LOS ANGELES: Three-time Oscar winning-filmmaker Steven Spielberg expressed his “surprise” that the Academy did not nominate “Straight Outta Compton” for best picture or Beasts of No Nation’s Idris Elba for best supporting actor.
He also criticized the organization for responding by “taking votes away from Academy members who have paid their dues and maybe are retired now”.
“I’m a huge supporter of the Academy Awards,” said Spielberg.
“I was surprised at some of the individuals who were not nominated. I was surprised at (the exclusion of) Idris (Elba). I was surprised at that. I think that was one of the best performances in the supporting actor and the actor category, was Idris. I’ve seen Straight Outta Compton, my wife and I saw it when it first opened, the first weekend, and it just rocked our world. It was incredible. I was very surprised to see that omission.”
However, the filmmaker suggests, recent history should rule out racism as an explanation for those omissions.
“You have to look back a couple of years where Lupita Nyong’o was recognized for 12 Years a Slave [and] 12 Years a Slave won best picture, you know? I don’t believe that there is inherent or dormant racism because of the amount of white Academy members.
“I’m also not 100 per cent sure that taking votes away from Academy members who have paid their dues and maybe are retired now and have done great service maybe they’ve not won a nomination, which would have given them immunity to the new rules, but they have served proudly and this is their industry, too to strip their votes? I’m not 100 per cent behind that.”