Controversy followed the recent Oscar nominations, as an almost all white slate of nominees were announced, once again providing a glaring problem in the Academy’s membership. The Academy quickly moved to ameliorate the problem, promising to select far more female and minority members by 2020, and slowly but surely phasing out the predominately white male membership that’s dominated the Academy since its foundation. However, fixing the Academy doesn’t fix a bigger problem: people of color still do not have the opportunities to star or make some of the biggest films every year.
Let’s look at the top-10 highest grossing films of all time. Only Furious 7 was directed by a non-white male. The other nine were directed by white men. Two of the bigger pictures of the year–albeit not in the top-10–were directed by African-Americans. F. Gary Gray directed Straight Outta Compton, both critically-acclaimed and a box office hit and Ryan Coogler directed Creed, which helped pump fresh blood into the sagging Rocky franchise. Coogler’s success with Creed landed him the job directing Marvel’s Black Panther movie, due out in 2018.
However, when you scroll through some of the bigger films of the year, you realize that Gray and Coogler are joined by few other directors of color. If the Oscars have a color problem, Hollywood does even more so. Yes, the Oscars need to be more inclusive and must broaden its membership to ensure that the entire spectrum of film each year is considered for awards, but the film industry itself must do a better job to ensure minorities have opportunities to direct big, prestige films, you know, the ones that tend to be nominated for Oscars.