Friday, June 14, 2024

Looming: A Return to An All White Oscars as Fall Season Has Few Potential Black Nominees


Uh oh.

After such a great year this past year with making the Academy more multicultural, trouble is on the horizon.

There are few potential black nominees for the Oscars. Very few. This is quite a snap back to reality after last season was such a success broadening out the Oscars. “Moonlight” won Best Picture, and the two supporting actors were black– Viola Davis and Mahershala Ali.

Denzel Washington has potential as the title character in “Roman Israel,” directed by Dan Gilroy. Octavia Spencer is always compelling, so her part in “The Shape of Water” could bring her back into the game. Washington and Spencer are past Oscar winners.

Otherwise, things look dim.

The thee big “black” movies have come out already: “Detroit,” “Get Out” and “Girl Trip.” “Detroit” scored nearly all rave reviews, but audiences didn’t see it. Kathryn Bigelow’s important feature could come back, but it might be an uphill battle.

“Get Out” and “Girls Trip” were terrific, but the first was a horror film and the second was a comedy. They’re just no Oscar material despite their big box office returns.

Only the indie, “Mudbound,” which has a black female director– Dee Rees– might come through. But the main actors in it are all white. The black actors, save for Jason Mitchell, have supporting roles. Mitchell is also featured in “Detroit.” This week he had a meltdown on a Delta flight that made it to TMZ. It’s unclear if that would affect his chances at awards (I should hope it wouldn’t– he was in the right.)

Combing through all the Oscar-level releases of 1017, including “Dunkirk,” it sure looks like another white out. Even a movie like “Murder on the Orient Express,” which could have been cast with people of any color, is basically a snow storm. The only black actor in it is Leslie Odom, Jr., and his part doesn’t seem particularly large.

But unless there’s some major surprise at one of the imminent film festivals, the situation for this coming awards season appears to be dire.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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