Two years ago, the #OscarsSoWhite campaign sent ripples of change throughout Hollywood and forced the film industry’s ruling class to come to grips with its own lack of diversity. In response, then Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs launched an initiative to invite over 400 new, younger, and more diverse members into the Academy to counterbalance the historically old, white, and male voting bloc. This week, 14 anonymous new voters spoke candidly with Vulture about how their inclusion in the process has effected Hollywood’s biggest night.
“With Get Out, Lady Bird, and even Call Me By Your Name, you’re feeling the younger demographic,” said one voter, referring to the noticeable shift away from traditional Oscar bait to films that are told from more diverse cultural perspectives. Another voter highlighted the conscious effort to recognize those voices that haven’t been heard before (like first-time directors Jordan Peele and Greta Gerwig) and maybe pump the brakes on awarding someone who’s been there before (like Christopher Nolan and Steven Spielberg). “Maybe we need to give someone else a chance,” she said.
Still, some may be surprised by the opinions of these new, less white, less male voters. For instance, a few of the female voters weren’t completely sold on Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird as a Best Picture film. “[Greta] should be insanely proud of herself. Is it Oscar-worthy? I don’t know. The same with Dee [Rees]. Is Mudbound Oscar-worthy? No, but it’s good,” one voter told Vulture. A few others agreed and wondered whether the buzz surrounding Lady Bird had more to do with people being “so desperate to find women directors.”
When it comes to Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, a film that has spent award season going through cycles of backlash and backlash-backlash, the voters seem unfazed. While many have claimed the film’s handling of Sam Rockwell’s racist cop character is problematic at best, one black voter said the film was his “favorite” and it would be getting his number-one slot for Best Picture. “I believe there are racists and morons and dangerous people, and still at the end of the day, they’re people,” said another voter, a person of color, who didn’t think Rockwell’s character needed any more or less of a redemption arc than the film gave him. “It can remain complex and a head-scratcher.”
In general, these voters emphasized their desire to stay away from “hot take” culture and any social-media fervor surrounding these films so that they can look at them objectively. At the same time, they’re conscious of their role in a post-#OscarsSoWhite Hollywood that’s actively working towards inclusion and diversity on all fronts. As one voter put it, “One vote is not a lot. But one vote can make a change.”
You can read Vulture’s full interview with the new Academy voters here.
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