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Siskel Center panelists talk Oscar noms, gender disparity

Siskel Center panelists talk Oscar noms, gender disparity

The Gene Siskel Film Center held the 89th Academy Awards Nominations Panel on January 24, 2017 in Chicago. The hour-long event included J.R. Jones of the Chicago Reader, Pamela Powell of The Daily Journal, Sergio Mims of Shadow & Act, Ray Pride of New City and Dean Richards of WGN-Radio. Moderator Alison Cuddy began the panel with a warning, “If you're coming for a civilized conversation on the joys of film that's not what's on deck.” The panelists and invitees were  there “to second guess, dis and quarrel” with the Academy’s picks.

The panelists' discussion touched on diversity, with Richards and Mims noting the increase in minority nominations.“Most Black films are independently made outside the studio system,” said Mims, a decades-long proponent of the Black Harvest Film Festival. “There are many really interesting Black independent films out there. They’re not going to be picked up by a studio or not even by Netflix or Amazon.”  

Along with the “Oscars So White” discussion, the “Oscars So Male” was touched on by Powell, who reflected on the lack of female nominations, "I thought we were making progress, we're back down again." She said that women were not growing in the industry and found it "a little disturbing."

While there were serious discussions on race and gender, there were also some amusing moments, including the six nominations for the “heavy handed and drawn-out” Manchester by the Sea.While Powell and Richards were impressed with the film, Mims chimed in,“I must’ve seen a different movie.”

Jackie, what Ray Pride calls a mask about the mask,” was another let-down for the panelists, who learned nothing new about Jackie Kennedy Onassis.While there was much debate over the nominated films, there were also talks of snubs, including Disney Pixar’s Finding Dory and Clint Eastwood’s Sully.

The 89th Annual Academy Awards will air February 26, 2017 on ABC.

© Stephanie A. Taylor (1/20/17) FF2 Media

Photo: Michelle Williams and Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea

Photo Credit: Amazon Studios