Washington Post Express film critic Kristen Page-Kirby is excited at how black the Oscars might look. Under the headline "Now, This Is More Like It," she wrote about looking ahead to next year’s Oscar nominations and how “something dawned” on her: three films about black characters with black directors have a good shot at Best Picture.
“It’s still early, of course, and there are some very white, very strong-looking movies yet to be released.” Among the actors, Meryl Streep could ruin Oprah Winfrey’s Oscar chances:
I listed three films about black characters ("12 Years a Slave," "Lee Daniels' The Butler" and "Fruitvale Station") that I think have a good shot at best picture. The directors of those films are black, too (though I don't think "Fruitvale's" Ryan Coogler will make the final cut for best director). Chiwetel Ejiofor, Forest Whitaker and Michael B. Jordan all have shots at best actor (though, again, I think "Fruitvale's" Jordan will just miss a nomination).
The Oscars have been getting more diverse over the years, but not as much as you might think. Last year's best picture nominees included two films with black major characters: "Beasts of the Southern Wild" and "Django Unchained." Both had white directors. 2012's nominees included "The Help," which also had a white director. In 2011, not one of the 10 best picture nominees had a black major character. Zero. That year, toys were better represented than African-Americans.
Assuming I'm right -- a dangerous assumption when it comes to the Academy Awards -- 2013 could signal a major shift in Oscar history. For example, I think the best supporting actress nominees will include Octavia Spencer, Oprah Winfrey and Lupita Nyong'o. With only two slots left, it's possible that more black women than white women will get nods in the category - and this by an organization that has nominated black women only 27 times in 85 years.
It's still early, of course, and there are some very white, very strong-looking movies yet to be released, including "Dallas Buyers Club," "Nebraska" and "August: Osage County."
And, no matter when I do my picks, I’ll be wildly wrong, because I always am. One thing is certain, though: High-caliber American filmmaking is actually starting to look like America.
In Friday's Express, Page-Kirby also declared "After having more time to think about '12 Years a Slave,' I've changed my mind about something. I always thought the greatest performance in American film was Sean Penn's in 'Dead Man Walking.' Not anymore. Congratulations, Mr. [Chiwetel] Eliofor."