Oscars 2015: A look at the persistent ‘sameness’ in Academy Award nominees

Of those nominated by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, all the 2014 nominees for best director are white men and all the acting nominees are white. 'I ... look forward to [seeing] a greater cultural diversity among all our nominees in all of our categories,' Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the academy’s first black president, said.

Atsushi Nishijima/Paramount Pictures/AP
David Oyelowo with 'Selma' director Ava Duvernay.

On the heels of Oscar nominations, there is always some grumbling. This year the lack of particularly racial diversity in the nominees prompted #OscarsSoWhite to proliferate within minutes across social media. Of those nominated by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, all the 2014 nominees for best director are white men and all the acting nominees – for best actor, best supporting actor, best actress, and best supporting actress – are white. That hasn’t happened since 1998.

Some observers were surprised that this year’s nominees didn’t continue building on the ascent of minorities in Hollywood, beginning with Hattie McDaniel’s historic win in 1939 for “Gone with the Wind” and culminating with last year’s best picture award going to “12 Years a Slave.”

David Oyelowo, who portrayed Martin Luther King Jr. in “Selma,” and “Selma” director Ava DuVernay both ended up on many lists of possible contenders for Oscar nominations. But it wasn’t meant to be. Others have pointed to snubs along gender lines. In addition to only men being nominated for best director, no women were nominated for best adapted screen play, even though “Gone Girl,” by Gillian Flynn, earned critical acclaim.

“In the last two years, we’ve made greater strides than we ever have in the past toward becoming a more diverse and inclusive organization...,” Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the academy’s first black president, told The Associated Press. “I ... look forward to [seeing] a greater cultural diversity among all our nominees in all of our categories.”

But even if the academy seems behind in its recognitions, public opinion is way ahead. Weeks before Lupita Nyong’o took home the best supporting actress trophy for “12 Years a Slave” she gave a speech on being black and feeling beautiful at an Essence magazine award banquet. It became a viral sensation almost overnight.

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