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Academy invites record number

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has published the list of those invited to join the Academy this year – a record 683 people. The list is more than twice last year’s 322 invitees, which was a record in itself. Predictably, given the Academy’s pronouncements about diversity earlier this year, there’s a much higher proportion of women (465) and non-Caucasians (41%) than previously.

From NZ, Taika Waititi and Cliff Curtis are on the list of invitees as are Weta VFX supervisors Kevin Smith, Martin Hill and Anders Langlands (along with another three former Weta people).

There are 283 invitees from 58 countries beyond the US on this year’s list. Without suggesting that any of the invitees don’t deserve an invitation, the sheer size of the list illustrates the ongoing problems the Academy faces in trying to claim it hasn’t changed its standards. Some of those on the list of invitees undoubtedly deserved Oscar nominations this year (here’s looking at you, Idris Elba), but overall it’s difficult to believe that applying the same standards as last year has produced over twice as many invitees this year.

Similar organisations in other countries automatically invite those nominated for an award in any given year, but AMPAS doesn’t. It considers nominees but doesn’t guarantee an invitation. If it did guarantee invitations, Waititi would have been invited over a decade ago following the nomination of Two Cars, One Night. There’d be a lot more non-US members, purely by dint of the Oscars’ Foreign Language category.

Although they’ve never been Oscar-nominated it’s surprising to see that some of the major Asian auteurs have had to wait until this year for an invitation. Directors Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Naomi Kawase and Park Chan-wook are all on this year’s list – the latter two receiving invitations from more than one branch.

The Academy also appears to have relaxed its criteria around consideration of TV work, with a number of invitations going to people recognised for their smaller screen work – for example actress America Ferrera (Ugly Betty, Superstore) and two-time Emmy winning Australian cinematographer Adam Arkapaw ()Top of the Lake, True Detective.

The full list of invitees is here.

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