Why Are #OscarsSoWhite?

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The answer to the question in the headline is easy: because Academy voters are mostly white senior citizens (94 percent white, average age 63) and their taste tends to be pretty conventional for white folks born in 1952. At least that’s what all the critics say. This explains, they say, why a great film like Straight Outta Compton didn’t get nominated. A bunch of old white guys just aren’t going to be moved by a film about an angry group of black gangsta rappers.

But what about the critics themselves? According to Hayley Munguia of FiveThirtyEight, here are the 20 films from 2015 that showed up on the most “Best Of” lists. The movies in red got Oscar nods:

Where’s Straight Outta Compton? Not in the top 20.1 Apparently the critics are a bunch of old white guys too.

Next up: maybe Munguia will compile similar lists for the acting categories. Who did the critics love? Did Idris Elba make the top 20? Michael Jordan? Tessa Thompson? O’Shea Jackson Jr? Teyonah Parris? I’m curious about whether the critics ought to be examining themselves as much as they’re examining the Academy.

1Only two movies not in the top 20 got Best Picture nominations. Revenant may have gotten released too late to make many lists. And Bridge of Spies didn’t deserve to be in the top 20, but probably got nominated because everyone loves Tom Hanks.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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