LOS ANGELES — Octavia Spencer snagged the golden statuette in the Best Supporting Actress category during the 84th Annual Academy Awards ceremonies Sunday. But inevitably there was a sense among some that Viola Davis — her co-star in The Help — was robbed.
“That moment came,” Adams wrote, “when Meryl Streep beat Viola Davis for Best Actress. Davis, who was considered the front-runner for her role as maid Aibileen Clark in The Help, graciously kissed the actress on the cheek as Streep went up to accept her award for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady.”
Taking nothing from the accomplished Streep, it is worth noting what the Los Angeles Times did in the runup to the awards: Oscar voters are overwhelmingly white and male, with a median age of 62, and just 14 percent of the membership younger than 50.
In fact, academy voters “are markedly less diverse than the moviegoing public, and even more monolithic than many in the film industry may suspect,” the study found. “Oscar voters are nearly 94 percent Caucasian and 77 percent male, (while) Blacks are about 2 percent of the academy, and Latinos are less than 2 percent.”
Moreover, given that the academy does not publish a membership list, the roster of all its 5,765 voting members is such a closely guarded secret, even inside the movie industry, that intense speculation surrounds the academy's composition and how that influences who gets nominated for and wins Oscars, the Times said.
“I have to tell you,” academy member Viola Davis was quoted, “I don't even know who is a member of the academy.”
Thus such observations as the New York Times headline, “Even the jokes have wrinkles,” above a piece that said, “The whole night looked like an AARP pep rally.” Host Billy Crystal joked: “When I came out of The Help I wanted to hug the first black woman that I saw, which from Beverly Hills is a 45-minute drive."
“Perhaps Hollywood wasn't prepared for what Davis might say if she won,” wrote Adams regarding the gracious star. “Throughout the awards season, Davis has been outspoken about the lack of roles for women of color.”
Photo: Viola Davis