Last year, everyone was angry because the Academy Awards snubbed virtually every black contender. However, as I pointed out, there were very few non-white contenders in the first place. This year though? Hollywood has pulled out all the stops, and this year it would be near impossible to ignore the contenders. In fact, if the Academy Awards DID manage to do so, I’d have to assume it was a secret branch of the KKK. Here’s a rundown of how impossibly hard it would be to ignore minorities this year.
Possibly the strongest reason the Oscars will be populated with color. It’s a basic lock for Best Picture, and Mahershala Ali is the frontrunner for Supporting Actor right now. Director Barry Jenkins should get a director nod. Naomie Harris has a decent shot at a Supporting Actress nod too. This film has been making huge waves heading into awards season. Its nominated for six Golden Globes, three SAG awards, won the AFI award for Best Picture, and got 10 BFCA nominations among other awards. Overlooking Moonlight at this point would start a riot, only because it seems like such an incredible lock.
Denzel is in the running for Best Actor AND Best Director. The Director thing is huge, because both Jenkins and Washington could feasibly be nominated for Best Director. Add to that Viola Davis being a frontrunner for either a Supporting Actress or even a Lead Actress nomination, and Fences is another lock for awards season. It managed 2 Golden Globe nominations, three SAG nomination, an AFI Best Picture, and six BFCA noms.
Its important to note that #OscarsSoWhite doesn’t mean #MakeOscarsBlack. Dev Patel is a solid lock for Supporting Actor for Lion, which definitely adds some color into a race that already includes Ali from Moonlight.
The film about a groundbreaking interracial marriage court case could score Ruth Negga a Best Actress nomination, as well as the film being in the running for a Best Picture nomination.
All three women are in the race, Taraji P Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae. Best case scenario, they get one Actress, and two Supporting. That could put as many as four black actresses in the Supporting Actress race if a perfect storm of Davis, Spencer, Monae, and Harris got in. Michelle Williams is a virtual lock, so there won’t be five.
Yes, the main characters are all white actors, but Issei Ogata is in the race for Supporting Actor. And as I already pointed out with Dev Patel, color is color. Nominating an Asian actor is still a step in the right direction.
The Birth of A Nation
Don’t count this out yet. It’s an Oscar bait film, and it is possible people could turn their opinions around and sneak in some nomination. Sure, people are not super excited about nominating Nate Parker, but it is still in the conversation… even if its just a murmur.
So the Oscars have made a lot of progress in one year, hopefully. However, now we have to work on getting more latino contenders. There are almost none, even barely in the race. There are a few directors, Pablo Larrain (Jackie) and JA Bayona (A Monster Calls), but the acting categories are bare. Zoe Saldana could be a surprise exception for Live By Night, but that film isn’t getting much traction and she got a lot of flack for playing Nina Simone.
So we’re making progress. It all starts with making movies, and casting actors, and that is proving to be hugely successful this year. This year, the roles are there, and it would be next to impossible for the Oscars to ignore them even if they didn’t boost the voting pool. Hopefully this isn’t just a one year fluke, and we can continue this trend in 2017, and maybe throw in some latino contenders?