Monday, January 18, 2016


Theron: just one of the guys.
What were they thinking with this year's Oscar nominations?

It's pretty much business as usual over at Boys Town (aka: the Motion Picture Academy), with most of the kudos going to movies whose casts, filmmakers and subject matter are—how can I put this?—white and male.

Male ensemble casts are the E-ticket rides this year—The Revenant, The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, The Martian. At least Spotlight has a token woman reporter (Rachel McAdams) in the newsroom.

But while Mad Max: Fury Road, prominently features a grundged-out Charlize Theron in its plot and ads, it only reminds us that tough guys are still the gold standard—even for women.

The Big Short: men in suits.

The highest-profile female-oriented movie of the year, Todd Haynes' Carol,  got shut out of the Best Picture competition (although its stars got nominated).

The lovely female coming-of-age drama, Brooklyn, actually is in the running for Best Picture, but without a corresponding nomination for its director, its chances are slim.

The only other nominee with a female protagonist, Room, scored noms for both picture and director Lenny Abrahamson. (But not, curiously, for 9-year-old co-star Jacob Tremblay, the movie's centerpiece.)

The Revenant: men in distress.
And while star Brie Larson is poised to win the Best Actress category, what are the chances of this intimate movie prevailing against the turbo-charged, star-driven big boys?

Speaking of acting, diversity watchdogs are complaining that this is the second year in a row when not one person of color was nominated in any of Oscar's acting categories.

You have to go back to 2013 and 2014, when 12 Years A Slave and The Help garnered multiple nominations (including two winners) for their actors. (And maybe in some Utopian future, actors of color will get nominated for playing something other than slaves and housekeepers.)

No gold for La Mirren this year.
There are some other weird choices among the acting noms. Cate Blanchett is nominated for Best Actress in Carol, and co-star Rooney Mara for Supporting Actress, although, arguably, Mara's character is the protagonist through whose viewpoint most of the story plays out.

Ditto Alicia Vikander in The Danish Girl, who, amazingly, is nominated in the Supporting Actress category. I thought her character was the heart of the movie, a woman coming to terms with the husband she loves transgendering into a woman—in the 1920s, when nobody had ever heard of such a thing.

How about a nod to Helen Mirren in Woman In Gold? Or a Supporting nom for Mirren as Hedda Hopper in Trumbo? What about Trumbo? And how is it that Aaron Sorkin, fresh from winning a Golden Globe for his smart, literate script for Steve Jobs, didn't even score a nomination?

Surf on over to IMDb to see the full list of nominations. Read 'em and weep...


  1. Points well taken. But I can understand why "Carol" was shut out of Best Picture category. It was not "best picture" material IMHO. A period piece with a high-profile star. I was so reminded of Joan Crawford while watching Blanchett pose, smoke, drink.

  2. Yes, but look at what so often IS considered "Best Picture" material. I'm just sayin' that with 8 slots to fill in this category, 6 of which are so overwhelmingly guy-oriented, they might have spared one more for the ladies.