Tag: Black Actors

Why Denzel’s Already Won (And He Doesn’t Need An Oscar To Prove It)

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If Denzel Washington wins the best actor Oscar this month, it won’t break any obvious records; the actor won his first Academy Award in 1990. However, his role as Whip Whitaker in “Flight” (now available on XFINITY On Demand™) stands out for a reason made plain by the film’s review in the New York Times: “Flight Stars Denzel Washington as an Alcoholic Pilot.” Newspaper headlines have to say a lot with little, but these eight words demonstrate how much ground Black men have covered in Hollywood since Denzel Washington accepted his first Oscar from Geena Davis 23 years ago. He gripped the statue and gave it a long look as the camera panned to a beaming Morgan Freeman. Denzel soaked up the applause and adjusted his tux before he made his acceptance speech that concluded with an homage to the “Black soldiers who helped to make this country free.” The moment was a watershed in American culture. Not only did we get to witness the rise of a modern-day Sidney Poitier who moved with a showman’s swagger, but we also saw the birth of a nuanced presence for Black men in Hollywood. In the 23 years since Denzel Washington won, we’ve moved from a Black man portraying a slave who becomes a heroic soldier to portraying a drug- and alcohol-addicted airline pilot whose heroism can’t outweigh his own flaws. We are in a time where storytelling about black lives lean toward the individual rather than the collective “We” that long typified movies made about Black Americans. In her essay collection “The Black Interior,” cultural critic Elizabeth Alexander characterizes the period in which Washington came-of-age as revolutionary. “Washington has made very precise career choices, and there are no careless moves in his filmography,” she writes. “To portray Black historical characters was the necessary work of the 1980s and 1990s as opportunities for Black actors and directors expanded and Black people took more control of the image-making onscreen.” The care with which Denzel Washington and his advisors crafted his career is nothing short of remarkable. For most Black actors, their glory is summed up in one or two memorable roles. Haven’t we all heard the argument that there aren’t enough good scripts written for Black talent? However, Washington’s half-dozen Oscar nominations track the evolution in his filmography from historical heroic figures to more deeply flawed creations in which the character’s race may be the least interesting element.

His first nomination came in 1987 as a supporting actor for his portrayal of martyred anti-apartheid activist and journalist Steve Biko in “Cry Freedom.” That was followed by his Oscar-winning turn as slave-turned-soldier Private Trip in “Glory” (1989), then as the titular “Malcolm X” in 1993 (his first Best Actor nomination). In 1999, he was Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, the legendary middleweight boxer who was falsely accused of murder, in “Hurricane.” And then with “Training Day” (2001), as corrupt Los Angeles police detective Alonzo Harris, he crossed the rubicon: He won the Oscar with a character who was complex, unredeemed and entirely fictional. “Flight” arguably raises the stakes even higher: While Det. Harris was a very smart twist on the gangsta characterizations of so many films, the story of pilot Whitaker wasn’t attached to any race; as many films have already proven, addiction struggles can belong to anyone. Washington has been liberated to do what Poitier was never allowed to be on screen: fully human. Poitier acknowledged as much in an interview with the Academy shortly after Washington won for “Training Day,” on the same night that Poitier received an honorary award representing his body of work.http://www.oscars.org/video/watch/mi_spoitier_denzel.html

Noted Poitier, “It represented progress. It represented… a kind of democracy that had been very long in maturing. His following me as he did, he had taken the concept of African-Americans in films to a place where I couldn’t, I didn’t. I thank him for that. He helped me that evening to a closing of my artistic life.”

A Look At The Black Actors Who Might Contend For The Best Actor Oscar + Some Interesting History

It’s that time of the year, as prognosticators at every level start handicapping the Academy Awards, which are set to take place on February 24 (nominations will be announced on Januray 15, 2013). As much as some of us might dismiss the Oscars as an indication of where black cinema is, or where blacks in cinema are, we can’t ignore their overall industry relevance. I can already hear the chants: who cares about the Oscars; they’re not for *us.* Well, a lot of folks in the industry (and out) do certainly care, and see value in the recognition. I plan to post a follow-up piece that looks at the history of the awards show, and how (or if) it’s impacted the careers of those black entertainers who’ve won trophies.Today, I’m focusing on black actors who just might make the short list of Oscar nominees in the Best Actor (male) category when they’re announced in January; and as you’d expect, there aren’t many of them.In fact, of the 600+ films that would have seen Oscar-qualifying USA theatrical releases by the end of this year, I counted a total of 19 that feature a black male actor in a leading role. How pathetic is that? Doing the math, that’s about 3% of total volume. It shouldn’t be shocking however; it’s a rare occurrence when we cover a film (especially a studio-backed project) that features a black man in the lead role. Very, very rare. 19 times rare. Actually it’s less than 19, because I’m also including indie features in that number.19 out of well over 600 films! It’s a white man’s world, in case you needed that clarification. The overwhelming majority of films with male leads (the bulk of movies made by studios today) star white male actors. And if you take a closer look at the list of 19 films, you’d very quickly dismiss most of them as potential Oscar contenders, given what we know of the criteria for Oscar-caliber movies. In fact, I’d say of the 19, only 3 really stand a chance of making the short list of nominees for Best Actor. First, here’s the list of 19: Red Hook SummerThe Magic of Belle IsleWuthering HeightsMIB 3Safe HouseThink Like a Man, Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness ProtectionFlightRed TailsTyler Perry’s Good DeedsAlex CrossA Thousand WordsThe Man with the Iron FistsThe IntouchablesWoman Thou Art Loosed!: On the 7th DayUnconditional2 Days in New YorkThe Last Fall, and Django Unchained.Am I forgetting any films? I used Box Office Mojo as my primary source. I don’t think there are any glaring ommissions though.And of those 19, the only 3 that I think have a shot at nominations are: Denzel Washington in Flight (he’s probably a sure-thing), Jamie Foxx in Django Unchained, and Omar Sy in The Intouchables.  The last 2 are Weinstein Company movies, and we all know how well Harvey Weinstein does when it comes to ensuring that movies he wants on the ballot, make it on the ballot.The Omar Sy pick might seem out of left field to you, but, as we’ve noted in past posts, there’s been a definite push to get him an Oscar nomination for his work in that film. He already won the French equivalent of the Oscar (the César) for Best Actor, so why not the Oscar as well.”We definitely think this is an Oscar movie, and we think that Omar, like Jean Dujardin before him, is in this race,” Harvey has said. Of course he’s referring to Jean Dujardin who won the Best Actor Oscar earlier this year, for his work in The Artist (one of the most over-rated movies I saw in 2011).Maybe he’ll make it a a double, with Omar Sy this year. I doubt it, given the competition; but a nomination isn’t entirely out of the question.But if I were to pick one of these 3 actors who I thought was guaranteed to make the short list of 5 nominees, I’d go with Denzel without any hesitation. Django Unchained isn’t out yet, but even when it is released, I don’t know if Jamie’s peformance will match the overwhelming buzz that’s surrounded Denzel’s work in Flight since it was released.And I think Omar Sy would need even more of a push. I’m not really hearing his name mentioned as a real contender.As for the other 16 films on the list, the only other title that I’d say has some potential is Wuthering Heights, which stars James Howson as Heathcliff. There just hasn’t been enough buzz to help elevate awareness of the film. It was released on October 5, and was met with mixed reviews. It hasn’t even reached $100,000 in box office, despite having been in theaters for over a month. And I haven’t Howson’s name mentioned at all as a potential awards contender. It would help if he’d been up for other awards, especially as the film traveled the festival circuit, but he hasn’t picked up any.

I should mention that I considered other films with black actors in starring roles, but none of them featured what would be traditionally referred to as a male lead, so I didn’t include them on the list of 19; these are roles that, if nominated, would likely be in the Best Supporting Actor category. For example: Omari Hardwick and David Oyelowo in Middle Of Nowhere (it’s really Emayatzy Corinealdi’s movie); I’d say the same for the male characters in Sparkle, and also Beasts Of The Southern Wild (specifically, Dwight Henry). CONTINUE READING..

So that’s it!

Wood Harris Joins Angela Bassett and Mary J. Blige in Lifetime Film

Wood Harris is back on the radar with a new role.He’ll be playing Malcolm X in the Lifetime film, “Betty and Coretta.” Blackfilm.com reports that the film is a story of Coretta Scott King and Dr. Betty Shabazz as they wore the crown of mother, wife, and civil rights activists before and after the death of their husbands. The cast also includes Angela Bassett (King), Ruby Dee, Mary J. Blige (Shabazz), and Malik Yoba (Dr. King). Harris is best known for his role on the HBO television drama, “The Wire” as the drug kingpin “Avon Barksdale.” He’s also had a bit of experience playing real life people like Jimi Hendrix in the 2000 Showtime film, “Hendrix.” “I’m surprisingly very prepared for the role,” he told Blackfilm.com. “When I auditioned for New York University and I got in, I used my Malcolm X speech. I was very much into being Malcolm. I think people will be surprised to see me as Malcolm X because I’d probably do a great job at it.”

Read more at http://www.eurweb.com/2012/10/wood-harris-joins-angela-bassett-and-mary-j-blige-in-lifetime-film/#KSPSwdME3K8C0t73.99

Mississippi rapper/producer David Banner has been tapped to co-star in the upcoming Lee Daniels film,The Butler, which is currently in production in New Orleans. Banner joins a cast that includes Forrest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Robin Williams, Terrance Howard, Vanessa Redgrave, Jane Fonda and more. It tells the true story of Eugene Allen (played by Forrest Whitaker), a butler who served at the White House from 1952 to 1986 under eight First Families. Banner will portray Earl Gains, Allen’s father, and will appear alongside Mariah Carey who will play his wife. The rapper’s role is a pivotal one as it sets the tone of the movie and foreshadows how Eugene navigates life through his tenure in the White House.Daniels called Banner’s performance “absolutely exquisite.”

“I’m really excited to be a part of this movie,” Banner says of his involvement. “The cast is absolutely astonishing and working with Mariah has been great. Lee Daniels is so amazing to work with and I thank him for choosing me for this role. This movie reminds us of what our ancestors have endured for us to have certain liberties which we have today. This movie is groundbreaking.”While expanding his acting resume, he continues to produce music for the likes of Lil Wayne, Ludacris, and Ne-Yo, among others.This holiday season, Banner will make other big screen appearances in the films 7500, and They Die By Dawn.

SOURCE

‘Not Too Dark’ Actors Preferred ACURA IS UNDER FIRE FOR THEIR SUPER BOWL CASTING REQUIREMENT

When Acura was putting together its casting call for actors to star in their 2012 Super Bowl commercial alongside Jerry Seinfeld, they had some interesting requirements —specifically, a not “too dark” rule. Dug up by TMZ, the ‘brown paper bag’ casting sheet also wanted the man to look, “nice looking and friendly.”

Immediately, the Japan-based company apologized saying, “We made our selection based on the fact that he [the Black actor cast] was the most talented actor. We are taking appropriate measures to ensure that such a language is not used again in association with any work performed on behalf of our brand.” In a nutshell: someone’s getting the boot. The casting company hired by Acura declined to comment.

Read it at New York Daily News.