The Oscars introduce diversity criteria for the Best Picture category

The awards are pushing for inclusivity

By Tegan Mouton

The Oscars introduce diversity criteria for the Best Picture category

The Academy Awards Best Picture

Hollywood’s most prestigious awards ceremony, The Oscars, has introduced a new set of guidelines for its biggest award, Best Picture, in an effort to expand diversity in the film industry.

The awards have historically been been criticised for a lack of diversity when it comes to the top categories, with the #OscarsSoWhite movement trending in 2015 along with similar criticism this year when there was just one black star, British actress Cynthia Erivo, shortlisted in the acting categories.

While South Korea’s Bong Joon-ho went on to win Best Director, and his film Parasite made history as the first foreign film to win Best Picture, there was criticism about the lack of female directors nominated, especially since Greta Gerwig’s Little Women had been making waves in a lot of the other major categories.

In the first step to attempt to change the current status quo, the Academy has established four representation categories that will be taken into consideration for films gunning for a Best Picture nomination. They are: on screen; among the crew; at the studio; and in opportunities for training and advancement in other aspects of the film’s development and release. The academy is essentially encouraging films to incorporate diversity and representation in all of these relevant production areas.

To meet the onscreen representation standard, a film must either have at least one lead character or a significant supporting character be from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group; at least 30% of secondary roles must be from two underrepresented groups; or the main storyline, theme or narrative must be focused on an underrepresented group. The Academy has defined underrepresented groups to include women, people of colour, people identifying with the LGBTQ+ community, and people with disabilities.

A film will need to meet at least two of the four standards to be eligible for a Best Picture nomination but these changes will only start to apply for the 96th Academy Awards in 2024.

In a statement, Academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson explained why they think the changes are needed:

“The aperture must widen to reflect our diverse global population in both the creation of motion pictures and in the audiences who connect with them.

“We believe these inclusion standards will be a catalyst for long-lasting, essential change in our industry.”

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