Oscar Race Row: Should These 8 Films Have Been Nominated?

As part of our campaign to #BREAKFREE from racism - and as the Oscar Diversity Debate rages on - we take a look at the films which weren't nominated, but perhaps should have been...

It’s 2016, and we’re struggling to get our heads around the inequality and lack of diversity in Hollywood. But as the world continues to debate how we’re still in a society that still judges you on the colour of your skin, we wanted to shed some light on eight of the films which are widely considered to have been overlooked ahead of this year’s Academy Awards.

Maybe you’ve seen some of them. Maybe you haven’t.

But one thing suddenly becomes clear when you look at the posters.

Yep, there’s only one woman – in eight films – who is considered vital enough to a film’s plot to deserve picturing.

We’ve already discussed ‘misogynoir’ and ‘intersectionality’ this week – but it’s worth mentioning again. Because however hard it is for men of colour to achieve recognition (in Hollywood and out of Hollywood), it’s even harder for their female counterparts.

There’s a glass ceiling in Hollywood, and judging from this year’s Academy nominations, it’s tainted white.

Directed by: Spike Lee
Starring: Nick Cannon, Teyonah Parris, Snipes, Angela Bassett, Samuel L. Jackson, John Cusack, Hudson
Summary: Ever study the Greek play, Lysistrata (by Aristophanes) at high school? No? No matter. This is the same story (just about), only relocated into modern day Chicago, and set against a backdrop of gang violence.

Directed by: Cary Joji Fukunaga
Starring: Idris Elba, Abraham Attah, Emmanuel Affadzi, Rickey Adelayitor
Summary: A terrifying warlord trains a teenage boy to become a child soldier, against an unnamed African country. Full disclosure here – I have not seen this film – but it has four and a half stars out of five on Rotten Tomatoes, and it’s described as a ‘brutal drama’. Also, Idris nearly died on set. Which is a pretty big deal.

Directed by: F. Gary Gray
Starring: O’Shea Jackson Jr., Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Marlon Yates Jr., Aldis Hodge
Summary: It’s the mid-80s and nobody knows who Dr Dre is yet. (We know, we know – our minds don’t bend backwards that far either.) This dynamic, intelligent, gritty film depicts the rise of hip hop group NWA. Oh, and if you didn’t quite get it from the title, it’s set in Compton, Los Angeles.

Directed by:
Ryan Coogler
Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad
Summary: Rocky Balboa is a former World Heavyweight Champion, and agrees to train and mentor Adonis Johnson, the son of his late friend (and – drum roll – total rival, Apollo Creed.)

Directed by: Peter Landesman
Starring: Will Smith, Alec Bladwin, Albert Brooks
Summary: The Fresh Prince gets all thoughtful and serious in this film about a pathologist who discovers the truth (the truth!) about brain damage suffered by American football players. It’s all very emotional, and makes you want to give Will Smith a hug.

Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
Starring: Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro
Summary: Benicio Del Toro stars in this film about the drugs war in Mexico. (Disclaimer – I haven’t seen this one either, but it wins gender points for starring Emily Blunt, and loses diversity marks for the fact that despite Benicio’s awesome role, it’s actually a primarily white film. Again.)

Directed by: Rick Famuyiwa
Starring: Shameik Moore, Blake Anderson, Rakim Mayers, Quincy Brown, Chanel Iman
Summary: Hands up who was a bit of a loser at high school? Now, hands up who stopped being a loser, when they accidentally got handed a massive stash of marijuana and started going to underground parties? Yeah, us neither. But it’s nice to find out what would have happened to us if we had.

Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Zoe Bell, Tim Roth
Summary: It’s a snowy day in winter, when a bounty hunter (guys, it’s a Tarantino film – there was ALWAYS gonna be a bounty hunter) stumbled into a shed. And he’s not the only one with that idea…

Reading now