Controversy Surrounds the 88th Academy Awards

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Chris Rock hosting the Oscars on February 28th

Logan Winser, Reporter

For 88 years the Academy Awards (also known as the Oscars) has been an award show dedicated to recognizing the best Hollywood has to offer, ranging from the following categories: Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Picture along with other small categories like best Cinematography and Best Costume Design according to Time Magazine. This year in Hollywood on February 28th, out of the 24 categories now part of the Oscars, none of them had an African American nominee according to the New York Times, and this upset the nation.

Across social media, according to Entertainment Weekly, the hashtag #oscarssowhite was trending on Twitter days before the Oscars. The internet had been split about if the Academy was racist. Junior Hailey Clark has her take on the academies racism.

“I don’t think the Academy is racist at all,” says Clark. “They had a black host this year in Chris Rock and I’ve seen black actors nominated before. But even a Latino Director won this year (Alejandro González Iñárritu for Revenant).”

Before the nominations came out, the Academy selected comedian Chris Rock to host the Oscars this year. Being a black man, Rock didn’t take it well when he saw that no blacks were nominated for the show he was hosting.

Instead of boycotting the awards show, he took his job as host as an opportunity. In front of 34.4 million people, according to the BBC, Rock made his opening monologue about the academy’s racism towards the blacks in Hollywood. Rock talked about how often blacks are nominated at the Oscars.

“It’s the 88th Academy Awards, which means this whole no black nominees thing has happened at least 71 other times,” Rock said on the awards show.

As accurate as that sounds coming from a comedian that stars in Adam Sandler movies, that number is false.

The Academy Awards started in 1929, and it is true that no African Americans were nominated till 1959. But after the 30th Oscars,  48 of the next 58 award shows had black nominees, and from 1980 until 2015, there has been a black nominee every year except 2010, according to the Oscars Nominations webpage.

According to EW, Social Media was primarily upset no black actors were in the Best Actor category. Names that were thrown around that could have been in the category were Samuel L. Jackson for his role in the Hateful Eight, Michael B. Jordan for his role as Creed, and Will Smith for his role in Concussion.

In the movie the Hateful Eight, there are in total eight characters primarily in the movie, and Jackson has the third least screen time according to Rotten Tomatoes. So it would be tough to consider Jackson as the main character.

The movie Concussion barely received a passing grade, getting a 60% on Rotten Tomatoes. According to Rotten Tomatoes, no film had a failing grade that was nominated for any category at the 88th Oscar except 50 Shades of Grey for their original single “Earned it,” so Smith’s Concussion would have been the second worst movie at the Oscars.

Creed revived the Rocky franchise according to EW, as Michael B Jordan took on the lead role in the critically accepted sequel to Rocky. But critics of Rotten Tomatoes believe Jordans role wasn’t the reason Creed did so well. They believe Sylvester Stallones role as the older Rocky was the reason people enjoied Creed, as he was nominated for best Supporting Actor. They back up Jordan’s mediocre acting skills with the movie he also starred in this year, Fantastic Four, that got an awful 9% on Rotten Tomatoes and had Jordan’s worst performance.

But the controversy of the no black nominees took away from some big moments at this year’s Oscars.

Lady Gaga performed her single “Till it Happens to You” as about 70-80 kids came out who have been sexually abused.

Mad Max took over the Oscars winning six awards primarily in editing and set design categories.

The movie Spotlight starring Mark Ruffalo and Michael Keaton won Best Picture for its story of a local newspaper writing a story about priests having sexual encounters with little boys.

Lastly, Leonardo DiCaprio finally won an Oscar. After five nominations, DiCaprio won best actor for his role in Revenant. He has been previously nominated for his roles in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, The Aviator, Blood Diamond and The Wolf of Wall Street. In his acceptance speech, he thanked all the people that had helped him become the great actor he is today, then he ended it by talking about…climate change.

“Climate change is real, it is happening right now.” DiCaprio said. “It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating. We need to support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters, but who speak for all of humanity.”