The March 2014 Academy Awards was a very different Academy Awards from what I’m used to. The Academy and perhaps the film industry seems to have changed in a number of ways. As the baby boomers age, there are now more films that deal with the issue of caring for aging parents. Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts both got nominations for August: Osage County. Streep’s character was an aging, cancer ridden drug addict whose decline is dealt with by her favorite daughter, Barbara (played by Julia Roberts). Nebraska was about a senile old man’s (Bruce Dern) delusional quest to claim a million dollars. June Squibb was nominated for her part in Nebraska, where she plays Dern’s wife. The film industry is often accused of being youth obsessed, but it certainly wasn’t this year. In both Nebreska and August: Osage County actors weren’t overly made up. You even saw a number of characters who could be considered overweight. That’s diversity of body type.
This year a pretty diverse group of people won Academy Awards. Alfonso Cuaron was the first Hispanic to win for Best Director. Emmanuel Lupezki also won best cinematographer. Cuaron and Lupezki shared the best editor award. John Ridley won best adapted screenplay, making him the second African American to win an award in one of the screenwriting categories. Lupita Nyong’o won best supporting actress for 12 Days a Slave, and Robert Lopez won for best song for Frozen’s Let It Go. Lopez is partially of Filipino descent.
Women also had prominent roles in general. Conventional wisdom in Hollywood has been that films with female leads don’t sell. But that was proven wrong. Gravity did well with Sandra Bullock as the lead, while Blue Jasmine did well with Cate Blanchett as the lead. Blanchett won an Oscar for her performance of the wife of a financial fraudster who struggles to rebuild her life after she has him arrested. The Academy itself recognizes a growing diversity of talent in film has produced great works of art. This has major effects moving forward, as this recognition will lead to the creation of more diversity in the film industry itself as well as films that more resemble the population of America.