For the second consecutive year, all 20 actors nominated for Academy Awards are white — and two of Hollywood's most prominent black voices have announced that they plan to boycott this year's ceremony over the glaring lack of diversity.
In an Instagram post commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. Day, director Spike Lee — who received an honorary Oscar just a few months ago — said he and hs wife won't attend this year's Oscar ceremony. "Dr. King said, 'There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but he must take it because conscience tells him it's right," wrote Lee. "For too many years when the Oscars nominations are revealed, my office phone rings off the hook with the media asking me my opinion about the lack of African-Americans and this year was no different."
In a video posted to her official Facebook page, Jada Pinkett Smith said she believed African-Americans should "pull back our resources and put them back into our communities" instead of seeking affirmation or approval from the Academy. "I will not be at the Academy Awards, and I won't be watching," she said.
Both Lee and Smith stressed that they meant no specific disrespect to host Chris Rock, who is black. The Academy Awards ceremony will air on February 28. Scott Meslow
It's official: Chris Rock will host the 88th annual Academy Awards ceremony.
— Chris Rock (@chrisrock) October 21, 2015
There's no great surprise here — on Tuesday, numerous trade outlets reported that Rock was in serious talks to host, with a formal announcement expected shortly.
Chris Rock previously hosted the Oscars in 2005, earning mostly strong reviews from critics — but a bizarre rebuke from Sean Penn, who objected to a gag about his All the King's Men co-star Jude Law:
The 88th annual Academy Awards will be held on February 28, 2016. Scott Meslow
Bad news, filmmakers: a Best Picture nomination might soon be much harder to achieve. According to The Hollywood Reporter, a "significant fraction" of Academy voters are pushing for the organization to switch back to 5 Best Picture nominees, reversing an expansion of the field that was made just six years ago.
In the immediate aftermath of the perceived snubbing of 2008's The Dark Knight, the expansion which was widely regarded as an attempt to get more popular movies nominated for Best Picture — but some Academy members reportedly feel that nominating more films has diluted the value of the award.
Under current Academy rules, a maximum of 10 movies can be nominated for Best Picture; this year, eight movies were nominated. Scott Meslow
In a powerful acceptance speech for the Best Adapted Screenplay trophy, The Imitation Game writer Graham Moore dedicated his Oscar to teenagers who are struggling to fit in.
"[Imitation Game subject] Alan Turing never got to stand on a stage like this and look out at all these disconcertingly attractive faces," said Moore. "And I do. And that's the most unfair thing I think I've ever heard."
"So in this brief time here, what I want to use it to do is to say this: When I was 16 years old, I tried to kill myself, because I felt weird, and I felt different. And I felt like I did not belong."
"And now I'm standing here, and I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she's weird, or she's different, or she doesn't fit in anywhere. Yes, you do. I promise you do. Stay weird, stay different. And then when it's your turn, and you are standing on this stage, please pass that same message to the next person who comes along." Scott Meslow
John Legend: 'There are more black men under correctional control today then there were under slavery'
In an emotional acceptance speech for the Best Original Song Oscar, John Legend explained the motivation behind "Glory," the song he co-wrote for Selma with Common.
"Nina Simone said it's an artist's duty to reflect the times in which we live," said Legend. "We wrote this song for a film that was based on events that were 50 years ago. But we say Selma is now, because the struggle for justice is right now.
"We know that the Voting Rights Act that they fought for 50 years ago is being compromised right now, in this country, today. We know that right now, the struggle for freedom and justice is real. We live in the most incarcerated country in the world. There are more black men under correctional control today then there were under slavery in 1850."
"When people are marching with our song, we want to tell you we are with you. We see you, we love you, and march on. God bless you."
Curious about this year's Best Animated Short winner? Fortunately, you won't need to look hard to find Disney's Feast:
Feast, which originally screened before Big Hero 6, follows an adorable dog with a particularly robust appetite. Scott Meslow
Curious about Ida, the Polish movie that just won Best Foreign Language Film at the 87th annual Academy Awards? Unlike the vast majority of the movies nominated for awards at tonight's ceremony, you won't need to look very far to find it.
Ida is currently available streaming for both Netflix and Amazon Prime subscribers. If you don't subscribe to either of those services, you can stream it on YouTube for just $3.99. Give it a look here. Scott Meslow
Host Neil Patrick Harris kicked off the 87th annual Academy Awards with a spirited musical number honoring the history of Hollywood:
Come for the jokes, and stay for the holograms. Scott Meslow