The nominations for the 95th annual Academy Awards were announced today and a lot of the expected candidates got nods—but not enough of our folks got their things.
Austin Butler put on a masterclass in Elvis, so he’ll be leading the Best Actor category along with four other men who shouldn’t waste time writing acceptance speeches. (Whether you fall on the Eddie Murphy spectrum on Elvis Presley or think more along the lines of “Fight the Power,” you gotta hand it to Butler, he was ACTING.) Other no-brainers were Cate Blanchett in Tár and Steven Spielberg for The Fabelmans. Congrats to those people and many more (Best Picture nominee Triangle of Sadness was a personal fave of mine last year), but this year is perhaps the most #OscarsSoWhite year in recent memory.
Black nominations are scarce. Angela Bassett landed a Best Supporting Actress nod for the incredible heart and emotion she brought to Wakanda Forever, a film that earned five nominations in total (also including Best Original Song, Best Visual Effects, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Costume Design). In a shocker, Brian Tyree Henry landed a Best Supporting Actor nomination for the Jennifer Lawrence-starring trauma drama Causeway. That’s all of your Black nominees this year, folks. Wakanda Forever and Brian Tyree Henry. Whoop-de-damn-do.
In a year where Steven Spielberg will likely win Best Director for making a soul-searching picture about his origins, it’s criminal he’s not sharing space in the category with Jordan Peele’s Nope, which is one of the greatest homages to Spielberg Hollywood has ever seen. Zero Black women were nominated for Best Actress despite Danielle Deadwyler’s commanding presence in Till and Viola Davis elevating The Woman King to something far greater than merely a Black Panther 2 pregame. (Gina Prince-Bythewood also needs recognition for directing the latter.)
The Academy historically loves emotional period dramas that have to do with race. (Green Book, Hidden Figures, or The Help ring a bell?) Maybe the aforementioned 2022 movies don’t resonate as much because they don’t play heavily into a white savior narrative, coddling voters’ guilt. Whatever the case, it's inexcusable. Whole damn Academy need to be slapped. What, too soon?
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