Diversity rules the Oscars
Once an evening of backslapping and merrymaking within the narrow confines of Hollywood, the Academy Awards this year looks like a United Nations exercise in diversity.
The 79th annual Oscars on Sunday feature their most ethnically varied line-up to date, with stars and stories that reflect the growing multiculturalism taking root around the globe.
Competing for best picture is Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Babel, a sweeping ensemble drama. The film’s cast ranges from A-listers such as Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett to comparative unknowns Adriana Barraza from Mexico and Rinko Kikuchi from Japan, who both earned supporting-actress nominations for Babel.
Also in the running are Stephen Frears’s classy British saga The Queen, a portrait of the royal family in crisis, and Clint Eastwood’s Japanese-language war tale Letters from Iwo Jima.
Those films join two idiosyncratic American stories nominated for best picture, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris’s road comedy Little Miss Sunshine and Martin Scorsese’s crime epic The
Though set among the distinctive cops and mobsters of Boston, The Departed has a global connection itself. The film is based on the Hong Kong crime thriller Infernal Affairs.
Of the 20 acting nominees, five are black, two are Hispanic and one is Asian, while only two Americans—Eastwood and Scorsese—are among the five best-director contenders.
With a Directors Guild of America award and other top film honours behind him, Scorsese is considered a shoo-in to earn the directing Oscar, a prize that has eluded him throughout his illustrious career.
There are clear front-runners in all four acting categories, as well: Forest Whitaker as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland and Helen Mirren as Elizabeth II in The Queen for the lead-acting trophies, Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson as soul singers in Dreamgirls for the supporting honours.
The best-picture race is up for grabs, though, with all five films in the running, but many Oscar watchers generally figure it is a three-way race among Babel, The Departed and Little Miss
Organisers at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hope the suspense of the wide-open best-picture category will help offset moviegoers’ relative lack of interest in the competing films.
TV ratings for the Oscars tend to be lower when fewer people have seen the top nominees. Collectively, the five best-picture nominees had drawn a total domestic theatrical audience of about 38,5-million people, about a third the number of fans who had gone to see the contenders in recent peak years when such blockbusters as Gladiator or The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King won.—Sapa-AP