Asians made huge strides at the 2021 Oscars. This group wants to make sure it wasn’t a blip.

At last year’s Oscars, Chloé Zhao became the first woman of color to win Best Director and Youn Yuh-jung became the first South Korean artist to win an Oscar for acting, two landmarks for Asian representation at the Oscars.

They were part of a welcome and long overdue increase in diversity at the Oscars. In 2021, almost half of the 20 interim candidates were people of color, a record. This included three Asian nominees: Youn, along with his “Minari” bandmate Steven Yeun, as well as “Sound of Metal” star Riz Ahmed. Also, for the first time, more than one woman was nominated for Best Director (Zhao for “Nomadland” and Emerald Fennell for “Promising Young Woman”). Zhao wasn’t the only Asian director nominated either, with “Minari” director Lee Isaac Chung among the five Best Director nominees.

However, looking at the list of nominees for this year’s Oscars, the nominees, which will be announced on February 8, are unlikely to match last year’s watershed moment for diversity and representation. To help put diversity and representation at the forefront of Oscar voters’ concerns, two Asian advocacy organizations – Gold House and the Coalition for Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (CAPE) – have teamed up for their second shortlist. annual gold. The list, released on Tuesday, highlights Asian-directed and created films of 2021 in the hope that last year’s Oscar season was not “just a small blow” but the start of a “long-term move”, as Gold House executive director, Jeremy Tran, said in an interview.

“My biggest fear is that the voting bodies and the awards community will say, ‘Oh, yeah, you got ‘Parasite’ two years ago. You had Chloé Zhao last year. You are good for the next 10 years,” he said. “It’s my biggest fear and something we’ve seen happen in the past.”

In 2021, Gold House and CAPE created the list because films by and about Asians and other people of color have traditionally not been as likely to garner the multi-million dollar “For Your Consideration” campaigns and substantial backing from Hollywood studios and marketing companies of rewards. This year, Tran had hoped to see some progress, given the string of recent successes from Asian filmmakers and actors. But he’s disappointed that, for example, Marvel’s box office hit “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” directed by Destin Daniel Cretton and starring Simu Liu, Awkwafina and Tony Leung, didn’t received a lot of attention compared to the previous ones. blockbuster movie. Another film on this year’s Gold List is A24’s “The Green Knight.” Starring Dev Patel and Sarita Choudhury, the slow-burning, visually daring fantasy drama received rave reviews from many critics, but didn’t generate much buzz at the Oscars.

Dev Patel in A24’s ‘The Green Knight’.

Tran said he understands studios and distributors have tough decisions to make when allocating their awards season budgets. But they need to question existing assumptions and take a hard look at when to choose which films will receive a strong awards campaign. Additionally, there are now many examples that make it harder to reject films created by and featuring Asian artists.

“We have concrete examples, concrete data to point to and say, ‘Hey, look, our community can do very well. Don’t fire this director because she’s an Asian woman. Look what Chloe Zhao just did, right? Don’t dismiss the Asian-led superhero movie just because watch ‘Shang-Chi’, the second-highest-grossing movie of 2021,” Tran said. “The more we can have the opportunity to be celebrated in the awards space, the box office, the more data we have to walk into these meetings and say, ‘Don’t do this just because the diversity is, in quotes, good’, which you should be doing. But also: “Do this because it makes business sense. It makes money for your business, and it changes and moves the needle for all of us as well.

This year’s Gold List contains three new categories: Best Animated Short, Best Live Action Short and Major Independent Film. They were added because these types of awards can often give emerging filmmakers more exposure and “could really take their careers to the next level,” Tran said. Winning a major award makes it more likely that a short filmmaker can make the leap to feature films and an independent director can make the leap to big budget projects. For example, Chinese-Canadian director Domee Shi won the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film for his 2018 Pixar short film “Bao”. She is now the first Asian woman and only the second woman to direct a Pixar feature film: “Turning Red,” which premieres March 11 on Disney+.

For the second year in a row, the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the Oscar season, which Tran says will affect which movies will be on voters’ radar. The recent surge in new infections due to the highly transmissible variant of omicron has forced many awards shows and Oscar season events back online. While virtual events can make these movies more accessible, in-person awards can often encourage Oscar voters to watch movies they might not otherwise have considered. A major example of word-of-mouth success was 2019’s “Parasite,” which gradually built up buzz by hosting events and winning major awards leading up to that year’s Oscars.

On this year’s gold list is Japanese director Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s ‘Drive My Car’, which recently won Best Picture from three of the top critic organizations: the New York Film Critics Circle, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the National Society of Film. Reviews. Tran hopes the acclaimed film will have a similar awards season run to “Parasite,” but wonders if the virtual events might make it harder for movies to break through the noise.

Awkwafina and Simu Liu in Marvel
Awkwafina and Simu Liu in Marvel’s ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’.

Jasin Boland/Marvel Studios

All of this demonstrates the need for greater representation and inclusion in the awards season ecosystem, from heads of studios and streaming services, to advertising and marketing executives, to journalists and critics who write about movies and awards season. Tran said that while much more work remains to be done on many fronts, he is cautiously optimistic about where things are headed. On the contrary, there are more ways than ever to hold Hollywood executives and decision makers to account.

“You said all these great things. Let’s see now that you start investing money in these movies,” Tran said. “Let’s see that you start hiring the right leaders to lead these departments, those who are aware of these issues, who can really affect and implement change internally so that externally the stories told are the ones our communities demand. and want to see.”

Read the full gold list below.

Best Picture

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”

Honorable Mentions: “Dbank my car” and Tthe green knight

Best Director

Destin Daniel Cretton (“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”)

Honorable Mentions: Cary Joji Fukunaga (“No It’s time to die”) and Ryusuke Hamaguchi (“Dbank my car”)

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Hidetoshi Nishijima (“D.bank my car”)

Honorable Mentions: Simu Liu (“Shang-chi and the legend of the ten rings ») and Dev Patel (“Tthe green knight)

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Gemma Chan (“Eternals”)

Honorable Mentions: Patti Harrison (“Ttogether together ») and Maggie Q (“The protects”)

Best Supporting Actor in a Supporting Role

Tony Leung (“S.hang-chi and the legend of the ten rings”)

Honorable mentions: Benedict Wong (“Nine Days”) and Steven Yeun (“The Humans”)

Best Supporting Actress

Awkwafina (“Shang-chi and the legend of the ten rings”)

Honorable Mentions: Sarita Choudhury (“Tthe green knight) and Jessica Henwick (“Tthe matrix resurrections »)

Best Original Screenplay

“To flee”

Honorable Mentions: “Nin days » and “Raya and the last dragon”

Best Adapted Screenplay

“Driving My Car”

Honorable Mentions: “Edull » and “Shang-chi and the legend of the ten rings »

Best Animated Film

“Raya and the Last Dragon”

Honorable Mentions: “Bshe” and Flee”

Best Documentary Feature

“The rescue”

Honorable mentions: “Ascension” and Flee”

Best Animated Short

“Namou”

Honorable Mentions: “Sdive into the river » and yous Again”

Best Live Action Short

“The Long Goodbye”

Honorable mentions: “Amechanized » and Tthe Little Prince(s)”

Indie breakout film

“Indian sweets and spices”

About Monty S. Maynard

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