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In Defense of the Oscar Nominations

The first time I ever became invested in the Oscar nominations was in 2015. “Oscars so white” was trending on every social media app and the outrage over the lack of diversity in the nominations was so loud that I couldn’t help but pay attention. It can often feel that not much has changed since that year of outrage; representation in media still lacks so much depth and most media companies have only given us empty promises about diversity and representation. Yet, I know that there’s still so many of us fighting and creating so that our stories can be told. However, if we’re being honest, it does feel like white women and the demand for white women representation often takes over discussions about whether we are seeing proper representation in media.

Which brings me to the Oscar nominations that were announced on January 23rd. This particular awards season was meant to be exciting; there were quite a few diverse films within the conversation that surrounded nominations. It was thrilling to watch so many actors of color being included in the Roundtables, Actors on Actors, etc. I logged into Twitter, (I won’t call it X and you can’t make me) a few hours after the nominations had been announced and there was chaos everywhere. Before I could see who made it, I was bombarded by outrage over the fact that Margot Robbie was not nominated in the Best Actress category and Greta Gerwig was not nominated for Best Director.

There’s an entire group of people that must have missed that America Ferrera, who co-starred in Barbie alongside Margot Robbie, was on the list for Best Supporting Actress alongside Danielle Brooks and Da’Vine Joy Randolph. Not only that but, Sterling K. Brown, Lily Gladstone, Beck G, Colman Domingo and Jeffrey Wright were also among the nominated. There is so much talent that deserves a chance at the spotlight in this year’s nominations and instead of celebrating them, we’re stuck in this never-ending discourse cycle that centers two white women that so many of you think have been wronged.

If anybody has a question about what exactly “white feminism” means, they should venture onto Twitter or TikTok to see what the main conversation point is surrounding yesterday’s nominations. It is infuriating that instead of celebrating her journey to this moment and being asked about her impactful career, America Ferrera is instead being asked about Greta and Margot’s snubs. The fact that even when she finally makes it into these spaces, her story and her voice isn’t being centered makes me want to scream. It is a disservice to not only her talent, but I could almost guarantee that Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie are somewhere out there looking for a cute little rock to hide under. The thing is, they weren’t even really snubbed, some may say that Margot Robbie got one of the most important nominations of them all. As a producer of the film, if Barbie wins Best Picture so does … you guessed it, Margot Robbie.

Another sign that this has white feminism written all over it is the fact that I don’t see the same kind of outrage over the fact that Celine Song (Best Director) and Greta Lee (Best Actress) weren’t nominated for Past Lives. Where’s the outrage for the two women who brought us one of the most moving and beautiful films of this generation? Why isn’t Hilary Clinton making statements about them? We all know the answer to that and I fear I may never forgive you guys for not allowing the nominees to have their moment to shine.

America Ferrera, gave the monologue of her life in Barbie. Da’Vine Joy Randolph in The Holdovers reminded us how important it is to tell all stories, which includes those of the every day Black woman. Sterling K. Brown was extraordinary, as he usually is, in American Fiction. Lily Gladstone gave us a subtle and moving performance in Killers of the Flower Moon. Colman Domingo is all charisma and spark in Rustin. Jeffrey Wright has been giving us consistently moving and perfect performances throughout his career and it’s only been confirmed with what he does in American Fiction. Danielle Brooks in The Color Purple was the only performance that made me laugh and the very next second made me ugly sob and impacted me in ways that I’m still discovering.

I am choosing to celebrate the people that were nominated, because every single one of them deserves it. Their talent deserves the moment in the spotlight and we should allow them to relish in it.