Asian Oscar Nominees And The Limits Of Representation

Asian Oscar Nominees And The Limits Of Representation

This morning, nominations for the 2023 Academy Awards came out. Within the entertainment industry, it has already been celebrated as a banner year for Asian representation in Hollywood. The slate includes four nominations for performances by Asian actors, the most in the history of the awards ceremony. Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, and Stephanie Hsu were nominated for Everything everywhere all at onceand Hong Chau received recognition for his role in The Great Whale. Meanwhile, Everything everywhere all at oncea story about a Chinese American family struggling to understand each other across the multiverse, received a total of 11 nominations, the most of any film this year.

Industry publications such as Variety and the Hollywood Reporter have published diversity reports describing next (or almost first) periods among all the names. But using Oscar nomination statistics as evidence of progress for Asian-American artists makes you feel more sane the more you do it.

For example, Hsu and Chau were nominated for Best Supporting Actor, the first time two Asian actors were in that category. That’s pretty simple. Considering that there are five white men competing for Best Actor this year, the presence of two Asian women in one performance category stands out. But then there is the fact that Daniel Kwan, half of the Everything everywhere all at once The duo, directed by the Daniels, is the third Asian filmmaker to be nominated for a “hat trick,” collecting nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Look. Kwan’s achievements as a director are impressive, but this statistical trove reflects the lonely philosophy of looking for historical achievements in award nominations.

Hearing about increasingly specific honors – where any artist of color could be named the first, second or third person to achieve it – reduces the artist’s success to a pat on the head among other artists of their generation. And it includes the differences between the works of artists of the same race. Bong Joon-ho and ChloĆ© Zhao are the other two Asian filmmakers nominated for hat tricks, nominated for 2019’s. A parasite and 2020s Nomadland respectively. But these three films have little in common beyond the race of their highly acclaimed auteurs. A parasite is a suspenseful Korean class satire, Nomadland is a naturalistic adaptation of a book about seasonal workers in America after the great recession, and Everything everywhere all at once It’s a campy, colorful hybrid of family drama and sci-fi saga. Their tones, intentions and content barely overlap. They only relate to each other because of this awarding ceremony; emphasizing their shared generation strengthens the credibility of the Oscars but diminishes the individual oeuvre of the directors.

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