Sir Michael Caine is one of the most respected actors in Hollywood, so when he speaks, people tend to listen. The man has lost more Oscars than most actors have ever been nominated for, so his opinion about the recent Oscar nomination controversy holds weight. While Caine admits that there was, at least, one Oscar-worthy performance from a black actor this year, he doesn’t see the lack of nominations as a major issue.
Michael Caine was being interview by the BBC when he was asked about his thoughts on the controversy. His initial comments are very simple. You vote for the best performances. Period. End of story.
You can’t vote for an actor because he’s black. You can’t just say, ‘I’m going to vote for him. He’s not very good, but he’s black. I’ll vote for him.’ You have to give a good performance.
To be fair to those who are upset about the nominations, nobody is arguing that people who were not very good should be nominated. A number of black filmmakers did solid work this year. Whether it’s Ryan Coogler’s direction of Creed or Will Smith in Concussion, there were a number of nominations that nobody would have questioned had they occurred.
What’s truly clear in Caine’s comments, is that while he thinks there are some great black actors who might have deserved nominations, he doesn’t believe that there was anything behind the lack of nominations. Caine points out that he himself won a Best Actor award at the European Film Awards at the end of 2015 for his movie Youth, but has received no other major nominations, much less wins. He takes it in stride as just one of things that happens with awards.
There was, at least, one nominations of a black actor that Michael Caine would have liked to have seen. He comments in the interview that he thought Idris Elba was "wonderful" in Beasts of No Nation, and deserved a nomination. Although, Caine has to ask the interviewer if Elba received a nomination because he doesn’t actually know what all the nominations are. That's awesome.
The reason he doesn’t really know is apparently because he doesn’t really care. He actually makes a joke that the upside of not being nominated is that you don’t have to waste your time going to the ceremony, which for him is quite a trip. It's especially nice this year when Michael Caine just expects he would end up clapping for Leonardo DiCaprio, anyway. Don't we all assume that?
Michael Caine certainly won't put an end to the controversy with his own words. Do you agree with Caine that the lack of diversity was just the random chance of the nomination process?