This year’s Academy Awards nominations saw several of 2014’s critically acclaimed films rewarded for their effort, while the Academy snubbed other prominent films. In a controversial move, the Academy nominated exclusively white actors and actresses in the leading and supporting actor categories. Meanwhile, no women received nominations for Best Director or Best Screenwriter.
The lack of diversity among the nominees marks a stark distinction from last year’s ceremony, in which “12 Years a Slave” was named Best Picture, and its star, Lupita Nyong’o, won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. The nomination announcements prompted a backlash across multiple social media platforms and led to the trending hashtag #OscarsSoWhite on Twitter.
It is hard to pinpoint why the decision was made, but a deeper look into the demographics of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences reveals a pervasive lack of diversity. A 2012 study done by the Los Angeles Times showed that 93 percent of Academy voters are white, and 73 percent are male. Efforts are underway to create a more inclusive ballot, according to Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy. Isaacs, who is the Academy’s first African-American president, said for the past couple years, the Academy has added more than 400 new voting members with the goal of increasing diversity. However, the Times study revealed that a staggering 87 percent of the members inducted in 2012 were white. In 2013, the percentage of white voters fell to 82 percent.
Public reactions to the nomination have ranged from accusatory to satirical, although Ava DuVernay, director of “Selma,” chose to focus on the film’s nominations for Best Original Song and Best Picture, rather than the fact that she was not nominated for Best Director. On her Twitter profile, DuVernay tweeted “Happy Birthday, Dr. King. An Oscar gift for you. To SELMA cast + crew led by our miracle David Oyelowo! To Common + Legend! Kudos! March on!” If DuVernay had received a nomination for directing “Selma,” she would have been the first black female nominee in the category. Common, whose song “Glory” was nominated, starred in the film as the civil rights activist James Bevel and expressed disappointment in the film’s overall snub.
Amid the controversy, it was an overwhelmingly good day for Texas filmmakers. The academy rewarded philosophy alumnus Wes Anderson with several nominations for “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” Anderson received his first nomination for Best Director, and the film also snagged nods for Best Picture, Original Screenplay and other categories. Meanwhile, prominent Austinite Richard Linklater has his eyes set on Best Picture and Director for “Boyhood.”
The ceremony will probably hold its regular audience of loyal viewers, along with its usual number of critics. Neil Patrick Harris is this year’s host, which may be a much-needed boost for the otherwise bland show.
Correction: This article has been updated from its original version. Wes Anderson is a philosophy alumnus.