Film & Television

Oscars Preview: The Academy Celebrates Diversity — And Some Damn Good Movies

Finally, Moonlight is a more contemporary coming-of-age tale about a young black man who struggles with his identity in a world of poverty, drugs and violence. Chiron, who lives with his addicted mother finds an unlikely surrogate family in local dealer Juan and his girlfriend. The moving but eventually uplifting film is nominated for eight Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director (Barry Jenkins), Best Screenplay (Barry Jenkins again), Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali), Best Supporting Actress (Naomie Harris), Cinematography, Editing, and Music.

Jenkins is the only black director nominated, and once again, there are no women represented for Best Director. Women are almost absent from the two Screenplay categories, with the exception of Allison Schroeder who co-adapted Hidden Figures with Theodore Melfi, based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly.

As usual, however, women are well represented in the categories of Best Make-Up and Costume (in fact, there are no men nominated for Best Costume at all this year). And, we can always count on ten nominees and two winners in the Actress categories.

For Best Actress in a Leading Role, we have the virtually annual inclusion of Meryl Streep. (I thoroughly enjoyed Florence Foster Jenkins, but I don’t think Streep’s delightful turn in it holds up against some of her competition this year.) Natalie Portman is nominated for iconic first lady Jackie. Isabelle Huppert as a rape victim in Elle. Emma Stone has already won a Golden Globe for La La Land. And Ruth Negga (who is my favorite here, but may lose to Stone or Portman) is up for her deeply moving role in Loving.

The news in the Supporting Actress category is that three out of the five nominees are women of color. Viola Davis is most likely to win for her incredible work in Fences. (I would argue that she should have been in the Best Actress category rather than Supporting.) Octavia Spencer is being honored for Hidden Figures. And, Naomie Harris for her role as the drug-addicted mother in Moonlight. The other two nominees include Michelle Williams for Manchester by the Sea, and Nicole Kidman for Lion.

Any and all of these tremendous women deserve recognition for outstanding work this year.


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