Academy Awards

Photo Credit: Lex Rojas | Daily Texan Staff

This year’s Academy Awards nominations saw several of 2014’s critically acclaimed films rewarded for their effort, while the Academy snubbed other prominent films. In a controversial move, the Academy nominated exclusively white actors and actresses in the leading and supporting actor categories. Meanwhile, no women received nominations for Best Director or Best Screenwriter. 

The lack of diversity among the nominees marks a stark distinction from last year’s ceremony, in which “12 Years a Slave” was named Best Picture, and its star, Lupita Nyong’o, won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. The nomination announcements prompted a backlash across multiple social media platforms and led to the trending hashtag #OscarsSoWhite on Twitter.

It is hard to pinpoint why the decision was made, but a deeper look into the demographics of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences reveals a pervasive lack of diversity. A 2012 study done by the Los Angeles Times showed that 93 percent of Academy voters are white, and 73 percent are male. Efforts are underway to create a more inclusive ballot, according to Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy. Isaacs, who is the Academy’s first African-American president, said for the past couple years, the Academy has added more than 400 new voting members with the goal of increasing diversity. However, the Times study revealed that a staggering 87 percent of the members inducted in 2012 were white. In 2013, the percentage of white voters fell to 82 percent.

Public reactions to the nomination have ranged from accusatory to satirical, although Ava DuVernay, director of “Selma,” chose to focus on the film’s nominations for Best Original Song and Best Picture, rather than the fact that she was not nominated for Best Director. On her Twitter profile, DuVernay tweeted “Happy Birthday, Dr. King. An Oscar gift for you. To SELMA cast + crew led by our miracle David Oyelowo! To Common + Legend! Kudos! March on!” If DuVernay had received a nomination for directing “Selma,” she would have been the first black female nominee in the category. Common, whose song “Glory” was nominated, starred in the film as the civil rights activist James Bevel and expressed disappointment in the film’s overall snub. 

Amid the controversy, it was an overwhelmingly good day for Texas filmmakers. The academy rewarded philosophy alumnus Wes Anderson with several nominations for “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” Anderson received his first nomination for Best Director, and the film also snagged nods for Best Picture, Original Screenplay and other categories. Meanwhile, prominent Austinite Richard Linklater has his eyes set on Best Picture and Director for “Boyhood.” 

The ceremony will probably hold its regular audience of loyal viewers, along with its usual number of critics. Neil Patrick Harris is this year’s host, which may be a much-needed boost for the otherwise bland show. 

Correction: This article has been updated from its original version. Wes Anderson is a philosophy alumnus.

Mrs. Carter Show World Tour; Starring Beyonce - Barclays Center show added on December 22nd, tickets on sale Monday, August 12th.

Photo Credit: AP Exchange | Daily Texan Staff

The Video Music Awards hold a hallowed place in the minds of all pop culture fanatics. Unlike the tame Academy Awards and elegant Grammy's, the Video Music Awards are ripe with dramatic proclamations and memorable moments. Here are the Daily Texan's Top 10 Moments:

1. BRITNEY SPEARS DONS A YELLOW PYTHON (2001)

If she's not the queen of pop, she's certainly Video Music Awards royalty. Spears upped the ante for VMA performances when, just "like that," she draped a yellow snake around her shoulders

2. BEYONCE REVEALS HER PREGNANCY (2011)

Just when we thought Beyoncé and Jay-Z couldn't be loved any more, they announced their pregnancy for us on national television. #BLUEIVY

3. BRITNEY SPEARS (AND CHRISTINA AGUILERA) KISS MADONNA (2003)

No one remembers that Madonna kissed Christina Aguilera too in her performance of "Like a Virgin." Watch closely for the quick pan to Justin Timberlake looking like a kicked puppy.

4. KANYE INTERRUPTS TAYLOR SWIFT (2009)

When Taylor Swift won the VMA for "Best Music Video," millions of fans were outraged for Beyoncé's shafted "Single Ladies" performance. Kanye West interrupted Swift's acceptance speech to make sure she knew.

5. LADY GAGA WEARS A MEAT DRESS (2010)

Gaga. In a dress. Made of meat.

6. THE SEA OF EMINEMS (2000)

Find Marshall Mathers, the Real Slim Shady, in this sea of his Eminem lookalikes. This image of dozens of Eminems may have terrified us as children, but it was certainly memorable.

7. BRITNEY SPEARS BECOMES A GROWN WOMAN (2000)

This may be the third Britney Spears moment on this list, but this video is important because it signaled Britney's adulthood.

8. BEYONCE LOWERS FROM THE CEILING (2003)

Being "Crazy in Love" with Beyoncé is easy after you watch her lower down from the ceiling in a harness and dance around in a weave that is to die for.

9. MICHAEL JACKSON PERFORMS FIFTEEN MINUTES OF HITS (1995)

Michael Jackson will always be the King of Pop and his live fifteen minute mashup of "The Way You Make Me Feel," "Black or White," "Billie Jean" and "Beat It" is pop music at its finest.

10. FIONA APPLE CALLS THE WORLD "BULLSH*T" (1997)

Fiona Apple began her acceptance speech sweetly, but it derailed quickly. By the end of her spotlighted moment Apple had sworn at the planet as well as her millions of fans.

Meryl Streep, who won an Oscar for Best Actress for her part in "The Iron Lady," shows off her trophy.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Another Academy Awards goes by and just a few minutes after, the show is all but forgotten (Jean Dujar — who won for Best Actor?). Except for Angelina’s left leg sticking out of her dress, the show was a tame affair, from the traditional host of Billy Crystal to the largely unsurprising winners. Nonetheless, here are a few highlights (both wonderfully stupendous and gut-wrenchingly bad) from last night.

BEST

Meryl Streep

In a night when even the most casual award show-watcher could have predicted the winners, leave it to Meryl Streep to inject some surprise into the show as the winner of Best Actress, inching past frontrunner Viola Davis. And with that speech so humble and eloquent — which included a heartfelt thanks to her makeup artist for years — Streep showed us all how it’s done.

 Acceptance Speeches

Speaking of speeches, it was the acceptances from the winners this year that actually kept the show afloat. While there were the usual naming off a laundry list and the stale jokes (please, no more, “[insert kid’s name here], go to bed now!” comments), Best Supporting Actress winner Octavia Spencer offered an emotional shout-out to her home state of Alabama, while Best Actor winner Jean Dujardin could barely compose himself during his endearing and loving speech.

WORST

Opening Monologue

Having Billy Crystal as host was a safe bet, but having him do yet another opening in which he is injected into the scenes of the nominated films did little to reassure viewers that there would be any creativity last night. Nothing screams cultural relevancy than an appearance by that hot new singer Justin Bieber. The whole thing was mechanical and a desperate attempt at freshness.

Jokes

When even Kristen Wiig and the cast of “Bridesmaids” can’t make you chuckle with some double entendres, you know there’s something wrong with the comedy of the show. Academy, how hard is it to call up Tina Fey?

Introduction of Acting Nominations

While it’s understandable the producers didn’t want to waste precious time or man power to bring out a person with a personal connection to the acting nominees to introduce them, as they have in year’s past, having last year’s winner attempt to offer the acclaim just felt insincere. Natalie Portman barely made it through her stilted reading of the teleprompter while introducing the Best Actor nominees.