When the Academy announced their slate of nominations in 2015, the world began to notice a trend. Every acting nomination was white, every director was male, and nearly every technical category was composed of men. Aside from the specifically female categories such as Best Lead Actress in a Motion Picture, the nominations completely lacked diversity and representation for women and people of colour. This was nothing new, as in the 90 years that the Academy Awards have existed, only four women have been nominated for Best Director, four black men have won Best Actor, and only one black woman has ever won Best Actress (Halle Berry in 2001). Due to public outcry and #oscarssowhite trending on social media, the Academy vowed to be more inclusive. But, following the announcement of the 2018 nominations, we must ask if anything has actually changed in this regard. Thankfully, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’.
We can see this change by simply look- ing to the Best Director category. First up is Greta Gerwig, whose work on Lady Bird led her to become the fifth woman ever to be nominated for Best Director. In an interview with Variety, Gerwig said, “the number of women who are making really interesting films and the desire to shine a spotlight on them and us and women producers and directors and filmmakers and executives, that’s the thing I’m heartened by.”
Next up is Jordan Peele, the director of one of 2017’s biggest and most relevant films, Get Out. As an African American man, Peele became the fifth person of colour ever to be nominated in this category, and may become the first to win. In an interview with ET, Peele expressed his initial fear of Get Out not being produced, say- ing, “I literally thought this was an unproduceable movie because people seem to be afraid to take the race on.”
Diversity can now be seen in nearly every category, from Mexican director Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape of Water receiving fourteen nominations, to Kobe Bryant (yes, really) being nominated for his short-animated film Dear Basketball. But this writer would like to shine a light on a lesser known category: best cinematography. Due to most audiences not properly understanding what cinematography is in the first place, the media has not been covering it, or the fact that it has always been an exclusively male category. But, in 2018, we see the first ever nomination for a female cinematographer in Rachel Morrison, for her outstanding work on Mud- bound. Just moments after her nomination was announced, Morrison excitedly stated to The Hollywood Reporter, “women are so qualified they should just go for it. It’s not just about cinematography, it about believing in yourself and that anything’s possible. I believe the job of the cinematographer is to visualize emotion — things we as women are inherently good at.”
It is impossible to determine what the Academy’s intentions were in this sudden shift towards more diverse nominations. Where some believe that the voters were simply guilted into it because of the controversy in 2015, others say that the talent that this diverse slate of nominees showcased in 2017 absolutely deserved the recognition they received. Regardless of the truth, this writer is happy to see acclaim given to groups who were unjustly ignored for so many years.