It’s Oscar season again, a time where Hollywood pits itself against itself to give itself a pat on the back for a job well done. The year 2014 gave us some fantastic turns, my personal favourites being Alejandro Inarritu’s Birdman, a brilliant satire on superhero films, and Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash.
The Oscars have been known to disappoint over the years, 2014 being no different with some unceremonious snubs across the board. Where’s The Lego Movie, for Best-Animated film? Where’s Bennet Miller’s Foxcatcher for Best Picture? And of course, one of the more controversial moves by the Oscars this year — snubbing Ava DuVernay’s Selma entirely.
Now, if you were to scan this year’s Best Actor/Actress nominees, you might pick up on something: all the nominees are Caucasian.
Why would a film that tackles racial tension and deals with the life of the infamous Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. settle for two nominations when American Sniper and The Imitation Game pop up continuously across the board?
Is Selma even worthy of the nominations? Absolutely. Ava DeVurney’s steady direction and David Oyelowo’s stunning turn as a historical figure makes this film nothing short of mesmerizing. Selma deserves more of a significant standing against the other nominees. Best Picture is well deserved but the film’s performances and direction are unfairly pushed to the side. Ava DuVernay directed an easy contender for Best Film of The Year and her job as director being sidelined is tragically unceremonious.
Now, we know Hollywood as a racially biased industry — pretending they’re not so they can make easy money. 12 Years a Slave won Best Picture last year and Django Unchained won Best Original Screenplay the year before that. It’s upsetting that race is still a concern in filmmaking. Do we want Selma up there solely because we see it as a ‘black’ film?
As the Internet loses its mind over Hollywood’s apparent ‘racial fatigue’, we have to ask: why are we looking at films through a racial lense? Are we looking at Selma as a product that adds diversity to an industry, or are we looking at it as a piece of art? Either way, Selma will still stand as one of the more under appreciated films of the past year, which should give you more incentive to watch it.
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