January 13, 2020
Oscars 2020: Joker leads pack, but Academy just trumps Baftas for diversity
Less than a week since Bafta’s strikingly white and male awards shortlist met with widespread criticism – including from the organisation’s own chief executive – the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has released a set of nominations whose small concessions to diversity seem striking by contrast.
Cynthia Erivo is nominated for best actress for her role in a biopic of abolitionist Harriet Tubman, and Parasite – Bong Joon-ho’s acclaimed South Korean black comedy – is up for six awards, including best director and best picture.
Little Women, Greta Gerwig’s so-far-overlooked take on the Louisa May Alcott classic, also scored six nominations, including best picture and best adapted screenplay – but Gerwig was locked out of the all-male best director shortlist.
Such moves are likely to be just about sufficient to insulate the Academy from the worst of the anger that greeted Bafta’s equivalent announcement last Tuesday, where its members snubbed all non-white acting nominees, as well as homegrown talent such as Rapman and Joanna Hogg, and credited Joker – Todd Phillips’s Batman origins story – with the most nods.
However, many commentators expressed distaste at many of Monday’s omissions – in particular the lack of recognition in the best actress category for Lupita Nyong’o, star of Jordan Peele’s horror movie, Us and for Awkwafina, the lead in The Farewell. The complete exclusion of Lulu Wang’s much-admired female-centric Chinese-American drama does little to boost the Academy’s inclusivity credentials.
“In the past, the pushback against #OscarsSoWhite was, ‘There just weren’t enough performances to nominate,’” said April Reign, the activist who created the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag in 2015.
“Well, that’s not the case this year. There was a wealth of talent — and not just of black performers but of various marginalised communities — that was overlooked. And it’s really unfortunate.”
Joker is also the nominee to beat at the Oscars this year, where it likewise goes into the race with 11 nominations, including best picture, best director and best actor for Joaquin Phoenix.
Oscars 2020: Joker leads pack, but Academy just trumps Baftas for diversity
It is only the second comic-book movie to land a best picture nomination, following Black Panther in 2018. Nine years before, Christopher Nolan’s Gotham-set The Dark Knight was snubbed for best picture – a move that many felt damagingly highlighted the divergent tastes of Oscar voters and paying audiences.
Some saw Joker’s position on the top of the pile as further evidence of an endemic misogyny in the film industry, however. Said Melissa Silverstein, the founder of Women and Hollywood: “You don’t have to look further that the movies nominated for the most Oscars this year to realize how white boy centric Hollywood is. A war movie, a mob movie and movie about an incel. Why we continue to glorify these stories over and over again is the crux of the problem.”
Coming in with 10 nominations are Sam Mendes’s first world war thriller 1917, Quentin Tarantino’s love letter to 60s LA, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and Martin Scorsese’s wintry mob epic, The Irishman.
Netflix, the studio responsible for that film, came away with 24 nominations from Monday’s announcement: leading the pack for the first time, but still fewer than anticipated, because of the complete lack of nods for Dolemite Is My Name and slightly underwhelming totals for Marriage Story and The Two Popes.
Disney picked up 23 nominations, while Sony – whose slate last year included Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – took 20.
Oscars 2020: Joker leads pack, but Academy just trumps Baftas for diversity
Marriage Story, Noah Baumbach’s divorce drama, ended up with six nominations, including for stars Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson. Johansson’s role in Jojo Rabbit means she will also be in the running in the best supporting actress race this year – although Laura Dern’s turn as her cynical lawyer in Marriage Story makes her the favourite.
Little Women’s Florence Pugh, Richard Jewell’s Kathy Bates and Margot Robbie (for Bombshell, costing Once Upon a Time in Hollywood a key nod) round out the category – leaving Jennifer Lopez unrecognised for her pole-dancing turn in Hustlers.
Meanwhile, The Irishman’s Joe Pesci and Al Pacino, plus Tom Hanks, Anthony Hopkins and Brad Pitt, whose part in Tarantino’s film has earned him some career-best notices, compete for supporting actor.
Phoenix is the man to beat for leading actor, having taken the lion’s share of awards so far for his transformative performance in Joker. He is up against Driver, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonathan Pryce (for The Two Popes) and Pain and Glory’s Antonio Banderas.
Oscars 2020: Joker leads pack, but Academy just trumps Baftas for diversity
Eddie Murphy and Adam Sandler failed to capitalise on prodigious buzz for Dolemite Is My Name and Uncut Gems, respectively – and Robert De Niro’s leading role in The Irishman again failed to win over first-round voters. Taron Egerton’s Golden Globe win on Sunday for his Elton John in Rocketman did not in the end convert to an Oscar nomination.
Another apparent lock-in leads the best actress nominations: Renée Zellweger, whose turn as Judy Garland in last year’s biopic has won over critics and voters in other awards bodies alike. Competing against her, Johansson and Erivo are Little Women’s Saoirse Ronan and Bombshell’s Charlize Theron.
Last year’s Oscars won much praise for handing out four trophies – including best director – to Alfonso Cuaron’s Spanish-language, black-and-white story of a domestic servant, Roma; praise tempered by the eventual victory of reductive interracial road movie Green Book for best picture.
Oscars 2020: Joker leads pack, but Academy just trumps Baftas for diversity
This year, second-round voters have the chance to repeat the trick by honouring a foreign-language film in categories other than best international film: Parasite – which tells of an impoverished family infiltrating the lives of a wealthy household – is also up for best film, best director, best original screenplay, best editing and best production design.
The Baftas announcement last week led to such a backlash that the awards body promised a major review of its voting procedures. Speaking to the Guardian, Steve McQueen – a Bafta and Oscar winner for 12 Years a Slave – said the organisation risked cultural redundancy without urgent change.
Both the Baftas and Oscars have undertaken membership shakeups over the past five years in a bid to better reflect the diversity of both films and the wider world.
In 2017, a Bafta survey found that its members were 43% female, 18% minority ethnic and had a median age of 44; further intakes would likely have raised those figures further. Last year’s ceremony was the first since a new set of eligibility rules, designed to increase inclusion, were introduced for two key awards.
In 2016, the Oscars announced an intention to double their number of female and minority voters by 2020; a goal that appears to have been achieved by enormous drafts of fresh members, including 842 new faces in 2019 – and, more controversially, taking voting privileges away from “dormant” members.
The nominations in 24 categories were read out by John Cho and Issa Rae in Hollywood, ahead of the ceremony on 9 February. For the second year running, there will be no host, after last year’s impromptu decision not to replace Kevin Hart led to an 11% boost in the telecast’s ratings – the first rise since 2014.
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
Jan 02, 2024
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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