Oscars: the ceremony must become gender-neutral according to this cult director

In recent months, we have been talking a lot about Oscars, and for another reason than Will Smith’s slap which has occupied the media space since March. In effect, some Hollywood actors, directors and public figures campaign to change the Oscars so that the latter are more inclusive, or at least, to reduce the barriers between all the actors of the profession.

Oscars: stars campaign for an inclusive ceremony

It’s a secret and it’s even an understatement to say it, but the Oscars are not appreciated by everyone in Hollywood. Among the various reproaches that stars, actors and personalities of the cinema make with the ceremony (and with the AMPAS in a general way), one can quote lack of diversity in appointments (94% of nominees through 2012 were white, 2% black, 2% Hispanic, 77% male, and 54% were over 60), Hollywood isolationism, the active lobbying of the industry or the high concentration of prizes on certain films compared to the absence of great directors and feature films. The most glaring example being Citizen Kaneawarded in 1942 only for its screenplay, but today considered the best film ever made to date. Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, François Truffaut, David Lynch, Ridley Scott, David Cronenberg, Brian de Palma or Ava DuVernay have never even received an Oscar for Best Direction, and some were never nominated.

But things change, and regularly stars try to move the Oscars ceremony forward for the better. Last November, Emma Corrin (Diana Spencer in The Crown) spoke to the BBC about the importance of having gender-neutral awards at the Oscars. The star who identifies as non-binary explains that she felt a certain uneasiness during her nomination (and her victory) at the Golden Globes 2021 in the category Best Actress in a series. Following the same movement, Sam Mendes, English director of the excellent American Beauty and 1917 in turn spoke on the subject this week in an interview with the BBC. According to him, creating a non-gendered category will become “inevitable”:

I have a lot of sympathy with that idea, yes. I think that’s even a very good thing. This will be inevitable in the future. Currently [les cérémonies] go in this direction and it is quite reasonable. For me, people quickly forget the rewards. This serves primarily as an indicator for the film industry. The truth is that these ceremonies, Oscars, BAFTAs… are mostly TV shows. They are used to promote films. If one of them wins a prize, I’d be more likely to go see it. It’s not about the art or craft of cinema. It’s about selling movies. I even hope for a future where [l’ouverture des barrières entre les catégories d’acteurs] gone happen. I don’t think the categories are inclusive enough at this time. A simple nomination for Best Male or Female ROLE would be a good start, rather than Best Male/Female Actor.

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How to make these ceremonies inclusive?

Thereby, Sir Sam Mendes (knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2019) defends Emma Corrin in his remarks aimed at changing the Oscars. These speeches are not shots in the water. Since 2016, they have taken into account the opinions of Hollywood film actors and actresses to develop their ceremony and the way of awarding the prizes. In 2018, they renewed the jury team after the #MeToo scandals and those of the Harvey Weinstein affair. In 2024, four new criteria will be imperatively retained to compete in the category of the best film, with figures arbitrarily chosen as the Americans know how to do it so well.. The first is on-screen diversity, requiring 30% representation of supporting characters from underrepresented groups or one significant supporting character who identifies with them (women, ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, or LGBTQI+ people). The second looks at the diversity within the film’s creative team on the same criteria. The third will respect equal opportunities, aiming for respect in hiring with internships and apprenticeships. The last point will concern the marketing of the filmwhere studios and distributors will need to have managers from these underrepresented groups.

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Oscars: the ceremony must become gender-neutral according to this cult director