Diversity in the Oscars still a work in progress

Adrienne Oliva, Staff Writer

For the last 6 years, I have guessed the winner of The Oscars’ Best Picture award correctly.

You may be wondering how I’ve done this. It’s not because I’m a movie expert, or that I’m lucky. In the words of Billy Zane from “Titanic,” the 1998 Best Picture winner: “Real men make their own luck.”

Though I am not a man, my secret lies in thinking like one. In order to predict the winner of The Oscars, I try to think like the average Oscar voter: a 63-year-old white man.

According to a 2016 survey of the 6,261 voting members of the Academy Awards, 76 percent of the voters are male and 91 percent are white, with the average age of this group being 63. If you want to know who will win, pick a movie an older white man would like.

My best example of my prediction method in action is the 2015 Best Picture winner, “Birdman.” I knew it would be the winner without even seeing the film. “Birdman” stars a relatable character to the average Oscar voter: a 60-year-old white man in the entertainment industry.

Though my ability to predict Oscar winners is monotonously reliable, I hope that my method will soon be useless. My wish is that The Oscars will become an inclusive event that celebrates the accomplishments of all different identities in the film industry.

Perhaps we are getting closer to a more inclusive award ceremony, after all. This year’s Oscars offers a far more diverse list of nominees than last year’s controversial list.

This could be The Oscars’ response to the #oscarssowhite movement during 2016. This movement was in response to the second consecutive year that all four acting categories were exclusively filled with white nominees. Not only did the hashtag gain major attention, but major celebrities like Spike Lee and Will Smith boycotted the ceremony entirely.
Hopefully, those on the committee of the Academy Awards learned a lesson: their audience wants diversity.

The Oscars is the most prominent film award event in this country, and in many other countries as well. The significance of diversity expands past the receiver of the award, but also to the audience watching. It’s not only vital that people with diverse identities receive the acclimation they deserve, but it’s equally important in terms of representation. It’s important to show to a younger audience that successful people in film are not just white, male, straight, and cisgender.

To honor what I hope is the beginning of The Oscars journey into becoming more inclusive, I’ve decided to use a new method to choose my Best Picture prediction. This year, I’m actually going to choose the movie I think is best. I think the winner of the 2017 Best Picture award will be the film “Moonlight,” a gorgeous film following a queer African American man through three different stages in his life.