Hollywood is having an image crisis. The Academy Awards, cinema’s most prestigious accolades, have been the subject of controversy over the past two years for their lack of inclusion of African-American actors, directors, and writers. Many black entertainers announced their boycott of the ceremony, including Will Smith, director Spike Lee, and liberal white filmmaker Michael Moore. While their frustration is understandable, it is also important to point out that they are not the first to be “snubbed” from the coveted award and they will not be the last. Some of the greatest stars and directors of the silver screen have never triumphantly held the golden idol in their hands.
In the pantheon of great filmmakers, there are the likes of Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, and John Ford. All four of them have received at least one Academy Award for Best Director in their careers, but there are some legendary omissions. Alfred Hitchcock director of Psycho, Rope,The Birds, and North by Northwest was nominated on five separate occasions but never received the honor. Can you believe it? Hitchcock.The man who raised moral questions through physiological thrillers and horror films never won. People who complain that the African-American director of Creed or Straight Outta Compton should really be protesting over the obvious omission that one of the most towering figures of cinema never got his due recognition.
He is not the only director to never be honored with an Oscar. Looking past the prequel trilogy, George Lucas was nominated for four Academy Awards but did not win. Opening the world’s eyes to the visual potential of cinema through classic mythological archetypes is worthy of recognition. When Mr. Smith stops complaining about his lack of a nomination for Concussion, we can all agree that Mr. Lucas deserved some recognition for introducing the world to the blockbuster.
In regards to actors, icons such as Cary Grant and Harrison Ford, both of whom carved out their own niche in cinema history, have never received a coveted statute with their name engraved in it. Both received nominations, but they have not translated into an Oscar. Grant and Ford aren’t the only ones who have been neglected: Viola Davis, Tom Cruise,Robert Downey Jr., and Samuel L. Jackson – none have won an Academy Award. Some of the most renowned and beloved actors and actresses of our time have not received the honor of the Academy. Their performances in films such as The Fugitive, Pulp Fiction, North by Northwest, The Help, Top Gun, and Tropic Thunder did not receive the recognition they deserved; however, it is important to protest the fact that Spike Lee’s film Chi-Raq was not nominated for a single award.
While it is understandable that some are frustrated because of the lack of diversity, it is also important to understand thatsometimes not even the best of Hollywood win Oscars. For the people and films that did not get nominated, understand that you are not alone in the search for an Oscar.
We as a culture today are awarded prizes and trophies for participation and finishing tenth place.Not everyone should be honored and not everyone should be singled out. Only the best of the best are honored and for the past two years, the best performances have all happened to be from white actors and actresses.That is not to say that the performances created by minorities were inferior or second rate; it’s just that they were not worthy of winning the highest award. The entertainers of Hollywood,who feel it necessary to boycott the Academy Awards must understand there are plenty of well deserving directors and actors from all races who deserve recognition that have not gotten any (Hitchcock, Ford, Grant, Davis, Neeson, etc.).
Hollywood must once more realize that the filmmaking industry was not built on desperation to win awards, but was built on the audiences that want to be entertained, moved, and enthralled in stories both intimate and epic. No matter where you are, what language you speak, or what you believe, movies capture our imagination and tell incredible stories of the human spirit when it is tested against the greatest odds. We, as audiences around the world, look up at the screen and watch and appreciate the stories and the performances seen on the screen – not the color of the actors’ skin. We appreciate their hard work and dedication to the craft, even if the Academy doesn’t. To actors, directors, screenwriters, producers, and technicians of all colors and races: the opinion and final decisions of the Academy shouldn’t matter as much as the love and admiration of all people who love watching movies. They are not the first, nor will they be the last, people to not be nominated or win a coveted Oscar statuette.It was Straight Outta Compton producer and actor Ice Cube that said it best: “We don’t [make movies] for the industry. We do it for the fans.” Well said, Ice Cube. Well said