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Oscars' lack of diversity is getting embarrassing

  • Video report by ITV News Arts Editor Nina Nannar

As awards season nears its end, there will be some Academy bosses on either side of the Atlantic who will be heaving a sigh of relief.

The same old controversies around a lack of diversity, awards events that simply don’t reflect what people are watching, have dominated the headlines once again.

The recent Bafta awards on BBC saw viewing figures fall by an estimated half a million from last year.

The Oscars show has seen audience figures in decline for years - though interestingly last year saw a spike in viewers probably because there was not a host, meaning it came in shorter than usual, even shorter in fact than The Irishman.

Though that’s not saying much.

In the last year, Avengers Endgame became the highest grossing movie of all time.

And yet a quick glance down the Oscars nomination list shows it has made just one category - visual effects.

Disney Studios ruled last year, taking the top five spots in box offices around the world, with the likes of Endgame, The Lion King and Frozen 2.

The studio passed £8.5 billion ($11 billion) in takings - a record - yet those top grossing films merited little recognition at the biggest film award shows.

It is a familiar criticism levelled, though of course there are some notable exceptions; Bohemian Rhapsody’s success may have surprised some critics but it was huge at the box office.

And this year we have Joker, Todd Phillips' stunning examination of the origins of the comic book character, leading the nominations with 11, but also scoring at the box office, crossing the hallowed $1 billion threshold.

And of course Sir Sam Mendes war epic 1917 which was the big winner at the Baftas, has also topped the British box office.

What will Joker’s Joaquin Phoenix say when he almost certainly steps onto the Oscars podium to collect his Best Actor gong?

After his searing speech at the Bafta’s, Oscar bosses will be expecting a similar questioning of why the film academies seem to be failing when it comes to diversity.

Both have taken steps to make their membership more representative.

The Oscars academy membership has grown by 3,000 since 2015, and in that time has doubled membership of people of colour to 18%. But women still lag behind, reportedly still at around 32%.

In a year that brought us a number of excellent films directed by women, was one of them surely not worthy of making the Best Director category?

Where was Greta Gerwig who has become the poster girl for underrepresented female talent?

What about Marielle Heller for A Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood?

Lulu Wang for one of my personal favourites, The Farewell?

Joanne Hogg for the underrated The Souvenir?

This has been a year when there are has been so much female talent to chose from.

It’s getting embarrassing.

At least Cynthia Erivo, not the first black British artist who has gone to the US to achieve the success that eluded them in the UK, will be there on the night competing for two Oscars.

Erivo will be performing her nominated song "Stand Up" from the film Harriet, for which she is also up for Best Actress.

It’s interesting that she turned down an invitation to perform at the Bafta’s having not made the acting categories there.

She has narrowly saved the American Academy Awards from another all white acting nominee scandal.

But expect #oscarssowhite to be trending again during the show.

For all that there will, of course, be winners and celebrations.

So expect 1917, to do very well.

Sir Sam Mendes will probably pick up his second Best Director Oscar (his first 20 years ago for American Beauty).

Laura Dern will win Best Supporting Actress for Marriage Story, probably one of only a handful of successes for the streamer Netflix, despite them having spent tens of millions of dollars promoting their Oscar hopefuls.

Renee Zellweger was victorious at the Baftas. Credit: PA

Renee Zellweger will get Best Actress, she’s by the far the best thing about Judy.

Brad Pitt will get Best Supporting Actor, he’s the pin up boy for this season’s awards season, with his self-effacing speeches about life as a singleton. Yeah right.

All eyes will be on whether Michelle and Barack Obama turn up on the red carpet to support the Oscar nominated documentary American Factory, made by their production company.

And when it’s over there will be much soul searching about what these awards are really all about.