Awesome News: The Oscars set new mandate for inclusion in Best Picture nominees

The Oscars have had a diversity problem for roughly forever, a trend brought to the forefront in 2016 with the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. Recent years have seen some tremendous changes in the way we view film and television and an increase in diversity of stories and storytellers, but we still have years where a film like Green Book (a movie about racism made by and for white people) wins best picture when far more powerful films like Blackkklansman and Black Panther were on the ballot.

The Academy has now announced some steps to try to rectify this situation, which will be rolled out in 2022 and take full effect in 2024. Let’s take a closer look.

Starting with the 96th Oscars, films in consideration for best picture must meet two of these four standards:

STANDARD A:  ON-SCREEN REPRESENTATION, THEMES AND NARRATIVES
To achieve Standard A, the film must meet ONE of the following criteria:

A1. Lead or significant supporting actors

At least one of the lead actors or significant supporting actors is from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group.

  • Asian
  • Hispanic/Latinx
  • Black/African American
  • Indigenous/Native American/Alaskan Native
  • Middle Eastern/North African
  • Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
  • Other underrepresented race or ethnicity

A2. General ensemble cast

At least 30% of all actors in secondary and more minor roles are from at least two of the following underrepresented groups:

  • Women
  • Racial or ethnic group
  • LGBTQ+
  • People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

A3. Main storyline/subject matter

The main storyline(s), theme or narrative of the film is centered on an underrepresented group(s).

  • Women
  • Racial or ethnic group
  • LGBTQ+
  • People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

STANDARD B: CREATIVE LEADERSHIP AND PROJECT TEAM
To achieve Standard B, the film must meet ONE of the criteria below:

B1. Creative leadership and department heads

At least two of the following creative leadership positions and department heads—Casting Director, Cinematographer, Composer, Costume Designer, Director, Editor, Hairstylist, Makeup Artist, Producer, Production Designer, Set Decorator, Sound, VFX Supervisor, Writer—are from the following underrepresented groups:

  • Women
  • Racial or ethnic group
  • LGBTQ+
  • People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

At least one of those positions must belong to the following underrepresented racial or ethnic group:

  • Asian
  • Hispanic/Latinx
  • Black/African American
  • Indigenous/Native American/Alaskan Native
  • Middle Eastern/North African
  • Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
  • Other underrepresented race or ethnicity

B2. Other key roles

At least six other crew/team and technical positions (excluding Production Assistants) are from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group. These positions include but are not limited to First AD, Gaffer, Script Supervisor, etc.

B3. Overall crew composition
At least 30% of the film’s crew is from the following underrepresented groups:

  • Women
  • Racial or ethnic group
  • LGBTQ+
  • People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

STANDARD C:  INDUSTRY ACCESS AND OPPORTUNITIES
To achieve Standard C, the film must meet BOTH criteria below:

C1. Paid apprenticeship and internship opportunities

The film’s distribution or financing company has paid apprenticeships or internships that are from the following underrepresented groups and satisfy the criteria below:

  • Women
  • Racial or ethnic group
  • LGBTQ+
  • People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

The major studios/distributors are required to have substantive, ongoing paid apprenticeships/internships inclusive of underrepresented groups (must also include racial or ethnic groups) in most of the following departments: production/development, physical production, post-production, music, VFX, acquisitions, business affairs, distribution, marketing and publicity.

The mini-major or independent studios/distributors must have a minimum of two apprentices/interns from the above underrepresented groups (at least one from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group) in at least one of the following departments: production/development, physical production, post-production, music, VFX, acquisitions, business affairs, distribution, marketing and publicity.

C2. Training opportunities and skills development (crew)

The film’s production, distribution and/or financing company offers training and/or work opportunities for below-the-line skill development to people from the following underrepresented groups:

  • Women
  • Racial or ethnic group
  • LGBTQ+
  • People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

STANDARD D: AUDIENCE DEVELOPMENT
To achieve Standard D, the film must meet the criterion below:

D1. Representation in marketing, publicity, and distribution


The studio and/or film company has multiple in-house senior executives from among the following underrepresented groups (must include individuals from underrepresented racial or ethnic groups) on their marketing, publicity, and/or distribution teams.

  • Women
  • Racial or ethnic group
    • Asian
    • Hispanic/Latinx
    • Black/African American
    • Indigenous/Native American/Alaskan Native
    • Middle Eastern/North African
    • Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
    • ​Other underrepresented race or ethnicity
  • LGBTQ+
  • People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

All categories other than Best Picture will be held to their current eligibility requirements.  Films in the specialty feature categories (Animated Feature Film, Documentary Feature, International Feature Film) submitted for Best Picture/General Entry consideration will be addressed separately.


I am sure that these rules will be met with all the poise and grace that the internet can muster, which is to say that racist trolls are going to have a field day with it, mandating this kind of inclusion is honestly probably the way forward for an industry that is presently dominated by old white men.

Will these changes fix all the Academy’s issues? No, probably not, but this is a pretty good step forward.

You can read the Academy’s announcement here.

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