Hash tag Times so phony: Should some black actors have received Oscar nominations this year?
How about black-themed films? Should some such films have been nominated? How about black directors?
In one way, we're the perfect site to handle this burgeoning topic. We didn't see any new films, Oscar-nominated or otherwise, during the past year. (Main problem—they charge admission.)
For that reason, we have no particular presuppositions about the actors and films in question.
That said, the debate about the Oscar nods has been growing. Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith have said they won't attend the Oscars this year due to the lack of black nominations. Meanwhile, Cara Buckley addressed the topic again in this morning's New York Times.
In the passages shown below, Buckley got specific about some of the actors and directors whose work was "ignored." Presumably, she may be naming some of the people whose work was allegedly snubbed:
BUCKLEY (1/19/16): [A]t a star-studded gathering of mostly black performers to honor Dr. King, organized at Riverside Church in Harlem, mentions of the Academy Awards were kept in check, even by those whose films and performances were ignored.Should Jordan, Smith, Thompson and/or Elba have received Best Actor nominations? We have no idea. Ditto for Coogler and Lee as possible Best Director nominees.
Neither the event’s host, Ryan Coogler, the director of “Creed,” nor the film’s stars, Michael B. Jordan, who read a Fred Hampton speech before a rapt crowd, and Tessa Thompson, who read one by Angela Davis, alluded to the complaints surrounding the nominations. (The only Oscar nomination for “Creed” went to Sylvester Stallone, for his performance as a supporting actor.)
Ms. Pinkett Smith had already taken aim at the Academy on Saturday, asking on Facebook and Twitter, “Should people of color refrain from participating all together?” She added, “People can only treat us in the way in which we allow.”
She answered her own question on Monday, saying, in the video, “We can no longer beg for the love, acknowledgment or respect of any group.” Her husband, Will Smith, was a best actor contender for his lead role in “Concussion” but received no nomination.
Mr. Lee’s boycott is especially fraught for the Academy because, though he received an honorary Oscar in November; his latest film, “Chi-Raq,” earned no nominations.
Meanwhile, in London, the actor Idris Elba—who was shut out of Oscar contention despite being a heavy favorite for his performance in “Beasts of No Nation”—denounced the lack of diversity in British television to lawmakers there.
Should Creed or Chi-Raq have been nominated for Best Picture? Once again, we have no idea; we haven't even seen Brooklyn! (To tell the truth, we rarely know who the best actors or directors are even if we have seen the movies in question.)
That said, this site is about the work of our journalists, not our actors or our directors. It isn't even about the souls of Tinseltown's white-shoed Academy members.
Who should have been nominated this year? We have no idea. We did have a very puzzled reaction to the fascinating three-way colloquy which appeared on-line at the New York Times on January 15.
In this colloquy, three of the New York Times' full-time critics discussed the controversy about the Oscar nominations. We'd say their discussion landed just this side of completely amazing. It appeared beneath this hard-hitting headline:
"Oscars So White? Or Oscars So Dumb? Discuss."
Basically, people have long agreed that Oscar nominations tend to be dumb. In this recent discussion, the three critics discussed the possible role played by race and racism in this year's nominations.
Who took part in this discussion? The players are these:
Dramatis personaeMorris was a Boston Globe film critic for years. He joined the Times this past September, assigned to wider-ranging critical duties. As best we can tell, he didn't do a "Best Films" list this year.
Manohla Dargis, New York Times film critic
A. O. Scott, New York Times film critic
Wesley Morris, New York Times critic at large
In that January 15 discussion, Scott, Dargis and Morris discussed the racial controversy concerning the new Oscar nods. What fascinated us was this:
In one case after another, the critics dropped R-bombs on the Academy's head for failing to make certain nominations. But uh-oh! In most of these cases, Scott and Dargis had snubbed the same actors, directors and films when they listed their own preferred Oscar nominations back on January 3!
Good grief! In lofty fashion, they dropped R-bombs on Hollywood's head for having committed snubs—the very same snubs they had authored exactly twelve days before!
Here's the basic background:
Back on December 9, Scott and Dargis joined fellow Times film critic Steven Holden in listing the year's top films. To peruse those lists, click here.
Later, it got better. On Sunday, January 3, the same three critics appeared in the hard-copy Times to "offer up their own lists of Oscar-worthy films and performances from the past year." That feature appeared in the Times beneath this headline:
"Oscars 2016: And the Nominees Should Be..."
In that January 3 feature, Dargis, Scott and Holden each listed their preferred nominations for Best Picture, Best Director and all Best Actor/Actress categories. And uh-oh!
In those lists, you can see Dargis and Scott "snubbing" the same actors, directors and films they would later excoriate Tinseltown for snubbing! They'd drop their R-bombs just twelve days later. And no, we aren't making this up.
Go ahead! Review the lists of recommended nominees presented by Dargis and Scott on January 3. Then read that January 15 discussion, in which they R-bomb the Academy for failing to nominate some of the very same people and films they themselves had ignored.
Tomorrow, we'll run through that January 15 discussion, a discussion we would rate as "many thumbs down/just this side of amazing." When we do, we'll make two suggestions:
Unless there's something we're totally missing, this helps us see the kinds of people who often work for the New York Times.
Also, this helps us see why people who don't belong to our own liberal tribe often look upon our intellectual leaders with utter contempt. (Warning! This is what some of Those People may mean when they attack "political correctness," a term we ourselves don't use.)
It's very, very, very hard to square that January 15 discussion with those January 3/December 9 lists. But then again, as we've always told you:
It's very hard to come to terms with the emptiness of the souls at the Times. They constitute one of our phoniest, most god-awful pseudo-progressive elites.
Tomorrow: That January 15 discussion!