Oscars’ Diversity Quotas Would Disqualify Classic Nominees from ‘Citizen Kane’ to ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington’

Promotional still for the 1941 film, Citizen Kane (RKO Radio Pictures, still photographer Alexander Kahle) Promotional still from the 1939 film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, published in National Board of Review Magazine (Columbia Pictures)
RKO Radio Pictures/Alexander Kahle, Columbia Pictures

Citizen Kane, widely considered the best movie ever made, would not be eligible for Best Picture Oscar consideration in today’s Hollywood. Neither would Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, 12 Angry Men, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,  It’s a Wonderful Life, or 2001: A Space Odyssey.

All of these undisputed Hollywood classics were nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. But none of them would qualify for that nomination today because they fail to meet the new diversity quota rules that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released on Tuesday.

Under those rules, a movie’s cast and crew must reach certain quotas for women, ethnic minorities, disabled, and LGBTQ people. In addition,  movies must meet certain diversity benchmarks in their marketing and internship programs. The new rules are set to go into full effect starting 2024.

The Academy’s new rules are vague and convoluted, leaving a lot of room for interpretation and studio fudging. Movies must meet at least two out of four sets of quotas to qualify for best picture consideration. As best Breitbart News can tell, classic films made decades ago would fail most of those standards since Hollywood studios at the time didn’t have the corporate diversity initiatives that Oscar is now requiring. Many studios didn’t implement until recently.

The new requirements are part of the Academy’s ongoing efforts to diversify itself following the #OscarsSoWhite controversy that started in 2015 and drew media attention to the Oscars’ historic tendency to honor white actors and filmmakers. Since then, the Academy has sought to invite more female and minority voting members, with the latest round of inductees announced in June comprised of 45 percent women and 36 percent ethnic and racial minorities.

Citizen Kane would fail the Oscars’ new test because none of its lead or key supporting actors are racial minorities; fewer than 30 percent of its supporting cast is female, gay, transgender, disabled, or a racial minority; and the movie’s storyline centers on a white, cis-gendered heterosexual male.

The Academy would have to similarly shun Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, whose cast is entirely white.  Sidney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men also fails the test because the entire cast is made up of white male actors.

Many war movies that received best picture nominations would not be recognized today in that category, including Laurence Olivier’s Henry V, Stanley Kramer’s The Caine Mutiny, Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan, Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line, Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, and even last year’s 1917.

Other recent Best Picture nominees that would fail to pass muster include Taxi Driver, Dead Poets SocietyThere Will Be Blood, and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.

Follow David Ng on Twitter @HeyItsDavidNg. Have a tip? Contact me at dng@breitbart.com


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