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Would SHORT LISTS help solve the Academy’s diversity problem?

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  • benutty
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    #212233

    One of the great things about the Documentary and Foreign Language categories (as well as the shorts) is that the branches produce short lists which effectively narrows down the field to a manageable number. Manageable in the sense that voters will have time to see all (or close to all) of the remaining contenders so that they can make the most informed decision.

    Without short lists in Picture, Director, acting, writing, etc., busy members with very little time are left without firm guidance on what they should catch up on before they vote. Instead the short listing duties are essentially left to pre-cursor awards. Voters probably — who’s to say they actually do — look over the AFI, Critics Choice, NYFCC, LAFC, Globes, etc. lists and say “oh okay I guess should watch this.” This system is already limiting the Academy to what non-members have to say about film, almost ensuring that the Academy chooses what’s already been chosen.

    My solution? The Academy determines its own short lists. Here’s how:

    6,200 people, collectively, will always produce a palatable, generic, boring list of films & nominees. Always. Increase that number and it gets worse. Only in small groups can individuals make their own voice heard. That’s why Cannes juries are able to produce diverse choices every year while also maintaining a sense of tradition and vision when you look at their history. This is also why the Foreign Language committees are able to produce diverse choices every year.

    Each year the Academy should select (perhaps they’d rather elect?) juries to narrow fields down to a short list, announced some time in mid-December before the general nomination process even begins. For Best Picture, for example, maybe they produce a short list of 20 or 25. There’s no way in hell there isn’t a diverse group of nominees there. There’s no way in hell animated films, foreign films, documentaries and other non-traditional films aren’t included. In fact, why not mandate that they include those types of films?

    Let’s go further. Why don’t we have the actors branch do the same for the acting categories? Elect juries in each category–maybe have last year’s winner in that category preside over it (lol kind of like Miss America, they have duties as winner!). Narrow those fields down to 15 each. 

    The point would be that voters are given better guidance and more diverse options of what to pay attention to before casting their own ballots. It also provides an opportunity for an off-the-grid old white guy member that maybe WANTS to vote for non-white actors, but doesn’t know himself where to look for them. Give him a multicultural list of 15 people in each category and he suddenly has his answer and can make a more informed decision, as can every voter.

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    ETPhoneHome
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    #212235

    I do like this idea, in part because it would extend the process sufficiently which would discourage the January release date strategy that always irks me. It would also change release dates for the serious films that don’t know if they’ll get Oscar attention, and can go wide in the spring, or even in February, the cinematic dead zone.
    From the Oscars perspective, I can see how this could be more limiting to lesser known contenders, as there may be more name-checking in a juried system if they’re all connected to the industry in some way. I do think there would need to be a write in option on the actual ballot, once there is an inevitable snub that gets a lot of attention. All in all though, it does seem like a good idea.

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    Rooney Moore
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    #212236

    6,200 people, collectively, will always produce a palatable, generic, boring list of films & nominees. Always. Increase that number and it gets worse. Only in small groups can individuals make their own voice heard. That’s why Cannes juries are able to produce diverse choices every year while also maintaining a sense of tradition and vision when you look at their history. This is also why the Foreign Language committees are able to produce diverse choices every year.

    This is a very, very good point. And I absolutely love this idea.

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    benutty
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    #212237

    ^^^ yesssss write-ins. Didn’t think of that, but of course. Love it.

    I disagree, though, that it is “more limiting to lesser known contenders” mostly because this is already a problem. A short list doesn’t narrow the chances for any film more than one announcement of 5-10 nominees does.

    In fact, I think it HELPS dark horse contenders because it a) validates their presence in the race in the eyes of skeptical voters and b) provides voters an opportunity to rally behind their faves and c) gives their studio the courage to mount a better campaign for them.

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    Anonymous
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    #212238

    Short lists would give false hope for actors. I don’t think it’s a good idea at all.

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    Sagand
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    #212239

    It would be ironic after a Bafta sold it’s uniqueness away to become another Oscar precursor if Oscar were to move to the longlist system. 

    I also believe part of the problem is too many films having releases at the end of December. I think there should be a rule either you should have opened by the start of December or have a wide release during December. Get rid of one week qualifying runs and make sure the audience / voters can see the films.

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    Anonymous
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    #212240

    Not solve, no.
    Pretty sure the shortlists would be dominantly white, and a typical year would only be as diverse as many of the years have been this century.
    The industry changing would be necessary for anything to be close to “solved.” 

    I mean, I suppose if a list had just non non-white contender, a number of voters could feel pressured to automatically vote for that person even without liking them just to not feel racist. But is that a great thing? 

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    benutty
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    #212241

    I mean, I suppose if a list had just non non-white contender, a number of voters could feel pressured to automatically vote for that person even without liking them just to not feel racist. But is that a great thing? 

    I mean, let’s take this year for example.

    If BP was narrowed down to a short list of 20 films, it’s safe to assume that Straight Outta Compton, Creed, Beasts of No Nation, Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Hateful Eight would have made it–all with non-white leads. Maybe Chi-Raq gets a chance. Or Dope.

    If Actor was narrowed down to a short list of 15 men, I think we probably would have seen Michael B. Jordan, Abraham Attah, Will Smith and Samuel L. Jackson all make the list. Maybe John Boyega gets a spot.

    Supporting Actor? Idris Elba, Benicio Del Toro both make the cut.

    Actress? Maybe Regina Case makes the cut or one of the fantastic girls in Mustang. Maybe Teyonah Parris has a shot. Maybe Well GO gives The Assassin a campaign and Shu Qi makes the cut.

    Supporting Actress? Jennifer Hudson, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Angela Bassett, Gugu Mbatha-Raw.

    You see, the problem that a short list solves is that it expands the idea of what/who is deserving of a campaign. Few of the people/films listed above were given strong campaigns because they never believed themselves to be able to crack a nomination list of 5. Tell them there’s a short list of 15 or 20 and suddenly the studios have a list they believe they can get their films and actors into. Make that hurdle and then move on to the next one–getting nominated–where you can re-up your campaign with the strength and word-of-mouth of having been shortlisted.

    It changes everything. And quickly.

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    PoweR
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    #212242

    So, something like a blue ribbon panel a la the Grammys? The committee decided to make a blue ribbon panel where they cut a long list to 25 and choose from that batch. This was in response to the 1995 Grammys when Tony Bennett undeservedly won AOTY and the other nominees were very middle-of-the-road.

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    Anonymous
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    #212243

    You can believe in those names but it doesn’t necessarily mean all of them would have even made a shortlist. I would say most would not. 

    I mean, based on the Indiewire poll of critics, who have seen a wider selection of films and would in theory then be able to see diversity, there are about 2 non-white people in their T15 for each acting category. 

    And if you look at the 5 people in each category they gave the most #1 votes to, you’d have:
    Actress – Rampling, Ronan, Hoss, Larson, Blanchett or Theron
    Actor – Fassbender, Rohrig, DiCaprio, Abbott, Mendolsohn 
    S Actress – Stewart, Vikander, Nixon, Mara, Leigh
    S Actor – Stallone, Rylance, Isaac, Del Toro, Dano  
    A few non-whites in the last category, but still zero blacks. Critics surely see way more movies than Academy voters, so…

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    CanadianFan
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    #212244

    Short-lists is a fantastic idea, but I’m not sure it should be implemented for best picture.

    I do think the Academy should have a reasonably small commitee that watches all of the shortlist nominees in a category before voting. The editing and acting branches are just so lazy.

     

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    ColinWesley
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    #212245

    This is probably as good an idea as any. Let’s hope Cheryl Boone Isaacs is reading.

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    PJ Edwards
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    #212246

    Technically, there is an eligibility list for BP but it’s pretty long. I would be against it anyway because again, you are taking people out of the conversation before it even starts. And then it goes back to who is voting for these lists? The same old white guys ya’ll are demonizing? They’ll still vote for who they like regardless. Just think of the outrage if Danish Girl made short list over Carol.

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    Rooney Moore
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    #212247

    Shortlists would give false hope for actors.I don’t think it’s a good idea at all.

    And of course, people only think and care about acting categories again.
    They wouldn’t have to share those lists with the public. Emmys used this system for quite some time and it only leaked once in 2007, I guess. 
    What possible argument could there be for voters voting for the things they have seen instead of checking off the names they have only heard? Seriously?

    Even if something like The Danish Girl triumphs over Carol like the above poster suggested, they’d still have voted for something they liked instead of the one that was most-buzzed about. We don’t demand Oscar voters to enjoy the things we have enjoyed. We just want them to be aware of the content they vote.

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    Zooey the Dreamer
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    #212248

    You see what the short list did in the foreign categories?

    The committee selects its own stuff and then the second committee fills in the titles, without which the media will go crazy.

    This will happen here as well. Let’s say the actors’ branch will select 15 semi-finalists and the second committee will add 5 more. They’ll do everything to be politically correct and this is the worst thing that could happen to the Oscars.

    By the way, somebody mentioned (not here, I guess) selecting 7 or 10 nominees per category. If this happens, there should be a huge protest. The idea of the Oscars is to be exclusive, not all-inclusive. 7 per category will lead to a lot of trashy performances and achievements at the Oscars and this would be the end of it.

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