Benedict Cumberbatch, Eddie Redmayne and other white people kindly welcome you to the whitest Oscars since 1998. Yes, unfortunately, you read that right: Without a nod for David Oyelowo announced this morning (see white person Brad Pitt for help on that pronunciation) 2015 will be the worst year for diversity in Hollywood since the 70th annual ceremony.
This is especially troubling when you consider that last year's Oscars was a banner year, with a Best Supporting Actress award for Lupita Nyong'o and Steve McQueen taking home the Best Picture title as producer for "12 Years a Slave." "Selma" is nominated in that category this year, so we may have a victory for Ava DuVernay's film, but that nod -- and another "Selma" nomination for Best Original Song -- hardly counts as redemption here. As Chris Rock can tell you, the industry is far too uniform, but at least one black, Hispanic, Latino, Asian or Iranian actor* has been nominated each year in the four acting categories since nearly two decades ago. Here's the whole list:
Lupita Nyong'o, Barkhad Abdi and Chiwetel Ejiofor
Denzel Washington and Quevenzhane Wallis
Demian Bichir, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer
Javier Bardem and Hailee Steinfeld
Gabourey Sidibe, Monique, Penelope Cruz and Morgan Freeman
Taraji P. Henson
Ruby Dee and Javier Bardem
Forest Whitaker, Will Smith, Djimon Honsou, Eddie Murphy, Jennifer Hudson, Adriana Barraza, Penelope Cruz and Rinko Kikuchi
Jamie Foxx, Don Cheadle, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Sophie Okonedo, Morgan Freeman and Jamie Foxx
Djimon Honsou, Ken Watanabe, Benicio del Toro and Shohreh Aghdashloo
Salma Hayek and Queen Latifah
Denzel Washington, Will Smith, Halle Berry and Ben Kingsley
Javier Bardem and Benicio del Toro
Denzel Washington and Michael Clarke Duncan
... no one
(Burt Reynolds, a nominee at the 1998 ceremony, has been cited as having some Native American ancestry, though that is not confirmed. Before 1998, the last Oscars broadcast without any diversity was 1995.)
Predictions that this would be a particularly pale year sprung up after Vulture's Kyle Buchanan provided a preemptive warning for what we could expect from the "overwhelmingly white" group of males that comprises the Academy. (The hashtag #oscarssowhite blew up on Twitter following Thursday's nominations.)
And CNN's David Daniel tweeted, the lack of diversity for this year's nominees was widespread:
— David Daniel (@CNNLADavid) January 15, 2015
Speaking to Vulture after the Oscar nominations were revealed, Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs said the group did not have a diversity problem. "The good news is that the wealth of talent is there, and it's being discussed, and it's helpful so much for talent -- whether in front of the camera or behind the camera -- to have this recognition, to have this period of time where there is a lot of publicity, a lot of chitter-chatter," Isaacs said.
Unfortunately, it didn't translate into results. If there's a lesson to be learned here it's that we have a long way to go before we can truly talk about progress being made. Also: this sucks.
This post has been updated to include mention of Burt Reynolds.
*CORRECTION: An earlier version of this piece grouped all the previously nominated actors together by using the term "non-white."