It’s Oscar Night for the 81st time.
We’ve got a bonafide takeover by people of color; they just happen to be from India. Slumdog Millionaire. Shout out to Loveleen Tandan, the Indian female co-director who could not be nominated due to Oscar rules that mandate one nominee for director (which, after tonight, may need to change). ‘Nuff said.
This year, women of color dominate the Best Supporting Actress category. For the third time in history, we have two African American women up for Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis for 8 minutes of sheer awe-inspiring power with Meryl Streep in that scene where they take a walk in Doubt, and Taraji P. Henson for her absorbing portrayal of Benjamin Button’s momma across the decades in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Hispanic powerhouse Penelope Cruz is vying for Oscar too, for her nuanced performance in the acclaimed Vicky Christina Barcelona. (editor’s note: Cruz won).
This feels REALLY good. I was loving the takeover by women last year as Diablo Cody snagged Best Screenplay for Juno and woman producer Eva Orner won for Best Documentary feature (Taxi To The Dark Side).
I marvel at the velocity with which Black actors are being nominated and winning in the late 20th and throughout the 21st Century thus far. For example: Hattie McDaniel was the first Black actor male or female to win Best Supporting Actress (Gone With The Wind, 1939). It took 51 years for that to happen again with Whoopi Goldberg’s win in the same category (Ghost, 1990). By comparison, it has been full throttle for sistas in the new millennium: eleven years after Whoopi’s victory, Halle wins Best Actress (Monster’s Ball, 2001) and Jennifer Hudson earns Best Supporting a mere five years later (Dreamgirls, 2006).
With all this talk of velocity, domination and match-ups the basketball junkie in me perked up. What OTHER Black head-to-head match-ups have there been in Oscar history? Check these out.African American Oscar Nominee Match-ups (Asterisk denotes winners):
Best Supporting Actress
1967: Carol Channing [yes-she is biracial] (Thoroughly Modern Millie) vs. Beah Richards (Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner)
1985: Margaret Avery vs. Oprah Winfrey (The Color Purple) Both nominated from the same film for the first and only time ever!
2008: Viola Davis (Doubt) vs. Taraji P.Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)
Best Actress in A Leading Role
1972: Diana Ross (Lady Sings The Blues) vs. Cicely Tyson (Sounder)
Best Supporting Actor
1987: Denzel Washington (Cry Freedom) vs. Morgan Freeman (Street Smart)
2004: *Morgan Freeman (Million Dollar Baby) vs. Jamie Foxx (Collateral). A lion bests Foxx in an upset.
2006: Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond) vs. Eddie Murphy (Dreamgirls)
Best Actor in a Leading Role
2001: *Denzel Washington (Training Day) vs. Will Smith (Ali). Bad KOs pretty!
2004: *Jamie Foxx (Ray) vs. Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda) As two real life figures brought to the big screen compete, the Foxx comes back to win in his second nominated category of that year.
2006: *Forest Whitaker (The Last King Of Scotland) vs. Will Smith (The Pursuit of Happyness). In a battle between two true stories, the dictator beats the stockbroker.
I was wondering about all the Oscar History African Americans have made, and Wikipedia satisfied all my queries!
Did you know:
The first Black person EVER nominated for Best Cinematography is Remi Adefarasin for Elizabeth (1998).
Only two Black costume designers have ever been nominated with both nominated twice, Ruth E. Carter (Malcolm X, 1992 and Amistad, 1997) and Sharen Davis (Ray, 2004 and Dreamgirls, 2006).
Hugh A. Robertson is the only Black person ever nominated for Best Editing (Midnight Cowboy, 1969).
We have experienced solid victories in music and sound. We know about wins by Best Score winners Prince (Purple Rain, 1984) and Herbie Hancock (Round Midnight, 1986). We always celebrate Best Original Song winners Isaac Hayes (Shaft, 1968) , Irene Cara (Flashdance, 1983), Lionel Richie (White Nights, 1985), and Stevie Wonder (The Woman In Red, 1984) and most recent winners Three 6 Mafia (Hustle & Flow, 2005).
But on the technical side for film sound, only TWO brothers have ever been nominated for Best Sound, and EACH have won twice!
Willie D. Burton (seven time nominee) winning for Bird (1988) and Dreamgirls (2006)
Russell Williams II (two-time nominee with a 100% success rate) winning both times, back-to-back wins for Glory (1989) and Dances With Wolves (1990)
All of these stellar achievers are truly the best in the business, and I am compelled to give them their props!
The Oscars will never be the end-all be all measurement of our achievement, nor should they be. However, our strides over the years are a big deal if you ask me. Posting the link (below) so you can see how far we’ve come. You’ll make some connections of your own; enjoy them all and revel in our progress by any means necessary!
Tags: 2009 Oscar nominees, Black Oscar History, Black Oscar Winners, Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Denzel Washington, Doubt, Halle Berry, Jamie Foxx, Loveleen Tandan, Oprah Winfrey, Penelope Cruz, Slumdog Millionaire, Taraji P. Henson, Viola Davis, Whoopi Goldberg, Will Smith