Seen as one of the most prestigious film industry award ceremonies held in the U.S., the 91st Academy Awards airs on February 24, 2019. But what do the 2019 Academy Awards mean for storytellers? As book editors and writers, at Midnight Publishing we enjoy stories in all mediums. We love to analyze what these latest film production and acting nods mean for writers of all kinds. Keep reading for our professional staffers’ thoughts on what the 2019 Academy Awards mean for storytellers.
For a full list of this year’s nominees, go here.
2019’s Best Picture nods show the hunger for diverse storylines
Half of this year’s Best Picture nominations have African Americans (BlacKkKlansman, Green Book, and Black Panther) or Mexican Americans in lead roles (Roma). Another nomination, frontrunner The Favourite, passes the Bechdel test with flying colors. (It has two or more named female characters who talk to each other about something besides a man).
The fact that over half of this year’s Best Picture nominations are of stories centered around females and/or people of color demonstrates a growing recognition by the film industry. We’re finally seeing more storylines and experiences that go beyond the scope, perception, and experience of the Caucasian male. Additionally, the success of films like these shows that these types of stories are impactful and profitable—thus worth investing in. Obviously viewers are clamoring for stories that address hot-topic issues like civil rights and racism, and portray women and minorities as autonomous, powerful characters with meaningful, compelling, and important narratives.
Where are the women? Nominations for best director are sorely lacking in female talent, but show diverse male voices
Hollywood is notorious for a “boys’ club” mentality where well-known directors are the ones continuously hired for big-budget films. But it’s promising that four of the five nominations for 2019’s best director are of other races/nationalities. There’s African American Spike Lee for BlacKkKlansman, and Greek Yorgos Lanthimos for The Favourite. Mexican Alfonso Cuarón for Roma and Polish-born Pawel Pawlikowski for Cold War are also up for nomination. The fifth nominee is Caucasian American Adam McKay for Vice.
Unfortunately this year’s directorial roster does not include any female nominees. Several publications like Vulture and Vanity Fair have remarked this troubling; it feels like a backslide from last year’s nomination of director Greta Gerwig for Ladybird. So yes—the movie industry is certainly broadening its support of more diverse storylines and characters. But female directors are still not given many opportunities to direct “Oscar-worthy fare” or receiving recognition for the award-winning films being made.
The publishing industry has continued to see a rise in bestsellers from diverse female voices in the last few years. Notable among these includes Chinese American Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere (one of Amazon’s 2018 bestselling books), and African American Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give. The latter debuted at number one on the New York Times’ young adult bestseller list. Three of the five bestselling authors of all time so far have been female—Agatha Christie, Barbara Cartland and Danielle Steele, respectively. Female voices are not only interesting, popular, and resonant with the masses. They can be incredibly lucrative—something the film industry should take note of.
So what do you think the 2019 Academy Awards mean for storytellers?
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