Snub of Black Performances in 2023 Oscar Nominations Has Some Declaring #OscarsSoWhite Again

As movies with black leads and female directors — “The Woman King,” “Till” and “Nope” — were excluded from the 2023 Oscar nominations, some are reviving the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag.

“Twice as hard, half as far. The #OscarsSoWhite playing as usual for Danielle and Viola,” music critic Britt Julious tweeted, referring to “Till’s” Danielle Deadwyler and “The Woman King’s” Viola Davis. “Embarrassing,” she added.

Times essayist Jamil Smith referred to the slights as “#OscarsSoWhite, redux,” also signaling the closure of the Davis and Deadwyler films.

One user jokingly called the list of nominations “Oscar so white 2.” (Though the actual sequel came in 2016, the second year in a row that all acting nominations went to white performers.)

Others questioned the snub of “The Woman King” director Gina Prince-Bythewood and the film “Nope,” which featured critically acclaimed performances from Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer and praised Jordan Peele’s direction and screenplay.

Some begrudgingly pointed to the surprise lead actress nomination for “To Leslie’s” Andrea Riseborough. The dark horse candidate had a litany of predominantly white Hollywood A-listers who powered her performance on her way to the nomination.

“Nothing against Andrea Riseborough, but it would be great if the old guard of Hollywood gathered around a [woman of color] actress in a last-minute campaign for the Oscars”, an user commented.

Producer and diversity advocate Prasanna Ranganathan, who also highlighted the absence of female directors of the nominations, denounced how “this alliance and amplification are rarely extended to people of color, queer, and disabled, and often come at their expense.”

Philadelphia magazine editor Ernest Owens stated that the impetus for Riseborough’s nomination came “at the expense of two black actresses who have been critically acclaimed throughout the season.” He called the campaign, “White privilege at its finest.”

Since the first Academy Awards in 1929, this marks the 83rd time that motion picture academy voters have not nominated a black actress for a leading performance; for black actors, it is the 74th lead performance snub.

Halle Berry remains the only black woman to win the Oscar for Actress in a Leading Role, for her 2001 performance as Leticia Musgrove in “Monster’s Ball.”

In January 2015, after the publication of that year’s list of Oscar nominations in which all the nominated actors were white, diversity and inclusion advocate April Reign was the first to tweet “#OscarsSoWhite.” The hashtag began trending online, sparking continued calls for the inclusion of black and other filmmakers and performers of color.

Reign weighed in on the 2023 nominations on Tuesday morning, tweeting amid the backlash towards Riseborough that “we should resist the urge to blame a movie or performance as the only reason our favorite wasn’t nominated.” He also drew attention to “broader discussions.”

He went on to explain how studios use their limited awards season budgets to decide which of their films to support with nomination campaigns, calling the process “a game of money.”

“And it’s always interesting to see them proudly release a film that reflects the experience of a marginalized community, but then let it hang come awards season,” Reign wrote.

A 2012 analysis by The Times found that Oscar voters at the time were nearly 94% white and 77% male. Black voters made up about 2% of the academy and Latinos less than 2%. Since then, the Academy has made changes to its diversity that may have been reflected in recent victories like Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight” winning best picture in 2017 and Kaluuya and Will Smith winning the best actor Oscar in 2021 and 2022, respectively.

This year, newcomer Brian Tyree Henry (“Causeway”) was nominated for supporting actor and Angela Bassett (“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”) for supporting actress, her second Oscar nomination. And Michelle Yeoh made history as the first Asian Best Actress nominee for her role in “Everything Everywhere All At Once.”

Even so, as Reign pointed out, diversity gaps remain, with glass ceilings intact and many still left out.

“We can also celebrate the incremental progress being made, while taking a stern look at the fact that we are still recognizing ‘firsts’ in 2023,” Reign wrote. “There is no magic wand. But it is clear that certain organizations are not yet ready to make the necessary changes. One must wonder why.”

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