Back in September, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced new qualifications that movies will need to meet if they want to contend for an Oscar. The qualifications are meant to increase diversity and representation both in front of as well as behind the camera, asking films and film crews to prove inclusion in ensemble casts, storylines, department heads and other key roles of production.
Many saw this as a commendable step forward for the Academy as a whole, a necessary process that will succeed in implementing more diverse roles in the coming years. Others complained. Because people complain. But when discussing the new qualifications with Variety, Palm Springs star Andy Samberg made it clear that the guidelines should be very easy to work with, stating:
The Oscars thing… people having issues with that are insane. The parameters, if you look at them closely… you can have the ‘whitest’ cast in the history of cinema and still very easily meet them by just doing a few key roles behind the camera. People that have problems with it can fuck off.
Andy Samberg was on the Variety awards podcast to talk about the potential awards run for his time-manipulation comedy Palm Springs, co-starring Cristin Millioti. But the concept of diversity came up as Samberg was talking about his hit NBC sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which boasts a diverse line up of talents. But he was saying that the casting on that show didn’t happen in any way because the producers were trying to tick boxes and meet a diversity need. The creative team simply felt that actors like Stephanie Beatriz, Terry Crews and Melissa Fumero were the funniest people trying out for the parts, and they wanted them in those roles.
But as Samberg points out, diversity hiring behind the scenes could easily meet the requirements that have been laid out by the Academy for a movie that considers itself an Oscar contender. Productions need to meet two of the four announced Standards, and only Standard A addresses lead acting roles, main plotlines, or 30% of an ensemble cast. Standard B gets into leadership roles at the producing studios, encouraging more diverse hiring at the top levels. Standard D, meanwhile, gets into representation in marketing, publicity and distribution. Like Samberg notes, those should be very easy to attain.
Now, the question comes down to, is Palm Springs an awards contender? I could see the film nabbing a Golden Globe nomination. The film also recently did well at the newly created Super Awards, hosted by the Critics’ Choice Association. I’m not sure if it’s Oscar’s cup of tea, but 2020 has been an unusual year, and stranger things certainly have qualified for Oscar gold. We shall see.