The Awards Forecast: Academy faces backlash over whitewashed awards

By Jonathan Edmondson
Columnist

I’ve been paying close attention to the Academy Awards for the past five years and no matter what films are nominated, there is always one thing you can count on — people being disappointed.

This year’s biggest disappointment doesn’t come from a single film or performer being overlooked — although there are plenty of grumblings about those things, too — but from the Best Actor/Actress race being whitewashed for a second year in a row.

Last year, after nominations were announced, the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite began floating around social media. A year later, the hashtag is back again. Not a single person of color was nominated for an acting award.

Media outlets have taken notice. Following the nominations announcement on Thursday, Jan. 14, many publications rolled out articles about the lack of diversity and the general frustration with Academy members.

Regardless, the 2016 Oscar nominations are bracing to be a stiff competition between seasoned actors and newbies alike. It is one of the most exciting, wide-open races in recent history.

I’ll dive deeper into each of the major categories in the weeks to come. But for now, let’s focus on the biggest snubs.

Best Supporting Actress — Jane Fonda, “Youth” — Fonda, at age 78, is a force to be reckoned with in the Italian film, which also stars Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel. In her role as Brenda, Fonda only appears in the film in one scene. But in those precious few minutes, Fonda proves why she’s still one of the greatest actresses of our generation. She’s commanding, fierce and utterly captivating. While the women nominated may have had more to do, Fonda arguably made the biggest impact of any supporting actress this film season.

Fonda shines in her supporting role in ‘Youth.’ (AP Photo)
Fonda shines in her supporting role in ‘Youth.’ (AP Photo)

Best  Director — Todd Haynes, “Carol” — While the film itself received six nominations, director Haynes was severely snubbed here. His masterful camera work helps frame the haunting love story at the core of the film. Performances from Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett help to anchor the film (and thankfully, they were included in the nominations list), but Haynes is the fearless leader taking genius risks that push “Carol” to new heights.

Haynes is snubbed for his direction in ‘Carol.’ (AP Photo)
Haynes is snubbed for his direction in ‘Carol.’ (AP Photo)

Best Supporting Actor — Jacob Tremblay, “Room” At age nine, Tremblay has proven he is a star. As Jack Newsome, the young actor gives one of the rawest and most intimate performances of the season. Newsome spends the first five years of his life in one room with only a skylight (due to the fact that his mother, played by Oscar nominee Brie Larson, has been held in captivity for the last seven years). He has grown fond of the room, as it is the only reality he knows. But (spoiler alert) when he plays along with his mother’s plan and has to fake being dead in order to be removed from the room, it is impossible not to be completely captivated by this young actor’s performance. When he sees the world outside of those four walls for the first time, it’s simply one of the most magical moments ever captured on camera. This snub is truly one that hurts.

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