winner Steven Spielberg) that starred Star-studded costume epic The Last Duel by Gladiator director Ridley Scott and The French Dispatch, the latest craze from Wes Anderson, Director of The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Given the talent and clout behind them, everyone would have been heavily sponsored by their studios and possibly brushed aside some of the more socially conscious titles that have dominated this awards season.


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