The SAG Awards snub of “Selma” probably had more to do with timing than with race (click here for Tom O’Neil‘s analysis of the subject), but its exclusion nevertheless highlights the shocking dearth of minorities in the SAG nominations for film. When it comes to the representation of women, SAG did a little better, but the industry still has plenty of room for improvement.
There are no nonwhite actors nominated in the individual acting categories, which is noteworthy by itself, but if you take a look at the 42 cast members nominated for Best Film Ensemble, only one of them is nonwhite: Tony Revolori (“The Grand Budapest Hotel“); F. Murray Abraham, who plays an older version of the same character in “Grad Budapest,” is half Italian, half Syrian.
This result is uncharacteristic for SAG, which in recent years awarded the cast of “The Help” and nominated “The Butler” and “12 Years a Slave.” So it’s not indicative, I don’t think, of racism within SAG. Rather, it points to the larger problem of a lack of films being made and promoted for awards that feature diverse casts and characters.
Women fared better by sheer virtue of having a presence at all, but there’s still a long way to go for a demographic that makes up roughly half of the population. Of course, half of the individual acting nominees are women, what with categories for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. But consider again the nominees for Best Ensemble.
Only 12 out of the 42 nominated cast members are women (29%). “Grand Budapest” has the largest nominated cast with 17 actors, but only three of those are women, while only one of eight actors cited for “The Imitation Game” is a woman (Keira Knightley); that’s true to the story of “Imitation,” in which Knightley’s character must fight to be respected alongside her male counterparts, but most prestige films this year are similar in the marginal presence of women.
The only Ensemble nominee with a female lead is “The Theory of Everything,” which stars Felicity Jones alongside male co-lead Eddie Redmayne. And only one nominated film has a majority female cast: “Birdman,” which features four women in an ensemble of seven, though that film’s lone protagonist is a man (Michael Keaton).
Women and minorities are better represented on television. Out of the 10 comedies and dramas nominated for Best Ensemble, five have female leads, and that doesn’t count “Modern Family,” which has no central leading role but balances its storylines more or less evenly between its male and female characters. And all but “Downton Abbey” have at least one nonwhite cast member.
Meanwhile, three women of color received individual acting nominations: Viola Davis (Best Drama Actress, “How to Get Away with Murder“), Uzo Aduba (Best Comedy Actress, “Orange is the New Black“), and Cicely Tyson (Best Movie/Miniseries Actress, “The Trip to Bountiful“).
But you don’t even need to consider the entire field of TV nominees. All by itself, “Orange is the New Black,” the Netflix series set in a women’s prison and nominated for Best Comedy Ensemble, boasts 40 cast members and eclipses all film nominees combined in its representation of women and minorities.
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