Oscars Do-Over: How We'd Change the Awards

Posted by Brad Schelden, January 22, 2016 04:18pm | Post a Comment

Sylvester Stallone and Michael B. Jordan in Creed

Brad: Some of us take the Oscars very seriously. Probably more serious than they should be taken. But The Academy Awards really do mean something.

They validate actors and actresses and make them feel special. But they also reward the films and roles that we as fans find important. It really does mean something to see somebody who looks like you win an award. Or to have somebody play a role that looks like you.

It was important for Brokeback Mountain to get a best picture nomination in 2005. It really did mean something as a gay man to see a movie like that get nominated. I am certainly not a gay cowboy. But I will take what I can get.

Billy: Are you sure you’re not a gay cowboy? But yes, I agree. Of course Crash ended up winning over Brokeback Mountain, and that movie was just so-so, but we digress.

Brad: I still remember when John Singleton got nominated for Best Director and Best Screenplay in 1991 for Boyz n the Hood. I remember thinking back then that times were changing! This was 25 years ago, and times have still not changed much. They have changed a bit. But in the last couple of years, we seem to be going backwards.

Billy: It’s a lot like what has happened this year with Straight Outta Compton. The film landed on several year-end top 10 lists, including coming in at No. 6 on Rolling Stone’s. That list also included Tangerine, a film a lot of people loved that was shot on iPhones and starred two transgender actresses. But I guess Tangerine getting nominated would have been a miracle.

Brad: It still makes me upset that Boyz n the Hood didn't get nominated for Best Picture in 1991. It most certainly would have been nominated if there had been 10 films. Having 10 films usually solves some problems with the Academy. Movies about women and minorities always have a better chance to get in the race for best picture if you give someone 10 choices. The films of 1991 nominated were The Silence of the Lambs, Bugsy, JFK, Beauty and the Beast and The Prince of Tides. It was an exciting year to have a horror film win Best Picture. And it was great to see an animated film nominated for best picture. But it was a very white year. With five more, we could have had Boyz n the Hood, Barton Fink, Fried Green Tomatoes, Thelma & Louise and The Fisher King

The easiest thing that The Academy can do is up the Best Picture category back to 10. They can make their members each pick 10 films, or let them pick between five and 10. It is really ridiculous for these members to not be able to pick 10 great films every year. They simply are not seeing enough movies if they can't find 10. One way to make them pick 10 would be to threaten to kick them out if they can't pick 10 films. They are clearly not a relevant member of the Academy if they can't think of 10 films in one entire year.

Most Oscar bloggers and fans of the Oscars have been advocating for this for years. When you pick 10 films as opposed to five, you are almost always going to get a more diverse list of films. It would also help diversity to increase the acting categories to six or seven actors and actresses.

Billy: That strategy was successful a few years back. The first year they did it since the '40s, in 2009, films with diverse casts like Precious and The Blind Side and We also finally saw a Pixar movie get nominated for Best Picture that year — Up, which, to me, was the best film of that year. Things got pretty white again after that, but still, with nine nominees, 2012 saw films like Django Unchained, Beasts of the Southern Wild and Life of Pi receive a nomination. With at least nine nominees, it’s not hard to picture Straight Outta Compton or Creed making the list. Or, at the very least, Carol, which seems ridiculous to have not been nominated, given its acclaim — the film came in at No. 1 on reviews aggregator Metacritic’s top films of 2015, so there’s really no excuse.

Brad: So here is what the Oscars could look like this year with 10 best picture nominees, seven picks in the other major categories and some different choices. (Additional or alternate picks are listed in bold.)

Best Picture:

The Revenant

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian


The Big Short




Straight Outta Compton


Todd Haynes, director of Carol

Best Director:

Alejandro Inarritu (The Revenant)

George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Adam McKay (The Big Short)

Todd Haynes (Carol)

Ridley Scott (The Martian)

Ryan Coogler (Creed)

Cary Fukunaga (Beasts of No Nation)


Best Actor:

Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)

Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs)

Matt Damon (The Martian)

Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)

Michael B. Jordan (Creed)

Abraham Attah (Beasts of No Nation)

Geza Rohrig (Son of Saul)


Best Actress:

Brie Larson (Room)

Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn)

Cate Blanchett (Carol)

Charlotte Rampling (45 Years)

Charlize Theron (Mad Max)

Bel Powley (The Diary of a Teenage Girl)

Mya Taylor (Tangerine)

Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation

Best Supporting Actor:

Sylvester Stalllone (Creed)

Christian Bale (The Big Short)

Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation)

Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina)

Jacob Tremblay (Room)

Jason Mitchell (Straight Outta Compton)

Benicio Del Toro (Sicario)


Best Supporting Actress:

Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight)

Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)

Rooney Mara (Carol)

Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina)

Tessa Thompson (Creed)

Sarah Paulson (Carol)

Julie Walters (Brooklyn)


Brad: Producers, directors and casting directors can all be doing more. You certainly can't get nominated for something if you are not cast in it. There are an amazing amount of actors and actresses out there that are not white. Hopefully we can see some of these actors nominated and win some Oscars in the next couple of years. Some of them already have. But they are few and far between. I would love to see actresses like Halle Berry, Angela Bassett, Kerry Washington, Laurence Fishburne, Gabourey Sidibe, Don Cheadle, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson and Viola Davis return to movies. They are all making great television, but people should be writing film roles for them. Hopefully Salma Hayek, Lupita Nyong'o, Penelope Cruz, Mo'Nique, Octavia Spencer, Rinko Kikuchi, Michael B. Jordan, Javier Bardem, Jennifer Hudson, Demian Bichir, Chiwetel Ejiofor, David Oyelowo, John Boyega, Dijmon Hounsou, Will Smith, Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, Gabrielle Union, Jeffrey Wright, Samuel L. Jackson, Jamie Foxx and Donald Glover can get some of the good roles usually reserved for white actors.

Billy: Today, the Academy announced they are making some changes to double its numbers of women and diverse members by 2020. So with any luck, we’ll actually see some of these changes in the next few years.


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