UPDATE: 5:30 p.m. EST -- Social justice leaders weighed in Thursday on the announcement of the 88th annual Academy Awards nominations, which again included only whites in major categories. In 2015, the Hollywood awards show courted controversy when none of lead actors and supporting actors who received nominations were people of color.
The NAACP, the largest civil rights organization for racial minorities in the U.S., called for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to abandon its "private [and] invitational" membership structure that perpetuates a lack of diversity among those who vote on the nominees.
“It is time for the Academy Awards to be as relevant to the new crop of actors and movie-going audiences as they are to the new movie viewing platforms," the organization said in a statement released Thursday afternoon. Unless the Academy gets serious about diversifying the membership, "we should switch the channel until that old guard can reflect and respect what people of color bring to the table,” the NAACP said.
— NAACP Image Awards (@naacpimageaward) January 14, 2016
The organization also noted that the lack of diversity and recognition for black and Latino performers, directors and screenwriters in Hollywood was the reason it created the NAACP Images Awards 47 years ago. "With the 2016 nomination results, our mission and efforts are as relevant today as they have been in the past," the NAACP's statement reads.
Veteran civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton, who founded the New York City-based National Action Network, on Thursday criticized the Academy nominations and Hollywood in general for benefiting from a "fraudulent image" of progressivism. “Hollywood is like the Rocky Mountains, the higher up you get the whiter it gets and this year’s Academy Awards will be yet another Rocky Mountain Oscars," Sharpton said in a statement. "Yet again, deserving black actors and directors were ignored by the Academy – which reinforces the fact that there are few if any Blacks with real power in Hollywood."
Hollywood has a fraudulent image of progressive and liberal politics and policies. We must take direct action to correct this. Talk is cheap
— Reverend Al Sharpton (@TheRevAl) January 14, 2016
Did Hollywood get whiter over the last 12 months? It was hard for some critics of racial diversity within the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to discern, following Thursday’s announcements of nominations for the 88th Academy Awards.
Similar to last year’s Oscar nominations, not one of the actors or actresses nominated this year is a person of color. Thus, #OscarsSoWhite, the Twitter hashtag created in response to a failure to recognize the work of black and Latino performers in 2015, started trending again.
It's actually worse than last year. Best Documentary and Best Original Screenplay. That's it. #OscarsSoWhite
— April (@ReignOfApril) January 14, 2016
I'm really glad Hollywood took #OscarsSoWhite to heart this year and considered structural racism in awards...oh wait.
— Teej T (@Halfrican_One) January 14, 2016
And Oscars wonder why their viewership was down 18% last year! This all-white nominee things isn't going to fly, Chris Rock notwithstanding!
— Charles M. Blow (@CharlesMBlow) January 14, 2016
Leonardo DiCaprio-helmed film “The Revenant” led this year’s nominations, garnering 12 nods, including Best Actor for his performance. Matt Damon, Michael Fassbender, Eddie Redmayne and Bryan Cranston rounded out the Best Actor category, according to the Associated Press.
The Best Actress nominees include Brie Larson, Jennifer Lawrence, Cate Blanchett, Saoirse Ronan and Charlotte Rampling. Even the best supporting actor and actress categories announced Thursday were entirely comprised of white performers.
Critics found it to be a noticeable snub for the lead actor and director of the film “Creed,” Michael B. Jordan and Ryan Coogler, respectively, who are both African-American. Coogler was not included in the best director nominations, but Sylvester Stallone, who reprised a role from the Rocky film franchise in "Creed," received a best supporting actor nomination.
I can't wait until Michael B. Jordan gets nominated for reprising the role of Creed when he's 70.
— Daniel Kibblesnoke (@kibblesmith) January 14, 2016
The acting categories also snubbed Black British actor Idris Elba for his leading role in the Netflix release, "Beasts of No Nation," and Puerto Rican-American actor Benicio Del Toro for his in "Sicario." Although “Straight Outta Compton,” the blockbuster biopic about African-American gangster rap pioneers N.W.A., received a Best Screenplay nomination, it’s black director, F. Gary Gray, was not included in the best director category.
Last year, Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who is African-American, promised to increase diversity among members who vote on the annual nominations. Boone Isaacs participated in Thursday’s nominee announcement ceremony.
Chris Rock, an African-American comedian, film and TV producer, was slated to host this year’s Academy Awards ceremony Feb. 28. Critics of the nominations were already calling for Rock to make the lack of diversity a staple of his opening monologue.