Monday, January 22, 2018

Countdown to the 90th Academy Awards

The Oscar nominations will be announced early tomorrow morning.  How early?  At 5:22am Pacific Time.  I'll be up.  For me, the day the Oscar nominations come out is like the football game that determines which two teams will be headed to the Super Bowl.  This year, I'm so anxious and excited to see if Black History and Women In Film History will be made when the nominations are revealed.  If Octavia Spencer makes the list of nominees for Best Supporting Actress, she will make Black History for women in Hollywood.  This nomination could come for her excellence in the perfectly-timed Resistance sci-fi drama, THE SHAPE OF WATER from Mexican director Guillermo del Toro.  Ms. Spencer plays the black cleaning woman in a secret U.S. government facility of the early 1960s who, along with a vocally disabled Latina and a gay middle-aged man, helps gets an abused human-like sea creature from a foreign country to safety.
The creature has arms and legs and the ability to communicate via sign language.  He can communicate with the mute woman.  If Octavia gets a nomination, it will be her third Oscar nomination.  That will tie her with Viola Davis and make them the two most Oscar-nominated black actresses in all Oscar history.  Viola Davis is currently the record holder with her three Oscar nominations which include her Best Supporting Actress win last year for FENCES.  Three nominations is a major achievement for African American film actresses but it still puts them behind white actresses such as Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts, Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence.  Actresses who, let's face, had more script opportunities after receiving that first Oscar nomination than black, Latina and Asian actresses did.
I will cheer if Dee Rees gets a Best Director nomination for her remarkable film, MUDBOUND. She deserves it.  She directed and co-wrote this film -- a work that makes my Top 5 list of films released in 2017.  Dees Rees could make Black History and Women In Film history.  Rachel Morrison could make --- and should make -- Women In Film history if nominated for Best Cinematographer.  She'd be the first woman to get an Oscar nomination in that category.
I wrote about MUDBOUND in my previous post.  I highly recommend you see it on a big screen.  I want to see it again and I want to see it on a big screen.  I saw on Netflix and felt like giving it a standing ovation even though I was alone here in the apartment.  The cinematography is breathtaking, the kind we got from Hollywood masters such as James Wong Howe (YANKEE DOODLE DANDY, PICNIC, HUD), Nestor Almendros (SOPHIE'S CHOICE, DAYS OF HEAVEN), Caleb Deschanel (THE BLACK STALLION) and John A. Alonzo (SOUNDER, CHINATOWN).

Jordan Peele.  Let's see if gets a Best Original Screenplay Oscar nomination and one for Best Director with his critical and box office hit, GET OUT.
The nominees will be announced like on ABC's GOOD MORNING AMERICA.  If an entertainment reporter says that Jordan Peele could be a long shot to be a Best Director nomination because GET OUT was his directorial debut .... or if he does get nominated and entertainment reporters happily surprised because it seemed impossible, consider this:
Orson Welles made his directorial debut with 1941's CITIZEN KANE.  His film brought him Oscar nominations for Best Director, Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay.  Orson Welles' CITIZEN KANE was also nominated for Best Picture.

Let's see how Jordan Peele makes out tomorrow.  And director/writer Greta Gerwig.  And WONDER WOMAN director Patty Jenkins.  The Oscars will be handed out on March 4th.

I know I've written about the gap in the number of Oscar nominations between white actresses and black and other minority actresses -- but entertainment reporters on TV and in print should think about it.  Today, Viola Davis is the most Oscar-nominated black actress in Hollywood history.  She has 3 nominations.  She's behind the white actresses I mentioned in this post -- Kidman, Blanchett, Julia Roberts, Amy Adams and relative newcomer Jennifer Lawrence.

Rita Moreno, Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner for WEST SIDE STORY (1961)
Miyoshi Umeki, Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner for SAYONARA (1957)
Halle Berry, Best Actress Oscar winner for MONSTER'S BALL (2001)
Ruby Dee
Cicely Tyson
Diahann Carroll
Angela Bassett
Alfre Woodard
Beah Richards
Taraji P. Henson
Gabourey Sidibe

All those women have one Oscar nomination each in their credits.  Just about all of them turned to TV for steady work because Hollywood did not have a lot of good film script opportunities for them.  This is why we need to keep the fires burning under the diversity and inclusion issues.

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