This year, Carrie Mae Weems gets the distinctive honor of becoming the first African-American woman to have a retrospective at the Guggenheim — her first major exhibition at any New York museum, ever. It’s one of those honors that sits at an awkward intersection, both disappointing and profound.
The dust has now begun to settle in the wake of the release of Spring Breakers, director Harmony Korine’s highly anticipated and now much-debated crime drama about four college co-eds who go on a crime spree during a holiday in Florida. By now, even if you haven’t seen the movie, you probably know a few things about it.
In 2009, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences sparked a flurry of debate when it was announced that the Best Picture category for the Oscar would be expanded from five to ten nominees. According to then-academy president Sid Ganis, the increased number would “allow Academy voters to recognize and include some of the fantastic movies that often show up in the other Oscar categories, but have been squeezed out of the race for the top prize.” Much of the discussion hinged on whether a lengthened list of nominees would somehow diminish the prestige of the award — that year genre films like Avatar and District 9 were recognized alongside more traditional Oscar-bait like An Education and The Hurt Locker. The legitimacy of the Academy Awards, some critics declared, was diminished.
Last month, British actor Jim Sturgess sent a tweet to his 40,000 followers which read: “Yellowface? Blackface? Pinkface? Pinkberry? Blueberry? Strawberry? Bananas? Frozen Yogurt? All the toppings? … Lovely!” The message was Sturgess’s veiled response to recent criticism of his role in the upcoming science fiction epic Cloud Atlas. Sturgess, along with stars Halle Berry, Tom Hanks, Hugo Weaving, Ben Whishaw, and Hugh Grant plays not one but six different characters in the movie.