As Sarah just wrote in her main post about the Oscar nominations today, it was a lot of Barbie disrespect. Pink is clearly not the Academy’s colour. And neither is purple. Oprah has been out here wearing the sh-t out of all those purple dresses and in the end, there is only one nomination for The Color Purple – Danielle Brooks in the Best Supporting Actor category. 


Fantasia Barrino did not make it in for Best Actress and the film did not make the cut for Best Picture. 


I saw The Color Purple over the holidays and I texted Sarah immediately afterwards to tell her how impressed I was by the film. It looks great, the set pieces are amazing, the acting is killer, it’s ambitious and joyful and a necessary story and a lot stronger in my opinion than a couple of the films that were nominated for Best Picture but the difference is, beyond the obvious, that the Academy has a certain, um, taste. You could say that their taste looks backwards. The kinds of films they prefer are the ones that would have played well in the 70s. And so, here we are, yet again wrestling with an institution that is so slow to change, it could hurt itself in the long run. 


Like The Color Purple, May December was also overlooked. The film earned a nomination in the Original Screenplay category but Charles Melton has been left off the ballot. And yes, it’s a snub. Because the critical acclaim for his performance was loud. He won the Gotham Award, he was nominated for a Golden Globe and a Critics Choice Award, and he was campaigning, he was out there hustling. But in the end, he still wasn’t able to pull enough support from the actors branch in the Academy the way America Ferrera was able to with neither a SAG nor a BAFTA nomination. In fact, May December as a whole, with two Oscar winners, Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman, didn’t seem to register with the Academy. Perhaps it’s because Charles is so new to this particular corner of the celebrity ecosystem. 

That same lack of experience and profile also hurt Greta Lee. Past Lives is nominated for Best Picture. Celine Song is nominated for Best Original Screenplay. And yet the heart and the soul of the film, the person who is onscreen the most, the actor who grounds the story, was overlooked. In this situation, I can’t help but think about Andrea Riseborough last year, who came out of nowhere to secure a Best Actress nomination after the white women in Hollywood rallied behind her even though she and her film, To Leslie, were never part of the award season conversation. 


Past Lives WAS, though. People have been talking about Past Lives for a year, ever since it premiered at Sundance. But Greta Lee isn’t part of that club. She wasn’t taken under the big wing of all those white women who banded together in the group chat, or wherever it is that they decide on their popularity contests, and singled out for consideration by committee. 

Same goes for Ava DuVernay’s Origin. I posted last week about Angelina Jolie throwing her support behind the film in the late stages of the nomination period but Angelina is one white woman. And she’s not a white woman who’s a member of the Hollywood sorority. So to go back to the question I asked at the time: does the grassroots Oscar campaign effort only pay off for white artists? We all know the answer, right?