Oscars

Celebrating the Diversity of the 2019 Oscars

Nsenga K. Burton

Ruth Carter earned a nomination for Best Costume Design and Hanna Beachler is nominated for Best Production Design for Black Panther. It is lovely to see Carter, whose amazing body of work goes back to 1988 with Spike Lee’s School Daze, is finally getting the recognition she deserves, having long been honored in African-American film circles. Beachler’s nomination makes her the first African-American to be recognized in this category. Spike Lee’s first-ever nomination for Best Director for BlacKkKlansman is also history-making.

The Best – and Award-Worthy – Films of 2018

Dwight Brown

An unlikely story, based on true events, features the best acting duo of the year. The brilliant scholarly actor Mahershala Ali plays a concert pianist who is driven around the South, in 1962, by a burly Italian chauffeur/bodyguard played hysterically by Viggo Mortensen. The most unlikely director in the world, Peter Farrelly (Dumb and Dumber), tells the tale with a nod and a wink and peppers it with social and racial themes, real drama and historical facts. An organic crowd-pleaser.

Daniel Day-Lewis and the End of a Hollywood Era

Karolina Tagaris

Day-Lewis, 60, the only man to have won three lead actor Oscars, shocked the film world in June by announcing, without explanation, that he was retiring as an actor. His decision came after he finished filming “Phantom Thread,” a dark romance set in 1950s postwar London which took director Paul Thomas Anderson two years to research and write.

Dear Oscars: Don’t Do to ‘Moonlight’ What You Did to These Black Films

Lawrence Ware

This is a historic year, but I’ve learned to temper my enthusiasm about black folks winning Academy Awards. While winning the coveted Oscar is often considered the high mark of one’s career, there are many examples of when the academy failed to recognize the best film made in a given year or even the best actor or actress nominated. I will never forgive the academy for failing to nominate Do the Right Thing for best picture. That year the Oscar went to Driving Miss Daisy.

Oscar-Nominated Doc Brings Back James Baldwin’s Voice for New Generation

Damaso Reyes

If you think the height of documentary filmmaking comes from the brain of Ken Burns, Peck’s taut exploration of the life of one of America’s literary geniuses will come as a welcome revelation. Yes, there is archival footage mixed in with contemporary imagery, but there are no talking heads. There are no historians or professors emeritus explaining what we have or are about to see on-screen. For the most part, we simply have Baldwin himself, alternating mostly between frustration and indignation and occasionally bemusement.

Why Do the Oscars Ignore Actors of Color?

Jacqueline Keeler

Even films like “Creed” and “Straight Outta Compton” which were viewed as Oscar contenders only garnered nominations for Sylvester Stallone and white writers Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff. And, unsurprisingly, after 88 years there are still no Oscar nominations for Native American actors or filmmakers or writers. Indians have been a part of Hollywood at least as long as the cowboy. But the struggle to disentangle our modern selves from the old storylines set up at the dawn of the medium of cinema continues into the 21st century.

‘American Sniper,’ ‘Strange Magic’ Arrive on Home Video

Forrest Hartman

Director Clint Eastwood’s meditation on the life of Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle was the hit of the movie award’s season. It won only a single Oscar (for sound editing), but it was up for six awards including best picture, and it grossed more than all the other best picture nominees combined. In other words, the film was a critical darling as well as a box-office smash, a combination that is difficult to achieve.    

‘The Imitation Game,’ ‘Wild’ Arrive on Home Video

Forrest Hartman

“The Imitation Game” won only a single Academy Award (best adapted screenplay for Graham Moore) in February, but the movie’s nomination tally is a better representation of its quality. The tightly paced suspense film, which depicts key moments in the life of British computer pioneer Alan Turing, received eight nominations, including nods for best picture, best director, best actor and best supporting actress. 

‘Whiplash,’ ‘Big Hero 6’ Arrive on Home Video

Forrest Hartman

In “Whiplash,” J.K. Simmons plays Terrence Fletcher, a college music professor so brutal and intense that he is literally capable of making students ill. It’s a role Simmons inhabits completely, and it has, quite correctly, become one of the most celebrated performances of the movie awards season. Fletcher is, in the simplest sense, a monster. But he is also capable of inspiring his students to greatness.

6 Reason Why ’12 Years a Slave’ Matters

Genetta M. Adams

Director Steve McQueen’s hauntingly graphic depiction of slavery even made some people declare they were sitting this one out because they couldn’t bear to watch. The film has seeped into America culture. The long-term effects may never be fully measured, but the recent announcement that both the movie and the memoir on which it is based will be used in high school curricula ensures that people will be discussing it for years to come.

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