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2020 Oscar Nominations: Diversity Criticism, Snubs, and More

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  • This year’s Oscar nominations were announced, sparking new celebrations and criticisms over who was placed on and off the list. 
  • The academy is facing backlash for nominating just one Black actress, Cynthia Erivo, and not a single female in the Best Director category. 
  • Movie fans were also surprised to see no nominations for Jennifer Lopez, Awkwafina, and Lupita Noyong’o, among others. 

Joker Earns Most Noms 

The 92nd annual Oscar nominations were announced Monday with a wave of snubs and surprises that have movie lovers talking. 

Issa Rae and John Cho revealed the chosen nominees for all 24 categories, with the controversial drama “Joker” picking up 11 nods – more than any other film this year. “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” “The Irishman,” and “1917,” followed closely behind with 10 nominations. 

All four earned spots in the coveted Best Picture category along with “Little Women,” a tale of four sisters growing up in Massachusetts during the Civil War; “Marriage Story,” which focuses on a couple working through a tough divorce and custody battle; “Parasite,” a South Korean psychological thriller and dark comedy; “Jojo Rabbit,” the story of a young German boy who counts Hitler as an imaginary friend, and “Ford v Ferrari,” based on the true story of Ford working to make a faster car than Ferrari.  

The success of “Parasite” marked a particularly significant moment of recognition as it is the first South Korean film to receive nominations for Best International Film and Best Picture. The film has been widely supported by the Asian American community and earned six total Oscar nods, tying with “Jojo Rabbit,” “Little Women,” and “Marriage Story.”

Oscars Pass on J.Lo 

Perhaps the biggest snub this year was against Jennifer Lopez, who was favored as a Best Supporting Actress contender for her role as Ramona in “Hustlers.” After receiving nominations at the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards, it seemed like J.Lo was a sure bet for an Oscars slot as well. 

A surprise nomination in the category instead went to Kathy Bates, the sole nominee from “Richard Jewell.” 

No Female Director Noms 

Women were also completely absent in the Best Director category yet again, which was frustrating to many who felt “Little Women” director Greta Gerwig should have been an obvious contender 

Nominees for the category include Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Bong Joon-ho, Sam Mendes, and Todd Phillips. 

Both the Golden Globes and the Directors Guild of America awards shut out women directors in favor of male nominees, leading to widespread industry backlash. The Oscars’ decision has now, of course, added to that outrage. 

As Deadline points out, the lack of women in the Best Director category is a sad Oscars tradition. Only five women have ever earned a nomination in the 92-year history of the Academy Awards: Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), Lina Wertmüller (Seven Beauties), Jane Campion (The Piano), Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation) and Gerwig (Lady Bird).

In 2010, Bigelow became the first and only female director to win in the category.

#OscarsSoWhite and Other Notable Snubs 

The academy is also once again being slammed with the hashtag “Oscars So White:” on social media after users pointed out that minorities were largely overlooked. British-Nigerian actress Cynthia Erivo, who appeared in “Harriet,” is the sole Black performer among the 20 actor nominees. 

Jennifer Lopez’s snub sparked huge conversations about Latinx representation. Had she been nominated, Lopez would have been the first American Latinx actress singled out by the academy since Rosie Perez, who earned a best-supporting actress nomination in 1994 for “Fearless.” 

Many were also surprised to see Kenyan-Mexican actress Lupita Noyong’o and Asian-American actress Awkwafina left out of this year’s Best Actress list, especially considering their success at precursor awards. 

Nyong’o, winner of the most lead actress awards from critics organizations this awards season, received widespread praise for her two-sided role in Jordan Peele’s “Us,” meanwhile Awkwafina made history as the first woman of Asian descent to win a lead actress Golden Globe. The star acted in Lulu Wang’s dramedy “The Farewell,” which critics hailed as one of the best films of the year. 

Eddie Murphy, who was just honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at Sunday night’s Critic’s Choice Awards, also did not earn a nod for “Dolemite Is My Name,” and music star Beyonce was not included in the Best Original Song category for “Spirit” from “The Lion King.”  

Since previous backlash over diversity issues, the academy has worked to double female and minority membership by inviting more film professionals from overseas. While it has made some strides, even after four years of efforts, according to the New York Times, the organization is 68% male and 84% white. 

No Host

The 92nd Academy Awards will be held Sunday, Feb. 9, airing on ABC as part of the network’s long-term agreement with the Academy. For the second year in a row, the Oscars will go on without a host, as it did last year after widespread backlash over Kevin Hart’s hiring and departure. 

Full Nominations

Best Picture

“Ford v Ferrari” (Fox)

“The Irishman” (Netflix)

“Jojo Rabbit” (Fox Searchlight)

“Joker” (Warner Bros.)

“Little Women” (Sony)

“Marriage Story” (Netflix)

“1917” (Universal)

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” (Sony)

“Parasite” (Neon)

Best Director

Martin Scorsese (“The Irishman”)

Todd Phillips (“Joker”)

Sam Mendes (“1917”)

Quentin Tarantino (“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”)

Bong Joon Ho (“Parasite”)

Best Actor

Antonio Banderas (“Pain and Glory”)

Leonardo DiCaprio (“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”)

Adam Driver (“Marriage Story”)

Joaquin Phoenix (“Joker”)

Jonathan Pryce (“The Two Popes”)

Best Actress

Cynthia Erivo (“Harriet”)

Scarlett Johansson (“Marriage Story”)

Saoirse Ronan (“Little Women”)

Charlize Theron (“Bombshell”)

Renee Zellweger (“Judy”)

Supporting Actor

Tom Hanks (“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”)

Anthony Hopkins (“The Two Popes”)

Al Pacino (“The Irishman”)

Joe Pesci (“The Irishman”)

Brad Pitt (“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”)

Supporting Actress

Kathy Bates, (“Richard Jewell”)

Laura Dern (“Marriage Story”)

Scarlett Johansson (“Jojo Rabbit”)

Florence Pugh (“Little Women”)

Margot Robbie (“Bombshell”)

Adapted Screenplay

Taika Waititi (“Jojo Rabbit”)

Steve Zaillian (“The Irishman”)

Anthony McCarten (“The Two Popes”)

Greta Gerwig (“Little Women”)

Todd Phillips and Scott Silver (“Joker”)

Best Original Screenplay

Rian Johnson (“Knives Out”)

Noah Baumbach (“Marriage Story”)

Sam Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns (“1917”)

Quentin Tarantino (“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”)

Bong Joon Ho and Han Jin Won (“Parasite”)

Animated Feature

“How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World”

“I Lost My Body”

“Klaus”

“Missing Link”

“Toy Story 4”

International Feature Film

“Corpus Christi” (Portland)

“Honeyland” (North Macedonia)

“Les Miserables”(France)

“Pain and Glory” (Spain)

“Parasite” (South Korea) 

Best Documentary

“American Factory”

“The Cave”

“Edge of Democracy”

“For Sama”

“Honeyland”

Best Cinematography

“The Irishman”

“Joker”

“The Lighthouse”

“1917”

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

Best Costume Design

“The Irishman”

“Jojo Rabbit”

“Joker”

“Little Women”

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

Film Editing

“Ford vs. Ferrari”

“The Irishman”

“Jojo Rabbit”

“Joker”

“Parasite”

Makeup and Hairstyling

“Bombshell”

“Joker”

“Judy”

“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil”

“1917”

Original Score

“Joker”

“Little Women”

“Marriage Story”

“1917”

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”

Original Song

I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away,” “Toy Story 4”

“I’m Gonna Love Me Again,” “Rocketman”

“I’m Standing With You,” “Breakthrough”

“Into the Unknown,” “Frozen 2”

“Stand Up,” “Harriet”

Production Design

“The Irishman”

“Jojo Rabbit”

“1917”

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

“Parasite”

Sound Editing

“Ford v Ferrari”

“Joker”

“1917”

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’

Sound Mixing

“Ad Astra”

“Ford vs. Ferrari”

“Joker”

“1917”

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

Visual Effects

“Avengers: Endgame”

“The Irishman”

“The Lion King”

“1917”

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”

Documentary (Short Subject)

“In the Absence”

“Learning to Skateboard in a War Zone If You’re a Girl”

“Life Overtakes Me”

“St. Louis Superman”

“Walk Run Cha-Cha”

Short Film (Animated)

“Daughter”

“Hair Love”

“Kitbull”

“Memorable”

“Sister”

Short Film (Live Action)

“Brotherhood”

“Nefta Football Club”

“The Neighbor’s Window”

“Saria”

“A Sister”

See what others are saying: (Deadline) (The New York Times) (Variety)

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Childish Gambino Sued for Alleged Copyright Infringement

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  • Florida rapper Kidd Wes filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in New York Thursday against Grammy award-winning artist Childish Gambino.
  • Kidd Wes claims Childish Gambino’s 2018 song “This Is America” plagiarized his 2016 song “Made in America,” arguing that the two songs have “nearly-identical unique rhythmic, lyrical, and thematic compositional and performance content.”
  • Kidd Wes’ lawyers said his client is seeking damages from profits for record sales, endorsements, and other income sources. 

Childish Gambino Faces Lawsuit

Grammy award-winning rapper Childish Gambino, AKA Donald Glover, is being sued for alleged copyright infringement by Florida rapper Kidd Wes.

Kidd Wes, whose real name is Emelike Nwosuocha, claims Glover’s 2018 song “This Is America” plagiarized his song “Made in America,” which came out in 2016.

According to Pitchfork, he filed a lawsuit in a New York federal court on Thursday arguing that “the substantial similarities between both songs include, but are not limited to, nearly-identical unique rhythmic, lyrical, and thematic compositional and performance content contained in the chorus—or ‘hook’—sections that are the centerpieces of both songs.”

Pitchfork reported that defendants in the suit include Glover, the song’s co-writer Young Thug, producer Lüdwig Goransson, Kobalt Music, RCA Records, Sony Music Entertainment, Young Stoner Life Publishing LLC, 300 Entertainment, Atlantic Records, Warner Music Group, Roc Nation, Universal Music Publishing Group, and Warner Chappell Music.

“This Is America” and its accompanying music video were praised for providing stark social commentary on America’s history with racism, inequality, and gun violence. In 2019, it won both Record of the Year and Song of the Year at the Grammy Awards, making it the first rap song to take home the prize in either of those top categories. The song has been streamed over 465 million times on Spotify and the music video has been viewed on YouTube over 773 million times.

Lawyers Argue Similarities Are “Beyond Coincidental”

The music video for “Made in America” has just over 415,000 views on YouTube. Nwosuocha has 12,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. While Nwosuocha may have a smaller platform than Glover, his lawyers claim it is no mistake that the two songs sound alike. 

“The similarities between the two pieces of music are beyond coincidental, and amounts to infringement as alleged in the complaint filed by our client, Emelike Nwosuocha, professionally known as Kidd Wes,” attorneys Imran H. Ansari and La’Shawn N. Thomas told Pitchfork. “Mr. Nwosuocha is confident in his claims, and simply seeks the credit and compensation he deserves for the unauthorized use of his music.” 

Nwosuocha is reportedly seeking damages from profit in roughly 43 instances, including record sales, ringtones, endorsements, and record masters.

Glover has not responded publicly to the lawsuit. This is not the first time he has been accused of plagiarism over the song “This Is America.” Previously, he was accused of taking inspiration from New York rapper Jase Harley’s song “American Pharaoh.” At the time, Harley said he did not want to take legal action. Glover’s manager also denied Glover stole from Harley’s work.

See what others are saying: (Pitchfork) (A.V. Club) (The Guardian)

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MrBeast Accused of Creating Toxic Workplace

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  • YouTuber MrBeast, who is known for his massive giveaways, was accused of fostering a toxic workplace in a Tuesday article by The New York Times. 
  • One former employee claimed he quit after a week because MrBeast had unreasonable demands and “nothing ever worked for him.”
  • Another, named Matt Turner, said he was berated almost every day and was often called a “phrase used to insult people with mental disabilities.” 
  • Turner previously posted several videos about his experience working for MrBeast. In one, he praised the YouTuber and thanked him for a fun experience, but in another, he painted a negative and hostile picture of MrBeast.

MrBeast Accused of Creating Toxic Workplace

YouTuber MrBeast was accused of creating a toxic workplace in a Tuesday article from The New York Times. 

Jimmy Donaldson, who goes by MrBeast online, is known for his massive giveaways and “stunt philanthropy” videos. He has gained a substantial following and as The Times, noted, is a huge influence for many young creators. 

However, former employees said that behind the scenes, Donaldson is a very different person. According to The Times, his corporate entities “have been rife with favoritism and bullying.”

Matt Turner, who was an editor for Donaldson between 2018 and 2019, said that he was berated “almost every day” and that Donaldson often called him by a “phrase used to insult people with mental disabilities,” which would leave him in tears. 

According to the report, Donaldson initially largely hired friends to work for him, but as his empire grew, so did his number of staffers. Turner told The Times that while those friends got to be in videos, he struggled to be acknowledged. 

“I was not to be credited for anything I did,” Turner said. “I’d ask for credit, he’d credit someone else.”

Another former staffer, Nate Anderson, said he worked for Donaldson for a week in 2018 before quitting because of what he described as unreasonable demands.

“Nothing ever worked for him,” he told The Times. “He always wanted it a certain way.”

When Anderson uploaded a video describing his experience, he was met with hateful messages and even death threats from Donaldson’s fans. Turner said the same happened to him when he posted videos and wrote about his experience on social media. 

The Times spoke to, 20-year-old Akash Rathod, a fan who found Donaldson’s silence regarding these complaints and the subsequent death threats from his followers troubling. 

“There needs to be more from Mr. Beast on the issues his fans are causing,” Rathod said. “It’s not enough just to make positive videos.”

Donaldson did not give a comment to The Times for their piece. A representative for him declined to talk about the workplace allegations and only acknowledged a part of the piece that briefly mentioned Donaldson’s past use of slurs and offensive jokes.

“When Jimmy was a teenager and was first starting out, he carelessly used, on more than one occasion, a gay slur,” the representative said. 

They added that he now “knows there is no excuse for homophobic rhetoric” and “has grown up and matured into someone that doesn’t speak like that.”

Former Employee’s Previous Remarks

Rogue Rocket reached out to Donaldson for comment. In response, MrBeast sent a clip that Turner previously posted where he discussed his work experience in a much brighter light. In that video, which has since been deleted but exists in reuploads, Turner referred to the gig as a “dream job” and recommended others work for Donaldson. 

“If you have the opportunity to get this job that I had, totally take it,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun. It was basically just like a friendship. And going to work was a blast each and every day.” 

Turner then said his decision to part ways from the role was mutual, as the company knew he would not be in the job for the long haul. Turner said he was going to college, wanted to backpack across Asia, and was considering moving to Los Angeles eventually, so they decided to part ways. 

He also claimed that even after he was no longer working there, Donaldson, who had been paying for his rent while he worked for him, continued to pay for him to stay in his apartment and encouraged him to stay as long as he needed. Turner said he even continued to receive paychecks after he left the job for an unspecified period of time. 

“And that is basically funding my trip to backpack across Asia,” he explained. “He’s saying, ‘You don’t have to work for me, but I’ll still pay you. And because of that, I hope that lets you live in L.A., go to college, backpack Asia, whatever you want to do after this, I want to set you up for that.’” 

“If you’re watching this MrBeast, I fucking love you bro,” he continued. 

However, these are not the only remarks Turner has made about his experience working for Donaldson prior to the release of The New York Times report. He previously posted several tweets, which were later taken down, describing a hostile environment where he was “bullied” and “having mental breakdowns day after day.”

He also posted another video, which was deleted but has been partially reuploaded by other channels, where he said that he only posted positive remarks about Donaldson to “clout chase” because he was afraid of what would happen if he spoke ill of the YouTuber. He then painted a much more confrontational picture of Donaldson, telling a story where Donaldson allegedly wiped an entire project and cursed at him after being unhappy with an edit.

Taylor Laurenz, who wrote the article about Donaldson in The New York Times, told Insider that this story is reflective of a larger issue within creator culture. 

“For a large portion of Gen Z that doesn’t want to be creators themselves, working for a creator seems like an absolute dream job,” she said. “But we see time and time again that these creators have basically little to no management experiences and, behind the scenes, can create a really hostile, stressful environment.”

“Working for a 22-year-old YouTube star isn’t going to be the most professional work environment,” she added. “But if you are posturing yourself as a business leader or the next Elon Musk, you should think about the type of work culture you’re creating and what you are rewarding.”

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Insider) (Dexerto)

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Will Smith To Make Docuseries About Getting Fit After Saying He’s “In The Worst Shape” of His Life

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  • Will Smith announced on Tuesday that he will star in a YouTube Originals series called “Best Shape of My Life,” which will premiere in 2022 and follow the actor on a fitness and weight loss journey.
  • The news comes just a few days after Smith shared that he was in “the worst shape” of his life in an Instagram post that resonated with several people as many across the country struggle with pandemic weight gain.
  • “This is the body that carried me through an entire pandemic and countless days grazing thru the pantry,” Smith wrote in his announcement post on Instagram. “I love this body, but I wanna FEEL better… Hope it works!”

Will Smith to Star in YouTube Originals Docu-series

Just days after sharing that he is in the “worst shape” of his life, actor Will Smith announced on Tuesday that he will be starring in a YouTube Originals series called “Best Shape of My Life.”

His initial Instagram post revealing his weight gain resonated with many who praised him for being honest about his body changing during the pandemic. 

“You’re a real one for this,” YouTuber Casey Neistat wrote. 

“Fucking love it. That’s confidence,” Smith’s Suicide Squad co-star Joel Kinnaman added.

According to the show’s official description, “Best Shape of My Life” will follow “the story of Will Smith, looking up one day to find himself in middle age, rebuilding his body into the best shape of his life and getting his groove back along the way.” In it, he will challenge his physical abilities with the help of pro-athletes, scientists, other experts, and YouTube creators. 

The docuseries will air in six parts in 2022. It marks his second project with YouTube Originals, following his 2018 bungee-jumping stunt that raised money for charity to celebrate his 50th birthday. “Best Shape of My Life” is being produced by Westbrook Media, a company the Fresh Prince star launched with his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

Series Will Address Pandemic Weight Gain

“This is the body that carried me through an entire pandemic and countless days grazing thru the pantry,” Smith wrote on Instagram. “I love this body, but I wanna FEEL better”

“Imma get in the BEST SHAPE OF MY LIFE,” he continued. “Hope it works!”

Pandemic weight gain has been a common issue for people all over the world. According to Healthline, 61% of Americans said they gained weight as the world shuttered because of COVID-19.

See what others are saying: (Huff Post) (Entertainment Weekly) (Billboard)

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