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The North Star

Diversity in the 2024’s Oscars


The Oscars have a long and decisive history of prejudice, disqualifications, and scandals. For a long time, the Academy Awards were run almost entirely by older, white men. This led to massive under-representation for years, culminating in 2015’s #OscarsSoWhite movement.

The legacy of this movement, which aimed to criticize the lack of diversity of those in power within the Academy Awards, with many insiders speaking out, has lasted nearly a decade afterwards. Within this past awards season, new D.E.I. (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) rules have been instituted for the Oscars.

The Academy Awards have faced backlash from both ends of the compass for the new set of rules. Many people on social media call it out for trying too hard to force diversity out of modern filmmaking, others blame leftist doctrine for poisoning the Awards.

The new set of rules includes things like a list of “underrepresented racial or ethnic groups,” guidelines for what percentage of nominees must display underrepresented groups, and the fact that the ‘Best Picture’ award is exempt from all of their D.E.I. standards. The last fact had recently become a point of contention in response to one lone film winning seven Academy Awards this season.

Oppenheimer is a 2023 film by Christopher Nolan starring Cillian Murphy, Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh, and Emily Blunt. It tells the story of Robert J. Oppenheimer, creator of the atomic bomb. It mainly features two, middle-aged white men as the leading roles. The supporting cast also predominantly feature white men, with some white women mostly playing the roles of wife and mistress.

Oppenheimer’s sweep of the Oscars was not unprecedented in the slightest— in fact, some expected it and proclaimed the movie was “Oscar bait” (avant-garde or artistic movies created with the intention of appeasing those in charge of the Oscars.) In total, Oppenheimer was nominated for thirteen awards, but won seven: Best Original Score, Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Supporting Actor, Best Actor, Best Director, and finally, Best Picture.

Oppenheimer’s metric ton of awards was not the only win to upset the audience at the Oscars, though. The place for Best Actress in a Leading Role this year was contentious, with those on social media narrowing it down to two main candidates: Lily Gladstone of Killers of the Flower Moon and Emma Stone of Poor Things. Public favor, while divided between the two, swayed heavily toward Lily Gladstone. A win for Gladstone would have been monumental, as she would have been the first Native American woman to win this high of an award at the Oscars.

Though, ultimately, Gladstone was not chosen over Stone, many people still rejoiced— Stone’s performance was magnetic in the film. But still, some had wished for the inclusion of an Indigenous woman as Best Actress. Especially considering the narrative of the film Gladstone starred in— the murders of Osage people in the 1920s. Those murders, genuinely committed in Oklahoma, were all orchestrated by a white man.

Ultimately, the creation of the Oscars’ Inclusion rules is a step in the right direction. Even though some diversity was lacking among the winners, many stories about LGBTQ+ people, people of color, and disabled people were finally given much deserved recognition. Representation matters. It always helps to feel seen and recognized among the movies and TV shows that play everyday, that win awards, that become classics.

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