BLACK HISTORY IS MADE
Hollywood’s biggest night was when Black Panther premiered…oh…and then there was the 91st Academy Awards the other night.
It was a night of firsts for Black women, Spike Lee, and the levels of people of color winning!! We started off without a hitch. Regina King grabbed the Best Supporting Actress just as she did with the Golden Globe, and keeping that tradition alive never felt so good. Black Panther being said so many times, Black names featured throughout the night, and beyond that the amount of people of color listed after those words, “And the nominees are….” was so gratifying. We were wracking up the points.
Best Costume Design winner Ruth E. Carter accepted her award with all the style she has been giving us since Mo’ Better Blues and I’m Gonna Get You Sucka. She aptly thanked Spike Lee in her speech having worked on the director’s best films such as Malcolm X and Do The Right Thing. Big ups to Western Mass where Carter grew up, right near my hometown in Springfield, MA. Ruth E. Carter has been doing the Blackest of Black for a whhhhile. Remember School Daze, BAPS, Baby Boy, Love and Basketball?!! Yet, out of her over 30 year career, this is her first Oscar and the first Black PERSON to win in this category. Whenever I hear that I’m like, what year is this? Cardi B is the first Black woman to win best rap album when Missy Elliot and MC Lyte exist and the first Black person just won Best Costume Design at the Oscars.
I don’t want to sully these wins with comparisons and the striking long wait it has been. We want to congratulate us on this night. We keep up the momentum with Hannah Beachler winning Best Production Design for her work on Black Panther, also becoming the first Black person to win in that category. I cannot scream and give side eye so hard at the same time. Let’s talk about it! I said in our previous article on Oscar predictions that this category BETTA BE a win for Black Panther. The thought and detail that went into those costumes could not be ignored, Ryan Coogler basically won as well, with Beachler and Carter thanking him and Marvel for their wins. Beachler has been serving this excellence in every one of her projects from Creed I & II, Moonlight, Miles Ahead, AND Lemonade. She’s been doing this for the culture in a real way, yet – first Oscar win, first Black PERSON again to win in a category. You know what though – it proves she is still doing it for the culture in a big way, the first of the firsts. Congratulations!
TAKING HOME THE GOLD
We gotta give it up for all of the People of Color who slayed the night. You know forget slayed the night – slayed in their lives, in the professions, in their dedication to excellence. Only now are the ones who make the ridiculous rules seeing we’ve triumphed over their barriers and obstacles – they HAVE to recognize at this point. Alfonso Cuarón taking it home across the board, Best Foreign Language Film, Best Director, Best Cinematography, which they tried to play by leaving the whole category out of the live show. How could you leave out the category that literally captures the entire film? Just like they realized their mistake in creating a “popular movie” category and removed it, they back tracked and brought it back to the live show.
Also, big ups to Rami Malek first generation Egyptian bringing in wins for people of color, and descendants of immigrants. Despite the licenses taken in this film, and the embellishments, Rami Malek held back nothing. He jumped in arched back, arms high, hollering to the ends of the earth for this role, a well-deserved and huge win. He was up against some big wigs in the biz too. I heard Christian Bale did another stellar performance in Vice, but you know what – he has some awards to go home to. We’ll take that win this time!! Hats off to Rami.
Again the big win goes to Best Animated Feature, keeping up the Golden Globe to Oscar tradition Into the Spider-Verse took it home. Even without the tradition, this film is more deserving that any – you know the category was real cuz Incredibles 2 had all the Oscar boxes checked with strong female leads again and commentary on women and representation; however, Spider-Verse was just a perfect film – just perfect. I do wish more of the Black/ POC peoples were on the stage to accept the award, but you know the character alone winning is magical.
But the biggest head tilt I had for the night, and you all can give me side eye that I did not know this but, Spike Lee got his first Oscar on Sunday February 24th, 2019!! WHAT NOW??!! I guess my Blackness made a different history, and Lee already had Oscars for Malcolm X, Do the Right Thing — anything!! I gotta bring it back, appreciate the win, because obviously it is LONG overdue. Spike – we have been inspired, moved, and challenged by your work for decades, but how long we have had to wait is not commentary on your impact and talents – you know this for sure. To take a page from Guillermo Del Toro who presented that evening, “no matter what happens these films are unchanged. The movies are still phenomenal and influential, Oscar or no Oscar.” But…FINALLY SPIKE! Wow!
DEDUCTIONS AND PENALTIES
But the real shocker, but when you really think about it not shocking at all, was Best Picture. There is always drama with Best Picture isn’t there? Some mishap or undeserved win and all that. In a list of films where the “diversity” matters and really great films that display this representation were nominated, we get a very disappointing result.
The Favourite, strong female leads… yea MULTIPLE leads, A Star is Born with another strong female lead, Bohemian Rhapsody, an immigrant story and highlighting LGBTQ+ experiences, then Blackkklansman, a historical story in black culture to yup, Black Panther, one of the most influential culturally relevant movies of the year. What movie gets it? What film? Green Book, the incorrect telling of a brilliant black musician, Dr. Don Shirley, and his interactions with his white driver Tony Lip and…I guess bodyguard.
A story written by the father of Tony Lip, using mailed letters and footage from the time to tell the story. Did they use real accounts from Shirley’s family?… No, nor did they portray an accurate telling of this story. Shirley’s family has been very public about the movie’s lies and misgivings. To top it off, the creator and writer said, “There would be no Green Book without Viggo.” WTF!? Did he really just thank the white guy in this story about the Black man’s life!? The talented pianist and composer’s story told from the mouth of his white driver’s son saying out right even the performance by the Black actor, Mahershala Ali, was not important to mention after Ali just won the Oscar for the role – becoming the first Black person to win twice in the same category. Gonna say, you lost me at the award goes to Green Book. Take a note America, the only help we need is the Chris Evans’ Captain America assist to our acceptance speech.
Let’s talk about the actual Green Book and how there would not be any Green Book without, Victor Hugo Green working with Black businesses across the country to revolutionize travel for People of Color and the success of Black businesses. You may think it is off topic, but it is right on time. This final award is the strongest metaphor for how the Oscars work, how America really works. There is a level at which diversity can be allowed; we had some big wins in the night, that is not contested – but we can’t have it all. I bet the Oscar voters thought Green Book was a win for everyone, a Black/white story everyone could get behind. There is so much unlearning and unpacking still to be done, but it is evident that the surface level is good enough for the decision makers. The worst part is, and everyone has been saying it, Spike Lee is beat by another Driving Miss Daisy almost 30 years later. If that doesn’t speak a million words, I don’t know what does.
WE STILL GET 10s ACROSS THE BOARD
I am still gonna hold onto our wins – Into the Spider-Verse bringing Afro-Latino stories and super heroes to life, Black Panther creators Ruth E. Carter and Hannah Beachler and the film alone taking home multiple wins, Period. End of Sentence. for ladies around the world, Bao, Rami Malek, Olivia Coleman, Lady Gaga, Alfonso Cuarón, Spike Lee, and Regina King. And Billy Porter as Best Dressed for the Gods.
I celebrate us all because the more we are in there the more those watching feel stronger to jump high over these made up walls and restrictions. Let’s say it is only a matter of time, brilliant minds cannot be held down any longer…We Will Not!