February 01, 2020
The 2017 best picture win seemed to herald a new era of diversity. But, judging by this year’s Bafta and Oscar nominations, not much has changed
Three years after Moonlight, why are awards shows still so white?
When, in February 2017, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway first announced the winner of the Academy Award for best picture, it was a brief peek into an alternate reality. Somewhere, in a parallel universe, our mirror selves are continuing to live along the timeline where La La Land – a perfectly charming, self-congratulatory musical about two attractive, white heterosexuals – won the Oscar. A moment later, however, nervous men in tuxedos began to mill on stage, envelopes were swapped around and we were returned to our current timeline. Now we live in this reality, the one where Moonlight, a black, gay, coming-of-age story won the best picture Oscar in 2017, signalling a new dawn of industry recognition for marginalised film-makers and their stories.
Or do we? The nominee lists for major film awards in 2020 have, once again, dazzled with their gleaming whiteness. Not a single person of colour was nominated in the Baftas acting categories (and Margot Robbie was nominated twice), while the Oscars only managed a best actress nod for Cynthia Erivo in Harriet. The actors who gave acclaimed-yet-overlooked performances this year include Awkwafina in The Farewell, Jennifer Lopez in Hustlers, Jamie Foxx in Just Mercy, Lupita Nyong’o in Us and the entire cast of Parasite, who did, at least, pick up a gong for best ensemble cast at the notably more diverse Screen Actors Guild awards.
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