Entertainment & Arts

Oscar and Brits nominations stoke diversity debate

The lead actors in Straight Outta Compton Image copyright Universal Pictures
Image caption Straight Outta Compton received just one Oscar nomination - for its white screenwriters

The absence of any non-whites in the four Oscar acting categories for the second year running has prompted more discussion on diversity in Hollywood.

Will Smith and Idris Elba are among those who were snubbed by Academy voters, according to some commentators.

Gil Robertson of the African-American Film Critics Association complained that it was "business as usual".

Reginald Hudlin, co-producer of this year's Oscar ceremony, called the situation "frustrating".

"Maybe if there's 50 great films by black film-makers, they will get three nominations," the director continued.

"It's just a frustrating thing that the voting doesn't reflect what America is saying very loud and clear."

One bone of contention is the Academy's failure to nominate Straight Outta Compton, a biopic of rap collective NWA, for the best picture Oscar.

Its black director, F Gary Gray, was also overlooked, as were its cast members. The film did receive a single nomination, for its four white screenwriters.

Image copyright Netflix/Sony
Image caption Elba (l) and Smith had been tipped by some to be cited for Beasts of No Nation and Concussion

Creed star Michael B Jordan and his director Ryan Coogler were also left off the shortlist, though Sylvester Stallone was recognised for his work in the film.

"Creed was written and directed by the black Ryan Coogler and starred a black man, but the only nominee was a white man," wrote Variety's Tim Gray.

Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the Academy's first African-American president, admitted to being "disappointed" by another all-white line-up in the acting categories.

"We have got to speed it up," she said of her organisation's attempts to become the "more diverse and inclusive organisation" she called for this time last year.

"Why did the Oscars announce all the white nominees first?" tweeted comedian Ricky Gervais after Thursday's nominations announcement in Los Angeles.

Civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton, meanwhile, compared Hollywood to America's Rocky Mountains by tweeting: "The higher [yo]u climb the whiter."

Image copyright AP
Image caption Coogler (l) and Jordan are the director and star of Creed, a continuation of the Rocky franchise

Homeland actor David Harewood and Booker-winning Marlon James were among others to tweet their dismay.

In a post which was later removed, Harewood suggested that "all nominees [should] turn up to this year's Oscar ceremony in blackface".

James, meanwhile, joked that the bear that mauls Leonardo DiCaprio's character in The Revenant "would have snagged a nomination if she were polar."

Last year's lack of diversity saw the creation of the Twitter hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, resurrected this year as #OscarsStillSoWhite.

Several of those using it predicted comedian Chris Rock would be sure to reference the disparity in his role as Oscar ceremony host.

'Ethnicity a factor'

Charles Gant, film editor of Heat magazine, suggests the lack of diversity within the Academy's 6,000-strong membership is having a knock-on effect on the overall nomination shortlist.

"The ethnic make-up of the Academy is obviously a factor in what gets recognised and celebrated, and the solution would be for a more diverse set of winners to become invited to become members, leading to a more diverse set of winners and so on," he said

"But sometimes also it's a case of how the pieces fall in a given year. Straight Outta Compton, for example, is a great showcase for acting, with three appealing young leads, but maybe one single actor didn't emerge for the Academy to rally behind."

In his most recent Kermode Uncut post, critic Mark Kermode bemoans the "obvious" omission of Idris Elba in the best supporting actor category for his role in African civil war drama Beasts of No Nation.

"In fact, when you look at all the performance nominations, it has to be said [that] diversity isn't the word that immediately springs to mind," he goes on to say.

Image copyright Matt Sayles
Image caption The Weeknd was one of the few black nominees, for best international male

Some eyebrows were been raised over the lack of diversity in this year's Brit nominations, which were also announced on Thursday.

There were no black or Asian minority (BAME) acts among the British nominees, a shortfall pointed out by NME magazine among others.

"Take a glance down the Brit nominations and for best male and best female solo artist, best group, album of the year and breakthrough act," wrote its online reporter.

"You might be disappointed, but probably not surprised, to learn that they're all white."

International male solo artist saw rapper Drake, Kendrick Lamar and R&B singer The Weeknd nominated.

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