One of the laudable ways social media has had real-world consequences is in how the #OscarsSoWhite provided a wake-up call that an Academy membership that was older, white, and male had failed to adequately recognize diverse movies. In response, the Academy worked hard to expand the number of women and people of color in their ranks, and slowly but surely, they’re making progress. In 2015, women only made up a quarter of the Academy. Half of the new members of 2019 are women. In 2015, a shocking 8% of the Academy was people of color. Now 29% of 2019’s new members are people of color.
Could the Academy do better? Of course, but I like that they’re making strides towards improvement. Will that have an effect on which movies win Oscars? Yes and no! This year, a record number of black women won Oscars taking home Best Supporting Actress (Regina King), Best Costume Design (Ruth E. Carter), and Production Design (Hannah Beachler). But this was also the year where Green Book, a movie that believes racism is interpersonal rather than systemic, took home Best Picture because it makes white people feel good about race.
So will these changing demographics shape future winners, or are we looking at more Green Books in our future? It’s difficult to say. Keep in mind that in the last four years, Best Picture winners have also included Moonlight and The Shape of Water, two movies that didn’t fit a traditional “Best Picture” mold. So perhaps movies like that are the way of the future rather than Green Book. It will be interesting to see which movies take home Best Picture over the next few years and if they trend towards more thoughtful, representative movies, or if the backlash to those kinds of movies wins out.
Click here for a full list of the new members, which includes Tom Holland, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, and many more. The Oscars will take place on February 23, 2020.