On a recent episode of the Nightly Show, host Larry Wilmore discussed the #OscarsSoWhite issue with his panel. It was a brief discussion, but Wilmore made an observation that did not fully work for me. He asked if black performers are getting offered the opportunities that white performers have.
This was not actually the part that “troubled” me. I think this is true for non-white performers in general. But Wilmore cracked a joke about the Martian starring Kevin Hart not carrying the same weight. And yeah, the Martian starring Kevin Hart suggests a different type of film than the Martian Starring Matt Damon. But then, so does the Martian Starring Will Farrell. Like Hart, Farrell tells me such a film would most likely be some brand of comedy, rather than an Oscar Nominated drama.
Put Idris Elba, David Oyelowo or Chiwetel Ejiofor (admittedly, already in the Martian) in the role of Mark Watney and I suspect you still have an Oscar Nominated performance. I get the joke Wilmore was making, but feel it is kind of unfair to compare a dramatic actor with a comedic actor. It might be more workable if Hart had pulled off the switch from largely comedic based actor to a more multi-layered performer, but he is not there yet.