by Jess Ferguson
January 21st, 2021

To say award shows have missed the mark on diversity is an understatement. Every year, shows like the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes fail to recognize countless BIPOC actors and creators who produce amazing works. Some notable nomination snubs from last year include Lupita Nyong’o for Us, the cast of Parasite, and the actors and director for The Farewell. Following this annual negligence, the creators behind these shows—especially the Oscars—make empty promises to better diversify their judging and nomination qualifications.

Until this year, during the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, these claims never became concrete. The Oscars vowed last September to create new standards for their Best Picture category to ensure each film in the category appropriately reflects a wide range of cultures “in both the creation of motion pictures and in the audiences who connect with them.” All films must submit an Academy Inclusion Standards form to be considered for Best Picture by 2023, and only films that meet these criteria can be nominated starting in 2024.

Though the Oscars’ changes won’t be in effect for this year’s show, there are plenty of BIPOC who deserve recognition nonetheless. In the Best Picture category, several BIPOC films could be nominated, but many consider a frontrunner to be Nomadland, directed by Chloé Zhao and to be released on Feb. 19. The film takes place during the recession and depicts a woman traveling through the American West after she loses everything. Another film that could receive a Best Picture nod is One Night in Miami, directed by Regina King and featuring a predominantly Black cast. This feature centers around a fictionalized Miami meeting between Cassius Clay, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Browne in 1964. In the acting categories, Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman (posthumously) may receive Best Actress/Actor for their work on George C. Wolfe’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, about a blues singer and her band. For the Oscars’ Animated Feature category, Soul will likely be a frontrunner. This film follows Joe, a music teacher (voiced by Jamie Foxx), who finds himself in another dimension. Soul is the first Pixar film to feature a Black lead character, and the first to have a Black co-director, Kemp Powers.

In television, Regé-Jean Page caught much attention for his role as Simon Basset in the Netflix series Bridgerton. Another TV series that could receive some attention from the Golden Globes is Lovecraft Country, Misha Green’s 1950s-set series with a largely BIPOC cast.

After decades of BIPOC directors, actors, and other film/TV creators failing to be recognized for their work, hopefully this awards season will bring better news for the films and TV shows of 2020. The next time you’re aimlessly scrolling through Netflix, consider watching one of these (or many other) more diverse picks.