Helen Mirren on #OscarSoWhite: ‘I think it’s unfair to attack the Academy’

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Last week, I read this interesting little item on Page Six – it was a piece about how celebrity representatives and publicists are scared to death that their clients will screw the pooch when it comes to questions about #OscarsSoWhite. The story keeps going and going, and obviously, celebrities are going to be getting questions about it for the next month, if not longer. And publicists are worried that there will be a rash of Charlotte Rampling-esque moments and careers will be destroyed because actors are incapable of discussing diversity with any kind of authenticity.

I bring this up because when I saw headlines like “Helen Mirren defends the Academy in #OscarsSoWhite row,” I thought Dame Helen had screwed the pooch. I love Helen and I think she’s fabulous, but she doesn’t always say the right thing when it comes to complex issues. But after reading everything she said… I get it. And I don’t think she said anything bad.

On Idris Elba’s Oscar snub: “I think it’s unfair to attack the Academy. It just so happened this year it went that way. He [Idris] wasn’t nominated because not enough people saw, or wanted to see, a film about child soldiers in Somalia or the Congo or somewhere like that. They just couldn’t face watching that movie and so not enough people saw that movie. It wasn’t in the cinema for long enough. The thing is all of these things count, people don’t really realise how much these things matter. And because of all of that he wasn’t nominated – which he absolutely should have been. And if he’d been nominated we wouldn’t be having this discussion, but we should be having this discussion. The conversation is incredibly important. It forced the conversation.”

It’s bigger than the Academy: “I’m saying that the issue we need to be looking at is what happens before the film gets to the Oscars. What kind of films are made, and the way in which they’re cast, and the scripts … So it’s those things that are much more influential ultimately than who stands there with an Oscar.”

Hollywood is in transition: “I was thinking actually recently, I’m sure obviously you’re aware of this whole ‘Oscarsowhite’ issue. And I started thinking, you know what, Hollywood is in a constant state of enormous transition you know and in another 20 or 30 years time, people will look back to this era and people will go, ‘how could they not have seen what was wrong?’ The great thing about getting older is that you realise things do change, that nothing is fixed, everything changes.”

[From The Guardian & Daily Mail]

It’s painful to admit, but I think Helen is right about one thing – if Beasts of No Nation had been a typical Hollywood release and it had a lot of money to promote a theatrical release, maybe that would have made a difference with Idris Elba’s lack of nomination. Because it was a Netflix release and they only showed the film in limited theaters, it did make a difference. Now, all that being said… the Academy doesn’t need Mirren to make excuses on their behalf. Let them stew in their own racism. It will be good for them.

These photos of Helen and Idris at the SAGs are making me tingly.

Photos courtesy of WENN, Getty.

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123 Responses to “Helen Mirren on #OscarSoWhite: ‘I think it’s unfair to attack the Academy’”

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  1. Breakfast Margaritas says:

    Nah. Not going for it. Too many Oscars have been handed out over the years to actors and directors of tiny films seen by no one. Yes, Dame Helen, it is fair to attack the Academy. Many people saw Creed and Straight Outta Compton which were critical and box office surprises.

    • Lama says:

      Exactly. Completely agree. And so many people saw Trumbo? Which movies the overwhelmingly white and male Academy actually watch is part of the problem too.

      • QQ says:

        THANK YOU!!!, Is like I LOVE Bryan Cranston but let’s be real, when they wanna nominate Birdman, Amour and sh!t like The Tourist for awards they dont GAF if us peons watched or not, but like everyone said: CUTE TRY

      • SloaneY says:

        I haven’t seen Amour or the Tourist, but Birdman was not $hit. Especially if you come from an arts background, you’d understand the artistry in the whole shoot. People seem to forget that the Oscars are awards for excellence in artistry by their peers, not a popularity contest amongst the general masses.
        BTW, I’m not saying there isn’t a racism problem in Hollywood.

      • Ennie says:

        Amour was not sh*t!
        it was a heart wrenching movie.

    • Monie says:

      Agreed! Sorry, Helen, but small, limited release flicks gets nominated all the time. Nice try though.

    • HoustonGrl says:

      This. And shouldn’t that be the point of the oscars anyway, to help honor accomplishment in film?

      • chelsea says:

        Only that has never been the case. It has always been political. Idris not being nominated has more to do with traditional Academy caprice than race. It being shown via Netflix didn’t help.

    • V4Real says:

      Helen doesn’t get a pass. There have been movies that a lot of people didn’t see that have had actors nominated for Oscars. Steve Jobs tanked and Fassbender was still nominated. Yes it was a wide release but it still flopped. And two Netflix projects have been nominated for an Oscar. So sorry Helen you can speak on behalf of The Academy as much as you like but that just makes you part of the problem and so uninformed.

      • Jc says:

        Not true. No Netflix movie has been up for anything other than documentary. No big awards. Different voter bloc for documentary than best supporting actor.

    • Pinky says:

      All I will say, is that this snub was also a Netflix snub. Netflix is dominating too much and Hollywood is petrified of that and afraid to legitimize its films out of fear that the company is going to change this business. (It will anyway, but they’re going to fight that as long as possible.)

      But, yeah. It was also a race thing–that went far in helping people ignore Beasts. These issues are not exclusive so they are all true at once. For now, lets deal with the race thing and catch Netflix and online platforms on the flippity flop.

      -TheRealPinky

      • sarah says:

        I actually agree with this, it was the first thing I thought when I realized the Idris & BoNN snub… the LAST THING the academy wants to do is reward a non-traditional/very modern (most likely the future) “production company”. That’s not the academy’s style at all, Netflix, to the Academy-i would assume- is unworthy, non traditional (when it comes to hollywood/film production) and thus not even qualified.. in a few years maybe it will be Netflix’s “time” (whatever that means)

      • Jayna says:

        Bingo about Netflix. You said it better than I did, more fleshed out.

      • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

        There has been previous material that was available only on Netflix that was nominated. I just want to say that because I think the Netflic excuse sort of got legs and ran. I do agree the Academy is uncomfortable with Netflix, but not so uncomfortable they didn’t nominate a previous project that was available only on Netflix (whereas Beasts had a limited theater run).

      • TheRealAlicia says:

        I agree with this. Even though I think Elba should have been nominated, I do think there is a certain portion of the Academy that thinks movies need to be watched in the theaters and not be on Netflix first. I do think it was part race but part being on Netflix. Older out-of-touch Academy voters are very rigid and set in their ways and resist change like Netflix.

        I also think there are far too many white Academy voters who had zero interest in Beasts due to the fact it was about black people and black issues.

        As for the other Netflix material nominated – those are documentaries where there is less choice for nominations. Also, after the Hoop Dreams fiasco 20 years ago they changed the documentary rules and made them much more stringent.

        However, having said all this, if the Emmys, the Globes and the SAGs can nominate Amazon/Netflix movies and TV shows and their actors/actresses for awards then so can the Oscars. The Academy needs to get with the times. They are showing how out of touch they are.

      • FF says:

        Beasts has no white saviour figure, and the academy wasn’t here for it. It has nothing to do with Netflix per se. They’ve nominated their stuff before.

        A full PoC cast on Netfix limited release winning an Oscar though could imply the start of something. So why let it past?

        When/if Netflix defaults back to brocentric fodder like an HoC-esque feature starring someone’s white fave: then it’ll get nommed.

      • Naya says:

        “Beasts has no white saviour figure and the academy wasnt here for that”<<<<<<< DING DING DING. Mystery solved. Pack up and go home.

      • msd says:

        The anti- Netflix argument doesn’t really fly. If it did then Elba wouldn’t have been nominated for all those other awards. Also, only actors in the acting branch nominate actors. Netflix may make studio executives nervous, sure, but actors don’t hate it. Why would they? More players making movies means more work for actors.

      • Fee says:

        Look at Martin Scorsese, all these incredible films, a career spanning over 40+ yes n he was only recognized several yes ago for the Departed. I agree with her in the sense that its way bigger than Oscars, these films, which I never once was publicized need more light, we need more studios n filmmakers who make films for the diversity we are. U can’t get nominated if there r not enough films.

    • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

      Exactly. If your job is to see and JUDGE movies then I don’t want to hear a single excuse about you just couldn’t, coincidentally, see any of the black ones because – insert excuse here.

      • Fee says:

        Unfortunately small films don’t have the big studio back up to promote to the academy, it shouldn’t even have to be about that but that is how they do it. Personally, the Oscars r over rated n have lost their credibily a looking time ago.

    • CLINIQUA says:

      Thank you. Also even if you accept voters didn’t see Idris’ film (too small, too violent, too ick..or whatever) what’s the excuse behind not giving recognition to director Ryan Coogler and actor Michael B. Jordan of Creed – it was a blockbuster.

    • Londerland says:

      Yep. Plus, if you’re voting at the Academy Awards, I think you have at least a basic responsibility to watch a few less appealing, less palatable films, especially those that have received critical acclaim.

      I don’t buy that the subject matter is too grim. Plenty of films with grim subject matter have been nominated. The Revenant hasn’t been talked-up as a laugh fest. Spotlight is about investigating child abuse. Room is about a woman and her child held in captivity. Not an excuse.

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      Although I agree that there’s a larger problem, the awards are a symptom of and a part of the problem. I think it’s fair to criticize the Academy.

    • Ennie says:

      but you have ale too take into account the studios pushing for their films. That leaves very few slots to smaller movies.
      It is right what she said. What happens before the awards needs to change first (and what the public pays to see) , even tho the conversation is needed.

    • mia girl says:

      In research, many times when companies are testing pilots/programs via online or DVDs sent to home (where they can not observe the person watching) they use a series of specific questions about the content itself that a participant has to answer to guage that they actually saw the entire program and/or where actually paying attention to it. If they can not answer these questions correctly then they are not allowed to give their assessment of the program.

      Maybe the Academy needs to do something like that. Have a series of questions (that randomize for each person) about each movie that must be answered for it to actually appear on your ballot. This might force people to actually see the screeners they are given.

      And, if you haven’t seen at least say, 20 or more of the movies in contention then you can not vote at all. How can you vote for Best picture if you have only seen like 10 movies?

      • Crocuta says:

        While I agree with the general idea, problem is that Oscars nominations don’t work like that.

        Academy voters can only vote for movies that make the ballot, but there’s always several hundred of them (323 in 2015, not sure about this year). And the list (and majority of the films themselves) are released late in the year so it’s physically impossible for Academy members to see them all. That’s why aggressive campaigning makes sense.

        Also, all Academy members vote for best picture, while in other categories they vote only for nominees in their own field. While I presume every movie that tries to go for best picture also recommends the actors, screenwriters and directors, only a small amount of films can go for categories like costume, make-up, special effects etc. I guess these then automatically get more potential viewers.

    • annaloo. says:

      I am not going for it either because SCREENERS!

      People in the Academy and the DGA and the PGA and for SAG get screeners shipped to their homes if they are voting. They are not watched bc these people do not make the time or they don’t have the inclination to see something. She may be right about the war in Somalia disdain, but there was a lot of buzz over it. I think people would have watched it out of curiosity. IT was certainly more engaging than the Revenant!

    • LA Juice says:

      Exact-o-mundo. Sorry. Helen is out of step here, and should have kept quite. Controversial Movies about henious child abuse in the congo are MADE because Oscar likes to take on the issues. Although it may be that Oscar snubbed Idris because it does not want to let Netflix in, the fact remains no other actors of color were nominated AND there weren’t enough roles. If FAULKING 2016 for crissakes, THIS should not be an issue. the only prolific black director out there should not be the guy who makes the Madea movies. The industry is broken and white hollywood is the problem.

    • mee says:

      yep. what about Carol or Spotlight – pretty obscure films I think.

  2. Lizzie McGuire says:

    No, Helen, no.

    So the Academy members didn’t want to watch something that happens to children in Somalia & Congo, aham but they’re okay with watching 12 years a slave. That’s totally fine in their books, okkaay. They had the chance to watch a good film but they choose not to because of dumb reasons. I get it that is bigger than the Academy but somewhere they have to start changing. The film industry respects the Academy & it’s important & taken into consideration, so it does matter.

    • Nic919 says:

      The are stories that many Academy members didn’t actually see 12 Years a Slave but voted for it anyway because it seemed important.

    • Ennie says:

      I understand that it is American history. It is not the same if it is a good movie about some war in other country that one about a central part of American history.
      I used to watch dramas, but not anymore for personal reasons. If I had to watch a drama that ,I’d choose one that relates to me more than others, somehow.

      • Kitten says:

        But is your attitude the prevailing one among movie-goers? Personally, I like to watch movies that take me somewhere else—the more “foreign” or unfamiliar the setting and circumstances, the better. It’s just a bonus if the movie is educating me about something I would not have otherwise been curious about, you know? It’s that accessibility, that transformative process that happens with great movies that makes them appealing to me.

      • Ennie says:

        Tricky question.
        I am not American, I do not live in the USA.
        I am not the best to ask because I love the English language, culture, etc. I hate dubbed movies.I support my country’s films. I try to go when I can and when there are buzzed about movies.
        I like foreign movies, and most we get are American, of course. Not many movies come in languages other than English unless it is a very buzzed about movie, like the French The Untouchables, for example.
        I’d like to see more people like me (Mexican), in international movies, actors and technicians. It makes me happy. I went and supported Del Toro even when the reviews for the Crimson peak were not that good. I did not go to see Sandle’rs twin movie because there was a Mexican actor, tho, do not do that to me.
        One thing stops me from watching more diverse things: The cost.
        Going to the movies where I live is so expensive , that we are “adventurous” when we can, but mostly we go to movies that are recommended to us, etc.
        Many times we get the nominated movies AFTER the actual awards, so we watch the nominated ones, which probably is a circle anyway, it is sort of a promotional thing that the film won, and it will make more money from overseas.
        I used to watch more diverse movies before, but as I said, I avoid dramas nowadays. I do not think I’ll watch the Revenant even if Gonzalez Iñarritu is the director. I am attracted to see the actual film more because of the Photography of Mexican Chivo Lubezki.

    • Denisemich says:

      Okay. I have to go with Helen on this because I went to see 12 years a slave but I have not been able to watch Beasts of No nation.

      I actually have started it 3 times and get so upset I turn it off. The movie is REALLY hard to watch.

      Just saying.

      Also give her a break… her husband’s movie got Jamie Foxx an Oscar.

    • Manjit says:

      I think it’s too easy, at the moment, to just blame the academy. We, the viewing public, arguably, play a more important role as we support films with our hard-earned cash. How many of us paid out to see the films we are criticisng the academy members for ignoring? If we don’t make the effort to go and see these films, why do we expect other people to watch them on our behalf? We are every bit as culpable as the old farts in the Academy.

  3. Sarah01 says:

    I agree with her take on this issue. I’m enjoying seeing some of the different perspectives, not all though.
    The only thing constant is change, I hope it happens sooner rather than later.

    • GreenieWeenie says:

      I think she is saying that Idris wasn’t excluded solely on the issue of race. And of course he wasn’t. Racism today is rarely that overt. But its still there, in a million other ways…and it is fair to attack the Academy on those grounds.

      • Lisa says:

        “Racism today is rarely that overt.”

        Uh…

      • Greenieweenie says:

        Um yes, racism today in a country where every reputable place of employment has an EOE disclaimer at the bottom of a job ad is rarely that overt. That’s why morons like that basketball team owner caught being a big fat racist in private are publicly shamed.

        Nobody is saying “No Idris, he’s black!” Nobody but Roger Moore or whatever the Bond creator’s name is.

        I actually think it is a disservice to focus on overt racism. I think most ppl don’t have a great understanding of racism. If you’re not using the n-word, they struggle to recognize it. And that’s why there are much deeper race problems that don’t manifest in an overt “he’s black. No.”

    • V4Real says:

      If that is true then no wonder Lupita won best supporting actress.

  4. Jayna says:

    I just can’t believe you aren’t required to see a movie if you are one of the voting members. The fact that the members maybe haven’t seen all movies or actors or actresses nominated is bizarre to me. I agree that it being a Netflix movie probably hurt it at the Oscars, but he should have been nominated, as should Abraham, the little boy who was the lead character in the movie..

    She is right that more than anything it ultimately goes back to the casting of movies and what projects the studios greenlight.

    • CornyBlue says:

      Yes! I literally cannot grasp as to how people do not see atleast all of the movies that are being talked about and just submit uncompleted ballots. of FIVE movies! When screeners are sent to their house!!!

    • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

      These poor rich people don’t have all the time in the world okay – a lot of them were mansion shopping which, if you don’t know, takes a LOT of time.

      • SloaneY says:

        Or, you know, a lot of them are working on current movies or developing new ones.
        I do think you should see all the movies in your category if you are going to vote on the winners. However, with nominations…while of course you should see all that you can, I imagine that it’s difficult to watch 50 movies over a 6 week span if you’re working 12-16 hour days.

      • Lady D says:

        I had a boss that ran a large festival every year. One year, she was asked to be on the judging panel of the Canadian Juno Awards. She was sent approx 300 cd’s to judge, but she was also given 3 months to do it. With a demanding job and family, it was difficult to listen to 3-4 cd’s every day for those 3 months

    • Mellie says:

      Are you kidding me? They don’t have to have even viewed the movies?! That’s terrible. I did not know that. Heck, I try and watch most of the movies nominated so I can enjoy the Oscars and formulate an opinion and I’m just a regular Joe off the street. That is crazy and completely unfair to all actors and actresses.

  5. Lucy says:

    I was worried too, but after reading it, I can see she’s basically saying the same thing as Viola Davis.

    • Jayna says:

      She is, basically.

    • Alex says:

      Sort of. She misses the mark about the wide release thing. The Academy gets screeners for movies so the wide release thing makes zero sense. The voting members don’t have to go to a movie to see it. Not only that but there’s countless academy movies that are nominated that no one has seen until AFTER it gets nominated. Esp indie movies. And if we went by that then Creed and Straight Outta Compton should’ve had nominations because they had wide releases and made money at the BO

      • Jayna says:

        But those movies had a somewhat wider release in “theatres,” even if not seen.

        I think there is a real snobbery by the Oscar members towards Netflix and a fear that more movies nominated could be Netflix released and not wider released movies on movie screens.

      • Ennie says:

        Not everyone has netflix around the world. That must have an impact somehow.

      • Lady D says:

        Perhaps it’s time Netflix started its own awards show. It’s not going away, in fact Netflix is getting bigger and even more popular. They just might give the Academy a run for their money.

    • ichsi says:

      She is and I don’t think she’s defending the Academy, not really. She’s packaging the criticism better and places the problem more universally, like Viola did.

    • lucy2 says:

      Clooney a bit too, they’re all saying it has to start well before a movie is up for consideration, it has to start at the beginning of the filmmaking process. That, I agree with fully.
      I can buy that not everyone was in the mood to watch that movie, but they all got screeners, and if I were lucky enough to have a vote in a category, I’d take it seriously and watch everything I was sent, so there’s no excuse there IMO.

  6. OrigialTessa says:

    I’m willing to bet Helen is part of the Academy. It’s not some round table of like 10 guys deciding who gets a trophy and who doesn’t.

  7. Amelia says:

    I reckon that’s a mostly fair assessment from Helen, but like you say Breakfast Margaritas (great name, btw) the Academy should definitely shoulder a huge portion of the blame. Two years in a row of lily-white Oscars is not a coincidence, it’s a load of cranky old white dudes scared of anything new or fair.

  8. nches says:

    I hated that movie. When it ended I went “is that all?”

  9. t.fanty says:

    The last quote reeks of Michael Caine’s “wait your turn” comment. But people love Dame Helen, so it will slide.

    Personally, I think she loves the attention she gets as the cool, sexy older woman who says outrageous things. I think this is just her doing exactly that.

    • Sixer says:

      You’re right. It does reek of Michael Caine. And guess what? My first instinct was to give her a pass. I had to make myself not do it.

    • Rachel says:

      I didn’t buy it either. “in another 20 or 30 years time, people will look back to this era and people will go, ‘how could they not have seen what was wrong?’ ”

      Except the Civil Rights Movement began over 50 years ago. 50 years. That’s plenty of time to get sh!t right. You shouldn’t need another 20-30 years.

      • Miss Jupitero says:

        My thought exactly. How much longer do people have to “wait”? I just can’t give her a pass. It pains me, I like her, but no, no, no.

        Time to crank Nina Simone singing Mississippi Goddam

      • jammypants says:

        Precisely. Of course she would say that. She has no idea what black experiences are like in her bubble of white privilege. Ugh so ignorant. No one racial group should wait their turn to be treated like dignified human beings. Caine’s and Mirren’s remarks are just as bad as Rampling’s.

    • GreenieWeenie says:

      I disagree. She isn’t saying that change will happen in 20-30 years, so wait your turn. She’s saying it’s happening NOW. I think she’s trying to inject a hopeful note, like this can change and it is changing…rather than “now now, be patient, things will eventually come ’round your way if you just hold tight and behave proper.” That’s paternalistic=Michael Caine.

      • Kym says:

        That is the message I took from from her too, GW :)

      • Nancy says:

        I agree. This isn’t a person without knowledge. She’s been around the block several times and I think in her mind believes what she is saying. At least she is being honest unlike the SAG awards where it seemed they had to give an award to poc simply because of the Oscar controversy. She Is an older respected women in her industry and hope she doesn’t get too much flack. She Is speaking the truth as she believes it. Ur right about the Michael Caine comparison…it seems our elders have more patience.

      • lucy2 says:

        GW is correct, she’s saying change is happening now, but it often takes time before you can look back and see clearly the progress that was made.

      • T.Fanty says:

        But saying it in the context of NOTHING happening in terms of recognition of actors of color, relegates it to a “wait your turn” comment. The whole point is that change isn’t happening, or we would see it.

    • Josefina says:

      I didn’t read it as that, but more that people are aware of this discussion and that progress is being made a step at a time. One day we’ll reach a point we’re we’ll look back and wonder how it went so bad. I think she was saying she knows this can be solved and will be. Caine sounded condescending telling people to basically shut up and wait.

  10. kri says:

    I think by attacking the “body” aka the Academy, you are really going after the individuals who make up that body, and yes, they need to be told. As far as what she is saying about change and how it is coming, I agree. Things will change, but the fact is a mirror must be held up to the makers and shakers in Hollywood. They need to start at ground level with casting, directors, writers, etc. I think Helen missed the point on the Academy, but she also made some good ones.

  11. Cynthia says:

    “In Somalia, or the Congo or somewhere like that.” Ehm.

    • Helena (original) says:

      I think you are totally missing her point. It is “in Somalia, or the Congo or somewhere like that” to those people who don’t give a s**t. She knows that because she cares.

    • Marty says:

      Right? I cringed.

    • Holmes says:

      That was EXACTLY my first thought. It’s true that the country in the film is never explicitly named, but it’s pretty clearly somewhere in West Africa. Neither Somalia nor Congo (which Congo, btw?) are anywhere near there. Can you imagine if an American actor had said this? He or she would be getting ripped limb from limb for knowing nothing about geography.

    • GreenTurtle says:

      Thank you.

  12. HoustonGrl says:

    I do not agree with her at all, there is NO excuse for #Oscarssowhite and until we stop making excuses, it won’t change.

    • V4Real says:

      Yep it sounds like she’s making excuses to stay in the good graces of The Academy. To say Idris was not nominated because no one wanted to see Beast of No Nation or because it was on Netflix is a cop out. Two Netflix documentaries have been nominated. This makes Helen looks stupid or not well informed.

      • HoustonGrl says:

        Yes, and it’s sad because she is an established actress with very little lose, i.e., she has the power, the leverage and the influence to take a stand.

    • Boston Green Eyes says:

      Or until all the old, white hetero guys die off.

    • GreenieWeenie says:

      But clearly, there are. If it’s a SYSTEMIC issue, there are excuses. If it’s a PERSONAL and INDIVIDUAL issue, then there aren’t. That’s why it’s always harder to effect systemic change. I think it’s great that people are pointing out this is a systemic (i.e. industry-wide/nation-wide) issue. And I find it so strange, so perplexing, that an American surrounded by institutionalized racism would say “there are no excuses.” I mean, where’s everyone saying “there aren’t any excuses” for disproportionate police brutality against black Americans? “There aren’t any excuses” for unfair criminal sentencing practices? “There aren’t any excuses” for brutal socioeconomic inequality that corresponds to race? Yet there it all is. And Americans tolerate it. An entire political party aims to erase awareness of it. So there are excuses. Why? Because the problem isn’t that simple.

      • GreenieWeenie says:

        sorry, I use caps way too much. I should use asterisks or something.

      • HoustonGrl says:

        I would agree with you if you replace the word “excuse” with the the word “reason.” But excuse has a completely different impact and emotional result. Many people have said this is an “industry-wide” problem and are using that to give the academy a pass. However, that could only hold true if there hadn’t been Oscar-worthy performances by black actors. This isn’t the case, as Helen herself points out.

  13. teatimeiscoming says:

    Her point may stand with regards to Idris Elba if we are willing to give “benefit of the doubt” to her reason.
    However, a TON of people saw Straight Outta Compton, and many believe that the performances were certainly worthy of recognition.
    I am not willing to apply the logic of her statement to ONE film, and not the other.

  14. Turkey says:

    Oh Hel. I love her. She still a goddess, who I don’t always agree with. ❤️

  15. Original Kay says:

    Bless her heart

  16. The Eternal Side-Eye says:

    “To all those who are angry that their applications were denied I apologize. I was not able to read all of your applications, many of them seemed like they’d contain some graphic stories that I wouldn’t entirely be comfortable with. As a result I neither viewed your hard work nor attempted to watch it. Yes I realize I’m in a position where I am the ONLY person who can give any reward for your labor but well…it just didn’t appeal to me.

    …wait, why are you mad at me???”

    Some of these people, Dame Mirren included, are in such insulated bubbles I fear they’d die from shock if they were ever exposed to reality.

    • Marty says:

      Yeah I just don’t understand her logic. Especially considering some of the depressing stuff the Academy has nominated in the past.

      And you’re right Eternal, if they ever cared enough to step outside their bubbles and actually attempt real inclusion, I might die of shock.

  17. Hannah says:

    She may have a point about idris. But then again he was nominated ( won) at the sag awards for the same part so why couldn’t the academy members see the movie if sag members could?
    Also what about Michael b Jordan? stallone gets a nomination so they did see that movie.
    I adore Helen but she’s brushing the problem somewhat under the carpet here.

    Also Netflix was nominated in other categories, so it doesn’t even make sense to make this all about Netflix.

  18. perplexed says:

    If the movie was on Netflix, wouldn’t that in some ways have made it easier to be seen?

    I don’t get all the respect Helen Mirren gets in terms of her public persona. Yeah, she can act, but once she’s not acting, I don’t get the big whoop about her when she’s herself.

  19. The Eternal Side-Eye says:

    Also, honestly, how is it supposed to be ‘better’ that the defense for a group of people (who consistently fail to recognize POC talent) is that the stories being told by those POC were too graphic or not interesting or didn’t have a wider release?

    It’s like the way publishing agents tell potential writers they just can’t empathize with their stories because their characters are POC not boxed into a typical role. The suggestion is if you’re not putting out the image of some intangible thing automatically appealing to whites you’re not worth the same consideration. Get off your lazy ass Academy and make effort, otherwise you’re enforcing the status quo that says an absolute minimum of non-white people should ever be given recognition.

  20. I think it’s fair to attack the academy, so I disagree with her there, HOWEVER, I DO agree that it’s much greater an issue than just the Academy.

    I loved Concussion with Will Smith and I thought he was amazing in it (and I’m not a Will Smith fan usually)! I told both my kids to see it, but within a week or two it was out of theatres, so they never got the chance to go! Some films stay at our one little theatre in our eastern Ontario city for months, while others are gone in a week, and others we don’t get at all! My husband and I had to drive an hour away to see The Big Short, and my husband loves Asian films and we never get those either. We get every idiot movie (like Dumb and Dumber) or animated kids’ film out there, but most of the films nominated by the Academy this year we hadn’t even heard of! And we go to the movies every weekend!!

    So, I don’t know who decides what movies get lots of play. I don’t know how much is decided at the individual theatres or the theatre chain head offices, or the movie studios or ??? I think a lot of decisions are made are what they think will make the most money, like kids films or stupid humour films or stuff like Twilight, and people never get to see a lot of the films that the Academy gets to see and vote on. That definitely skews things for nominations and awards, and I think black actors especially get shafted for serious attention and support for serious roles because a lot of those films rarely get seen even though they deserve to be seen and have very good acting in them.

    Maybe Helen’s right and people don’t want to see stuff that reminds me of horrible things in the world…people do like to turn a blind eye, that’s for sure. The atmosphere in the US right now is very racially charged and maybe a lot of older white men aren’t interested in seeing movies about black struggles? Personally I think if they are going to vote then they should have to watch every film that considered worthy of being nominated, not just what they want to watch…otherwise how can it be fair?

    I think there is an unfairness right now regarding black actors in Hollywood, but honestly, I think until a lot of the older people pass on, it isn’t likely to change. Their racism is too deep and ingrained. They probably don’t even realize it’s there, but it comes out in stuff like not interested in watching films about black history or black child soldiers. Maybe they don’t see it as “their” issues and can’t relate, but that’s what I mean… in the future, hopefully, we will relate because we are all human beings and we will be horrified because any child goes through that, or is treated that way. Or we can watch black history and be horrified that any human being could treat another in such a way (much like many people feel watching footage of the Holocaust, even if they aren’t Jewish or a group that was targeted by the Nazi regime). Compassion, empathy. I think the younger generation is more open about us all being human beings rather than the colour of our skin, so I think as they age and move into positions of power, we will see real change (I hope).

    I think i

  21. Tig says:

    The ageism in some of these posts is amazing. What, everyone over 50 needs to
    die and all will be right in Hollywood? Maybe it will, but what if the next crop of studio heads is just as tone-deaf as this set? Wait for them to die, too? I do think that theatrical releases will go the way of the dinosaur sooner as opposed to later.

  22. Melody says:

    Blaming the Oscars for the lack of diversity in nominees is a bit like blaming the water quality in Flint on the faucets. They need to do more work upstream to really fix the problem.

  23. Tiny Martian says:

    Well, I have mixed feelings about her comments, but I still love Helen.

    But for the record, I read the book “Beasts of No Nation”, and found it to be an emotionally devastating read. And as much as part of me really, really wants to watch the movie, I haven’t been able to bring myself to do it. I’m torn because I’m sure it’s a truly excellent film, but I just can’t handle revisiting the subject matter. Sorry, but it was just too much for me in print, and I’m not sure I can handle the visuals!

    • Jayna says:

      You can. Nothing was gratuitous at all and handled just right, especially if you are talking about the child rape in the movie, which you don’t see explicitly, but know what is happening. It is so horribly unsettling and tragic in one scene in the before and after. You never see the rape, though. And the only other scene with the other boy, it is more inferred.

      Abraham Attah’s performance as Igu was nothing short of mesmerizing and haunting and heartbreaking. Idris Elba’s supporting role performance was amazing also.

    • Jayna says:

      I forgot to add, that as far as the extreme violence, some of it I couldn’t take and had to look away.

    • Ennie says:

      I am prone to depression, so I usually avoid dramas, particularly war ones. I cannot bring myself to watch “Grave of the fireflies”, I think I’ll never will.

  24. Siearra says:

    How can some of the Academy members vote for who gave the best performances, if they didn’t watch ALL the movies?

  25. FF says:

    Well the real problem is how white culture doesn’t interpret mainly PoC features as, as good as some well directed white dudebro manpain feature. (It’s almost as if there’s a mental PoC threshold and when they see too many in a non-menial/non-slavery/non-incarcerated/non-wallpaper setting they find the sole white person involved to praise or shut down completely.) I don’t know how an entire culture can – in the main – be dismissive of various groups’ cultural contributions and achievements and then somehow do an aboutface when it’s time to vote as part of the Academy.

    They only get shaken out of this attitude when called on it. They then resentfully throw a token bone before going back to their default bro setting.

    Whatever excuses get passed around are excuses. Just using entropic logic: if Hollywood and the Academy’s nominations are as white as they are and becoming whiter, then it’s because there is energy being expended keeping it that way. It’s not an accident.

    The reason people can’t deal with it is because it goes beyond the subject of film and into engrained social attitudes that are reinforced and harder to shift. Particularly when no one wants to be the bad guy.

  26. Lisa says:

    She kind of has a point, but then you have to look at the big picture and ask why films like that get a limited release in the first place. Why less exposure for one and not another featuring a white cast? (like The Danish Girl, for example)

    The bullshit about audiences not being able to handle it is just that, bullshit. Lots of movies have graphic scenes in them, or deal with sensitive subject matter we’d rather not think about. Room is nominated, and that’s pretty tough to swallow. The Danish Girl is/was controversial for a number of reasons, and transphobia is still rampant. Both movies and their leads are up for Oscars. So, no, not quite, Helen.

  27. lem says:

    I disagree that it has anything to with wide release as there are movies that are nominated that I had never even heard of, and I keep up with this website daily. I think with Beasts of No Nation it was partly b/c the academy is inherently racist AND b/c the academy is old Hollywood and they were sending a message to NETFLIX that they do not belong with the elite. Netflix is already smashing Hollywood in terms of television shoe series and now they’re encroaching on the movies. I think the Oscar snub is also a message to Netflix about where their “place” is in Hollywood.

    • EM says:

      It’s not that they’re racist, but they are gutless and don’t want to touch or go near a film that portrays the uglier side of the world. Why? Because it opens up cans of worms: political, social, economic, etc.
      The Oscars have ceased being relevant ever since mediocre actors began winning Oscars…um…Gwyneth Paltrow…Nicole Kidman…Matthew McConaughey (who plays a southerner in every film he is in)…that mediocre French actor in the Artist (where is he now, in terms of wide release ‘blockbusters’?)
      The Oscars are about lobbying. Even Weinstein couldn’t get a nomination for Gyllenhaal, yet people still focus on Creed missing out in the actor nomination. The Academy probably thought, ‘Not another boxing film” and that was that, but no, it’s become a race issue.

  28. Marianne says:

    I dont think it makes a huge difference because we no production companies send out screeners to academy members.

    But I think shes right that it probably comes down to people just simply not wanting to see the film which is…unfair. I mean child molestation is a hard issue too and yet Spotlight is getting noms(and even wins) left and right.

  29. HK9 says:

    I don’t buy it because the list of movies that won Oscars that not a lot of people have seen is huge. Don’t make excuses, it is what it is.

  30. Jess says:

    Excuses, excuses

  31. dana says:

    I think this convo in Hollywood has gotten so off track, its wheels have fallen off. It was never about calling anyone racist or about the win itself. It was about offering diverse actors and films and voices so we don’t get spoon fed the same crap year after year. I don’t think Helen in theory is wrong but she’s not right either. And as for publicists go… Spike Lee brought up a good point ignored this time around. Every other decade Academy and Hollywood Execs are asked the same question… Why so Limited and narrow. Spike said look back to the 70s. So many actors spoke up on behalf of diversity. 80s – same thing. 2016… we only hear… ME ME ME ME ME…. stop calling ME racist. It took ME along time to make it so you have to wait. ITs MY turn. They don’t want to watch your movie but MY movie is more broad to the people on the board. Very selfish… and limited. And honestly – depressing that this is so hard to achieve in this day and age.

  32. BRE says:

    I agree that the Oscars are too white but another thing I don’t understand is why we still have separate categories for women? This isn’t a sport where physiological differences make it harder for women to compete against men.

    • Tia says:

      Because if we didn’t have separate categories, there would only be one or two women (max) nominated and they will rarely win. Basically, what POC actors and actresses go through right now. Sexism and racism are what the Academy excels at…

  33. Dangles says:

    Instead of sending members screeners they should have an Academy Awards Film Festival where they screen all the nominated films. If a person wants to vote they have to see all the nominated films in their category. They could police it by making everyone swipe their festival pass on a scanner as they enter the cinema. If they don’t attend every movie then they don’t get to vote. Obviously people who had legitimate reasons for not attending, ie they lived overseas, could be sent screeners.

    • Tara says:

      @Dangles: I think that’s an extraordinary idea!! Plus it would be way more exciting. Frankly, I’d watch periodic reports from something like that, as well as an awards ceremony at the end. Would be way more exciting, organic and realtime than this manufactured bs. Haven’t watched an awards show since grade school and can’t fathom anyone outside the industry watching one.

  34. WhatevahMang says:

    But the Academy was fine with watching Schindler’s List.

  35. Jayna says:

    Is Sylvester Stalone really that good in Creed? I think he’s a lousy actor and has been for years and is mostly in action pics, except in the first Rocky. He was really great in that and gave a moving performace. So it seems strange he’s being nominated for an acting role..

    • lem says:

      I’ve definitely thought that this year’s oscar noms seemed to be all over the place. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Mad Max and The Martian but by no means are either of those story lines worthy of an academy award for best picture (if they won more technical awards–sure I can see that). It seemed like a lot of films/actors were nominated for movies that made a lot of money over the actual qualify of the story or acting itself.

  36. C says:

    But why is the majority of The Academy’s nominations movies that nobody has heard of then? And why is that only like 5 movies out of ALL that’s released in a year get named for ALL the awards? Surely there are others out there?

  37. nic says:

    Another example of something taken out of context to make the speaker sound like a monster. Love her take on this. Found it valid and fair-minded.

  38. EM says:

    She answered it in a nutshell. No one wants to see a film about child soldiers. Not many saw the film. Hence the lack of a nomination. What is the bet that a portion of people are going to suggest she is a racist?

  39. Maryscott O'Connor says:

    It’s not that Beasts was a small picture. It’s that the subject matter was so unappealing — especially to the mostly white mostly old Academy membership. Birdman did appeal, regardless of how small it was. And there’s a difference between small pictures with heavy PR pushes and pictures like Beast, which was not flogged ceaselessly and given the attention it needed. It had an uphill battle no matter what — and without a huge PR push, it didn’t stand a chance. Then there’s the Netflix issue, which adds an even heavier burden.

    Mirren is right, about Beasts as well as the other issues she mentions. She’s not claiming there isn’t racism — quite the contrary. But in the case of Beasts it wasn’t JUST racism.

  40. Annie says:

    I wish my life was so carefree that I had to worry about the oscars. These people live in a different reality than I do. They just think their important when they’re actually not.