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Sunday 15 December 2019

Oscars diversity row: Which stars have been snubbed?

Idris Elba in Netflix movie Beasts of No Nation
Idris Elba in Netflix movie Beasts of No Nation
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Following last year's #OscarsSoWhite controversy, in which all the main nominated contenders were white, it had been expected that the Academy would take steps to ensure more diversity this year.

Last year British actor David Oyelowo was overlooked for his stellar performance as Dr Martin Luther King Jr in Selma while Selma director Ava DuVernay was also ignored in the Best Director category.

Unfortunately, black actors have been snubbed for a second year in a row with all of the Best Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress nominees being white.

Jada Pinkett Smith and director Spike Lee have said they will boycott the ceremony on February 28 and it is expected that others may follow suit.

A 2012 study by the Los Angeles Times found that the 6000 members of the Academy are predominantly older white males.

Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who is African American, said, "The Academy is taking dramatic steps to alter the make-up of our membership. In the coming days and weeks we will conduct a review of our membership recruitment in order to bring about much-needed diversity in our 2016 class and beyond."

However, it's too late for this year's crop of actors.  As the debate rages, we take a look at some of the stars who may have been overlooked in this year's nominations. 

Some were shock snubs while others may simply not have hit the notes required to bag an Oscar:

Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation

Elba (43) was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Golden Globe, SAG, and BAFTA awards for his performance in the Netflix original feature so his absence from the Oscars list is glaring.  He was also overlooked in 2013 for his role in Mandel: Long Walk to Freedom.

On Monday Elba spoek to a group of British parliament members about the lack of diversity on screen.

"We need to counter what everybody has, see the lay of the land and see who has which careers in TV—who makes TV, and who is allowed on TV and when they get the opportunity which roles do they play, on and off screen," he said.

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Idris Elba with Abraham Attah in Beasts of No Nation. PIC: Netflix

"You have to ask the question: are black people normally playing petty criminals? Are women always the love interest or talking about men? Are gay people always stereotyped? Are disabled people ever seen at all?"

He explained that he went to America because of its diversity policy but said the problem exists in "the gap between the dream and reality".

"Now the gap is what Martin Luther King set out to fill in his dream. To champion diversity is to champion the American dream," he said.

Will Smith, Concussion

Smith (47) had also been tipped for a Best Actor nod for his turn in Peter Landesman's drama.  The Hollywood Reporter predicted the film "confirms Smith as a serious Best Actor threat."  He was not nominated.

Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith are now boycotting this year's ceremony.

"Maybe it's time we pull back our resources and we put them back into our communities, and we make programs for ourselves that acknowledge us in ways that we see fit, that are just as good as the so-called mainstream," she said in a video on Facebook.

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Will Smith in Concussion

Samuel L Jackson (67), The Hateful Eight

Speaking with ABC News Breakfast, The Hateful Eight director Quentin Tarantino suggested Jackson had been overlooked because Hollywood takes him for granted.

"My only guess, frankly, is that they take him for granted. That would be my only guess," he said.

Samuel L Jackson in Tarantino's The Hateful Eight

Michael B Jordan (28), Creed

Creed has one nomination thanks to Sylvester Stallone (69), the film's main white star.  There was no nomination for star Michael B Jordan although this is hardly surprising given this year's competition - Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant, Michael Fassbender for Steve Jobs, Eddie Redmayne for The Danish Girl, Bryan Cranston for Trumbo and Matt Damon for The Martian.  Jordan gives a solid performance but arguably not quite Oscar-worthy.

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Packing a punch: Silvester Stallone is back as Rocky training Apollo Creed’s son played by Michael B Jordan.

Benicio Del Toro (48), Sicario

Del Toro received rave reviews for his performance in the war-on-drugs drama with many critics tipping him for an Oscar nom.  However, the Puerto Rican star was not shortlisted for Best Supporting Actor as expected.

Benicio Del Toro in Sicario

Straight Outta Compton

The film received a nomination - for its white screenwriters.  However, the film itself had been considered a possible contender for Best Film having racked up numerous nominations from other quarters including the Producers Guild and SAG and rave reviews.  By the same token director F Gary Gray could have been considered in the Best Actor category.

The struggle is real: 'Straight Outta Compton'

Major changes promised amid calls for Oscars boycott over its all-white acting nominees 

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