As most likely know, this past Oscar season marked one interesting change. After four years, President Cheryl Boone Isaacs would be stepping down. This left plenty of options available as to who would lead The Academy going forward. Considering the struggles of diversity regarding youth, gender, and race; it was a conflict that definitely seemed challenging. However, the answer came after a vote on Tuesday night. While many predicted Laura Dern (who has become more active in Academy-related events), the answer was someone a bit more obscure. Ladies and gentlemen, the new President of the American Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) is... John Bailey!
Like all newcomers, the first question to ask is "Who is John Bailey?" To put it in the broadest sense, he is a cinematographer who continues to work to this day (his most recent work being How to Be a Latin Lover). However, his filmography has included such gems as Best Picture winner Ordinary People, Groundhog Day, As Good As It Gets, and Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters. This names just a few of his long and impressive career, which makes it disappointing that he never has received an Oscar nomination. Still, he has been elected as President of The Academy for at least one four year term.
To some extent, there are complaints that Bailey is more in line with what The Academy has been accused of: being full of older white men. While it's unfair to judge him by these standards alone, it does give off a staggering image following Isaacs' plan to have a more diverse Oscar voting block by 2020 (which has been going great). Little is known at this time as to how Bailey will run things. However, it does make the upcoming Oscar season a little bit more interesting, if just because there's a young body voting with someone who has had over 40 years of experience in the business and likely knows how to make things work.
The one advantage is that being a President of The Academy is notoriously difficult and time consuming. It isn't just about putting on The Oscars and Governors Ball. There's lots of other things regarding meetings and voter memberships that actually end up taking a lot of time. I am not aware of what all they are, but in some ways it would be difficult for a younger person to hold a higher authority over The Academy. It requires someone experienced, and Bailey looks to have a career that speaks for itself. Now the question is what he will do with his position. One can only imagine that he will continue to improve diversity and possibly lead us to more Moonlight-like Best Picture winners. That will be seen in time. For now, let's celebrate a new era of Oscar Presidents and hope for the best.