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Patton Oswalt on Selma’s Oscar Snub and the Racist Backlash to the New Star Wars Trailer

Photo: Michael Tran/2015 Michael Tran

When the Oscar nominations were announced two weeks ago, Patton Oswalt mocked the Academy on Twitter for snubbing Selma. So, last week, Vulture spoke with Oswalt before he took the stage to host this year’s Artios Awards in Beverly Hills and had him expound upon his comments. Oswalt proceeded to go off. Here is what he had to say:

On Selma’s snubbing:
“The thing about Selma that bothers me: It’s just logic. It goes beyond race. So it’s a best movie nominee, and yet none of the performances, none of the writing, none of the directing, none of the cinematography — none of them did an Oscar-worthy job, but the movie is Oscar-worthy. That doesn’t make sense. It’s a little alarming when you don’t have a year in movies that celebrates what a fantastic year of films it really was. I wish it had gotten more, especially performance-wise. David Oyelowo lost the director of the movie partway into it [Lee Daniels was originally attached in 2010, but eventually left the project], so on top of having to carry a movie as Martin Luther King Jr., he was also basically keeping the movie afloat. It’s insane the fact that we got the performance that we got out of him, with all the other pressure on that guy’s back. And then in the same year, he’s in A Most Violent Year, playing the complete opposite of what he did in Selma — he’s a cop, but he’s very, very controlled, and focused, and very un–Martin Luther King–like. What more could he have done, acting-range-wise?” 

The silver lining:
“Look, this is what’s good and bad about the Academy: The bad thing is that sometimes they miss really amazing performances and movies, but the good thing is that they create these kind of arguments. It’s creating so much conversation about Selma that more people are curious and going to see it. The silver lining is hopefully more eyes are on them. However, it would also be good if they got a little more award attention.”

Next year:
“I want next year to be better, but not in a reflexive way. I just want everything to get a completely fair shake. Even beyond white or black, there’s Asian people, gay people, women. I mean, women are just so underrepresented in directing, in editing, in screenwriting.”

The negative response to John Boyega dressed as a storm trooper in the first Star Wars: Episode VII trailer:
“Oh, that’s depressing, Jesus Christ. Star Wars, half the movie is aliens and robots, and a black guy is what set people off? I love how they’re reacting as if this is a classic novel that’s being cast — ‘I can’t believe they booked James Earl Jones to play Holden Caulfield.’ But this is a script that no one has read, so what the fuck are they talking about? If everyone in the original Star Wars had been black, it still would have been a goddamn blockbuster because the movie would have still been awesome. If Star Wars had been Richard Pryor and Cicely Tyson, people still would have gone, ‘This movie’s fucking great!’”

Hope for the future:
“[The movie business] is in trouble right now, so movies are getting more awesome. They are losing people going to theaters, so they’re dealing with it in a lot of ways by taking more chances. We should celebrate and reward those chances.”

Patton Oswalt on Selma’s Oscar Snub and More