For the first time in 10 years the Oscar nominees in the five major individual categories (director, actor, actress, supporting actor, supporting actress) may all be white. In a recent article by Gregg Kilday and Matthew Beloni in The Hollywood Reporter it is observed that the current batch of frontrunners for this year’s top Academy Awards are among the whitest group the Oscars have seen in a long time. The twenty-five likely nominees do not include any performers or directors of color and even the alternates and people who only have a small shot are a very pasty bunch.
This change is quite a difference from last year, which featured one of only two black Best Director nominees in Oscar history as well as one acting winner and three other nominees of color. Lee Daniels received acclaim and a nomination for his direction of the film Precious, which also earned its star Gabourey Sidibe a Best Actress nomination and Mo’Nique a Best Supporting Actor win. In the Best Actor category Morgan Freeman received his fifth nomination for portraying South African leader Nelson Mandella. There was also the beautiful and talented Spanish star Penelope Cruz who found her way into the Best Supporting Actress race.
In 2010 the best hope for some color at the Oscars lies with Cruz’s husband, Javier Bardem, who has received widespread acclaim for his brooding performance in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Biutiful. Bardem sits right on the edge of the Best Actor category and will need some precursor support in order to make the final cut. Other remote possibilities for minority nominations include Palestinian actress Hiam Abbass whose performance in Julian Schnabel’s Miral seemed to be the only thing critics can agree on.
Looking at this year’s frontrunners, it’s easy to see how the whiteness overwhelms. Leading the pack is The King’s Speech, about the British Royal Family, The Social Network, about rich white kids at Harvard, 127 Hours, about one white guy, The Kid’s Are All Right, about a white family, Black Swan, about white New York ballerinas, True Grit, a Western which are notoriously white, and Another Year, about white British people.
The one film that is hoping to add some color to the 83rd Academy Awards is Tyler Perry’s For Colored Girls, based on the 1975 Broadway play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf. The film is a more serious turn for Perry whose films up to this point have had a very deliberate target audience and never been on the Academy’s radar. For Colored Girls boasts a brilliant cast featuring Whoopi Goldberg, Thandie Newton, Anika Noni Rose, Kerry Washington, Janet Jackson, Macy Gray, and Loretta Devine. Early buzz has said that Newton and Jackson may be possible contenders for a supporting actress nomination, but with Perry at the helm the film is not likely to get the Academy traction it needs.
Check out the trailer for the film below and let me know what you think of race in the Oscar race.