The Academy’s invites from last year resulted in some interesting and unpredictable choices, including the Best Picture win for Moonlight. I knew it would have an impact but I wasn’t sure if it would be evident in one cycle. You have to figure that new members are going to be taking their votes more seriously than the old members who tended not to vote in certain categories just out of habit.
The Academy is trying to even out the percentage of women and now it’s reached 39%.
People of color, with the new membership, make up 30%.
Overall, the Academy and the film industry are dominated by white males – that means those who make the movies and the subjects of those movies tend to be dudes. But change is in the air. Get Out made an astonishing $175 million on a $15 million budget. Wonder Woman is at around $300 million. Both of these seem to discount the notion that only one demographic can deliver at the box office.
Ideally, the Academy represents the highest achievement in film in a given year. There are already a few films that certainly earn the title. Get Out, Okja, The Big Sick and yes, Wonder Woman. Unreleased War for the Planet of the Apes is another. We don’t know where this year will end up yet, or whether any of these films will be remembered. But shaking things up in the Academy will probably help them to stay relevant in the coming years. The Academy Awards are just shy of being 100 years old and have seen very few changes in the kinds of films they reward. If they expanded their Best Picture list to ten rather than five nominees – you would see even bigger changes. Whether or they decide to do that is a different question.