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Oscars have improved the diversity of their nominations

In the midst of awards season, the Oscars nominations came with mixed responses.  

Director Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water” earned a whopping 13 nominations and leads the pack, followed by “Dunkirk” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” 

The mixed responses ranged from cheers for inclusion and the expression of snubbery. 

The New York Times created their own list of surprises and snubs of the nominations, but I believe the perceived snubs were correctly done – not snubs at all, but fitting exclusions that exemplify the slow but steady progress the entertainment industry is making toward being diverse and socially aware. 

Despite appearances on year end lists such as MetaCritics and Vanity Fair, both “Wonder Woman” and “Call Me By Your Name” were ignored by the Academy, but both movies could have been influenced by the heightened awareness of political correctness within movies and the people surrounding them. 

The New York Times believed Armie Hammer from Call Me By Your Name might have been able to break out of his “commercial” appeal and receive critical acclaim, yet the movie’s content itself left people uncomfortable, especially the seven year age gap in a relationship between a barely-old-enough-to-consent 17-year-old French boy and a 24-year-old American tourist. The relationship is extremely sexual and some said they felt it was “predatory and manipulative.” 

The snubbing of "Wonder Woman" is deeply rooted in the fact that it is a franchise movie, specifically a comic book adaptation, which the Academy does not perceive well. Despite leading actress Gal Gadot’s politics, a big issue for the film was the continued sexualization of women despite the focus on female strength. 

Other than the snubs, some were surprised by the lack of a best actor nod for James Franco for his critically acclaimed role in “The Disaster Artist.” Many news sources believe this snub was because of  the recent sexual misconduct allegations made against Franco. Despite disappointment from fans, Franco is supposedly “relieved” he didn’t get the nomination. He does hope that it isn’t related to the allegations, but the reports came out in the middle of the judging period. 

The snubs this year are not upsetting or surprising to me, considering the Academy have been trying to vary their nominations ever since #OscarsSoWhite emerged in 2015 after the 2015 nominations were revealed. 

This year shows progress, but the creator of the hashtag, April Reign, said the hashtag will no longer be relevant when we aren't talking about firsts in the film academy and "until we can no longer count a traditionally underrepresented group's number of nominations in a particular category on our fingers.”

And it will stop being relevant when major news sources  like the New York Times are no longer “surprised” by well-deserving nominees like Denzel Washington – potential first black actor to win three Oscars – Jordan Peele – first black director to earn three nominations – and Rachel Morrison – first woman to be nominated for best cinematography. 

As I have mentioned before in previous columns, yes, there has been progress. I want to see more. 

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