To boycott the Oscars or not – that is the question


Photo from The Academy’s official Facebook page.

Jesse De Mercurio

See video at end of story for student responses.

It’s the biggest night of the year for Hollywood. A red carpet is rolled out. Press set up hours ahead of time. Stars we mere mortals can only dream about get decked out in the finest attire money can buy before making their way to the Dolby Theatre for an entire night dedicated to action, romance, comedy, drama – all the things that make movies great.

The Academy Awards, more commonly known as the Oscars, will return for its 88th awards show this Sunday, but not without a healthy dose of controversy. For the second year running, no actors of color were nominated in any of the major acting categories and the rest of the nominees in the other categories (ranging from music to editing to directing and beyond) are overwhelmingly male. The eight Best Picture nominees feature slightly more diversity in regards to gender…with one caveat – a whole lot of white people.

Many people (high-profile stars such as George Clooney, Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, Matt Damon, Halle Berry, Lupita Nyong’o and even the president) have weighed in on the controversy. Jada Pinkett-Smith has called for a complete boycott of the Oscars. Shortly after the nominations were announced in January, #OscarsSoWhite began trending worldwide.

All of this puts the Academy in a very bad light. Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the Academy’s president, said in an official statement, “This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes. The Academy is taking dramatic steps to alter the makeup of our membership.” Here’s hoping the Academy gets its act together before next year’s awards.

Who is up for these awards though?

The first category is arguably the most sought-after award of the night. It (at least according to the Academy) decides the best of the best. They tugged at our heartstrings, made us laugh, cry and pissed all at once. These are the movies that make people love movies.

Best Picture nominees are:

· “The Big Short

· “Bridge of Spies

· “Brooklyn

· “Mad Max: Fury Road

· “The Martian

· “The Revenant

· “Room

· “Spotlight

One of the next two biggest awards, Best Actor and Actress, comes with a little bit of drama. Leonardo DiCaprio has been nominated five times before for an Oscar, once as Best Supporting Actor, three times as Best Actor and once for Best Picture for “The Wolf of Wall Street”, for which he was a producer. He’s nominated again this year for Best Actor for his role in “The Revenant.” Will this be Leo’s year?

Best Actor in a Leading Role nominees are:

· Bryan Cranston, Trumbo

· Matt Damon,The Martian

· Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

· Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs

· Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

Best Actress in a Leading Role nominees are:

· Cate Blanchett, Carol

· Brie Larson,Room

· Jennifer Lawrence, Joy

· Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years

· Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Now that we’ve got our leading ladies and gentlemen out of the way, we can focus on the men and women who may not appear on screen as much, but when they do, they steal the show.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role nominees are:

· Christian Bale,The Big Short

· Tom Hardy,The Revenant

· Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight

· Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies

· Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Best Actress in a Supporting Role nominees are:

· Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight

· Rooney Mara, Carol

· Rachel McAdams, Spotlight

· Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

· Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Tune in to ABC on Sunday, Feb. 28, at 4 p.m. to see which star takes home the gold statue. Or boycott like Mr. and Mrs. Smith. It’s up to you.

Jesse De Mercurio can be reached at [email protected] or @Jesse_Elena on Twitter.