Tag: oscars

Why Kevin Hart Shouldn’t Have Played a Victim on ‘Ellen’ (Guest Column)

His interview tried to diminish the actor’s critics as “trolls” and “haters” rather than spotlighting the real-world consequences of his own words, ‘The Fosters’ and ‘Good Trouble’ writer Kris Rehl writes for The Hollywood Reporter.

Watching Kevin Hart’s interview on The Ellen Degeneres Show, I was shocked to see Ellen throw her weight behind his self-victimization. How could this saga go on without Hart taking any real responsibility? “It’s tough for me because it was an attack, a malicious attack on my character, to end me,” Hart said.
When I was a freshman at NYU, a straight guy who lived in my dorm called me a faggot. When I told him he couldn’t talk to me like that, he physically assaulted me, a few steps from my front door. That was a malicious attack. I was 18, alone and spiraled into depression.
It’s hard to sympathize with Hart playing the victim of outrage when he contributed to this culture of violence toward gay men. I’m glad he has grown and stopped using that slur, but his decade-old tweets reached a larger audience when he was offered the Oscar hosting gig. He keeps referencing an old apology that most people haven’t seen, and his fans continue to defend this homophobia, making it even more important that he use larger platforms like going on Ellen to denounce the type of violence he “joked” about inflicting on his potentially gay son. It’s now his responsibility (and, by extension, Ellen’s) to make sure his fan base understands the deeply rooted effects of homophobia in our culture. If Hart has grown like he claims, it’s time for him to listen, learn and speak out.
I believe in the power of television — it’s changed my life, and it’s why I’m a writer. A 2015 Variety survey showed that The Ellen Degeneres Show was more influential in changing audiences’ minds about same-sex marriage than any other media. But Ellen, for all the good she’s accomplished for the gay community, is not our spokesperson.
She also isn’t a gay man, the group that Hart’s violent jokes targeted. Only three days ago, I was walking through Griffith Park with my boyfriend when a man got off a bus, saw us, and screamed “fag” at us multiple times. So I was incredibly disappointed with how Ellen advocated for Hart, diminishing his critics as “trolls” and “haters” rather than spotlighting the real-world consequences of Hart’s words, the people they’ve emboldened and the ones they affect.

So much of Hollywood, even trailblazers like Ellen, can be quick to brush queer people aside. It’s not OK to be openly homophobic like it used to be, but the overwhelming majority of gay actors still can’t come out until after they make it. Every June, studios trot out their floats at Pride as a show of strong allyship despite featuring next to no LGBTQ characters in their major releases. Every gay writer I know has a story where they’ve been told their script or pitch is “too gay.” Homophobia may now be closeted here in Hollywood, but it’s something that queer people have to deal with every day.

I’m not sure how the Academy could honor a movie about conversion therapy and homophobia at their ceremony this year when their host refuses to acknowledge his complicity in that same discriminatory culture. But if Hart doesn’t make things right, I would like to nominate Billy Porter or RuPaul or A Star Is Born’s Shangela to host, because representation matters.

Updated Oscar Projections As Wave of Top Contenders Are Released

THR’s awards columnist updates his projections.

Screen Shot 2018-10-21 at 7.42.47 PM

These projections reflect Scott Feinberg’s personal impressions (from screenings), publicly available information (release dates, genres, talent rosters and teasers/trailers often offer valuable clues), historical considerations (how other films with similar pedigrees have resonated), precursor awards (some awards groups have historically correlated with the Academy more than others) and consultations with industry insiders (including fellow members of the press, awards strategists, filmmakers and awards voters).

GLOSSARY The following abbreviations denote the film festival(s) at which a film has screened and/or will be screening: SUND=Sundance, SXSW=South by Southwest, TRIB=Tribeca, CANN=Cannes, VENI=Venice, TELL=Telluride, TIFF=Toronto, NYFF=New York, LOND=London and AFIF=AFI Fest.

Best Picture

FRONTRUNNERS

Roma (Netflix) VENI, TELL, TIFF, NYFF
A Star Is Born
(Warner Bros.) VENI, TIFF
The Favourite (Fox Searchlight) VENI, TELL, NYFF
Black Panther (Disney)
Green Book (Universal) TIFF
First Man (Universal) VENI, TELL, TIFF
BlacKkKlansman (Focus Features) CANN
Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Fox Searchlight) TELL, TIFF
Eighth Grade
(A24) SUND, SXSW
A Quiet Place (Paramount) SXSW

MAJOR THREATS

Cold War (Amazon) CANN, TELL, TIFF, NYFF
If Beale Street Could Talk (Annapurna) TIFF, NYFF
Crazy Rich Asians (Warner Bros.)
Ben is Back (Roadside Attractions) TIFF

POSSIBILITIES

Hereditary (A24) SUND, SXSW
Leave No Trace (Bleecker Street) SUND, CANN
Widows (Fox) TIFF, LOND
22 July (Netflix) VENI, TIFF

STILL TO COME

Mary Poppins Returns (Disney)
Mary Queen of Scots (Focus Features) AFIF
The Mule (Warner Bros.)
On the Basis of Sex (Focus Features) AFIF
Vice (Annapurna)

Best Director

FRONTRUNNERS

Alfonso Cuaron (Roma)
Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born)
Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite)
Ryan Coogler (Black Panther)
Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman)

MAJOR THREATS

Damien Chazelle (First Man) — podcast
Pawel Pawlikowski (Cold War)
Bo Burnham (Eighth Grade)
Peter Farrelly (Green Book)
Barry Jenkins (If Beale Street Could Talk) — podcast
Paul Greengrass (22 July)
Debra Granik (Leave No Trace)
John Krasinski (A Quiet Place)

POSSIBILITIES

Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians)
Marielle Heller (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
Ari Aster (Hereditary)
Peter Hedges (Ben is Back)
Steve McQueen (Widows)
Boots Riley (Sorry to Bother You)
Julian Schnabel (At Eternity’s Gate)

STILL TO COME (alphabetical)

Clint Eastwood (The Mule)
Mimi Leder (On the Basis of Sex)
Rob Marshall (Mary Poppins Returns)
Adam McKay (Vice) — podcast
Josie Rourke (Mary Queen of Scots)

Best Actor

FRONTRUNNERS

Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born)
Viggo Mortensen (Green Book) — podcast
Lucas Hedges (Ben is Back)
Ryan Gosling (First Man)
Hugh Jackman (The Front Runner)

MAJOR THREATS

Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody) — podcast
John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman)
Steve Carell (Beautiful Boy)
Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther) — podcast
Ethan Hawke (First Reformed) — podcast
Willem Dafoe (At Eternity’s Gate) — podcast
John C. Reilly (The Sisters Brothers)

POSSIBILITIES

Robert Redford (The Old Man & the Gun)
Ben Foster (Leave No Trace)
John Krasinski (A Quiet Place)
Stephan James (If Beale Street Could Talk)
Lucas Hedges (Boy Erased)
Lakeith Stanfield (Sorry to Bother You)
Steve Coogan (Stan & Ollie)
John C. Reilly (Stan & Ollie)

STILL TO COME (alphabetical)

Christian Bale (Vice)
Clint Eastwood (The Mule)

Best Actress

FRONTRUNNERS

Glenn Close (The Wife) — podcast
Olivia Colman (The Favourite)
Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born)
Julia Roberts (Ben is Back)
Yalitza Aparicio (Roma)

MAJOR THREATS

Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
Kathryn Hahn (Private Life)
Toni Collette (Hereditary)
Viola Davis (Widows)
Nicole Kidman (Destroyer) — podcast
Joanna Kulig (Cold War)
Elsie Fisher (Eighth Grade)

POSSIBILITIES

KiKi Layne (If Beale Street Could Talk)
Charlize Theron (Tully)
Keira Knightley (Colette) — podcast
Rosamund Pike (A Private War) — podcast
Carey Mulligan (Wildlife)
Emily Blunt (A Quiet Place)
Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Kindergarten Teacher)
Emma Thompson (The Children Act)
Hilary Swank (What They Had)

STILL TO COME (alphabetical)

Emily Blunt (Mary Poppins Returns)
Felicity Jones (On the Basis of Sex)
Saoirse Ronan (Mary Queen of Scots) — podcast

Best Supporting Actor

FRONTRUNNERS

Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
Mahershala Ali (Green Book) — podcast
Timothee Chalamet (Beautiful Boy) — podcast
Sam Elliott (A Star Is Born)
Nicholas Hoult (The Favourite)

MAJOR THREATS

Robert Forster (What They Had)
Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther) — podcast
Matthew McConaughey (White Boy Rick) — podcast
Paul Giamatti (Private Life)
Daniel Kaluuya (Widows)
Russell Crowe (Boy Erased)

POSSIBILITIES

Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman) — podcast
Topher Grace (BlacKkKlansman)
Brian Tyree Henry (If Beale Street Could Talk) NEW
Jake Gyllenhaal (Wildlife) — podcast
Dominic West (Colette)
Alessandro Nivola (Disobedience)

STILL TO COME (alphabetical)

Steve Carell (Vice)
Armie Hammer (On the Basis of Sex)
Lin-Manuel Miranda (Mary Poppins Returns) — podcast
Mike Myers (Bohemian Rhapsody)
Sam Rockwell (Vice) — podcast
Justin Theroux (On the Basis of Sex)

Best Supporting Actress

FRONTRUNNERS

Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk)
Emma Stone (The Favourite) — podcast
Rachel Weisz (The Favourite)
Claire Foy (First Man) — podcast
Marina de Tavira (Roma)

MAJOR THREATS

Thomasin McKenzie (Leave No Trace)
Nicole Kidman (Boy Erased) — podcast
Elizabeth Debicki (Widows)
Natalie Portman (Vox Lux) — podcast
Kayli Carter (Private Life)
Rachel McAdams (Disobedience)

POSSIBILITIES

Michelle Yeoh (Crazy Rich Asians)
Vera Farmiga (The Front Runner)
Ann Dowd (Hereditary)
Angela Bassett (Black Panther)
Lupita Nyong’o (Black Panther)
Danai Gurira (Black Panther) — podcast

STILL TO COME (alphabetical)

Amy Adams (Vice)
Kathy Bates (On the Basis of Sex)
Emily Mortimer (Mary Poppins Returns)
Margot Robbie (Mary Queen of Scots) — podcast
Meryl Streep (Mary Poppins Returns)

Best Adapted Screenplay

FRONTRUNNERS

A Star Is Born (Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters, Eric Roth)
BlacKkKlansman (Spike Lee, David Rabinowitz, Charlie Wachtel, Kevin Willmott)
Black Panther (Joe Robert Cole, Ryan Coogler)
First Man (Josh Singer)
Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Nicole Holofcener, Jeff Whitty)

MAJOR THREATS

If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins)
Crazy Rich Asians (Peter Chiarelli, Adele Lim)
Leave No Trace (Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini)
Widows (Gillian Flynn, Steve McQueen)
22 July (Paul Greengrass)
The Wife (Jane Anderson)
The Sisters Brothers (Jacques Audiard, Thomas Bidegain)

POSSIBILITIES

Wildlife (Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan)
The Front Runner (Matt Bai, Jay Carson, Jason Reitman)
Beautiful Boy (Luke Davies, Felix Van Groeningen)
The Hate U Give (Audrey Wells)
Disobedience (Sebastian Lelio, Rebecca Lenkiewicz)
Boy Erased (Joel Edgerton)
A Private War (Arash Amel)

STILL TO COME

Mary Poppins Returns (John DeLuca, David Magee, Rob Marshall)
Mary Queen of Scots (Beau Willimon)

Best Original Screenplay

FRONTRUNNERS

The Favourite (Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara)
Roma (Alfonso Cuaron)
Green Book (Brian Hayes Currie, Peter Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga)
Eighth Grade
(Bo Burnham)
Private Life (Tamara Jenkins)

MAJOR THREATS

Ben is Back (Peter Hedges)
A Quiet Place
(Scott Beck, John Krasinski, Bryan Woods)
Cold War
(Piotr Borkowski, Janusz Glowacki, Pawel Pawlikowski)
First Reformed (Paul Schrader)
Hereditary (Ari Aster)
Sorry to Bother You (Boots Riley)
Mid90s (Jonah Hill) NEW
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Ethan Coen, Joel Coen)
What They Had (Elizabeth Chomko)

POSSIBILITIES

Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola, Kunichi Nomura, Jason Schwartzman)
Capernaum (Jihad Hojeily, Michelle Keserwany, Nadine Labaki, Khaled Mouzanar)
Colette (Richard Glatzer, Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Wash Westmoreland)
Destroyer (Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi)
White Boy Rick (Logan Miller, Noah Miller, Andy Weiss)
Vox Lux (Brady Corbet)
Stan & Ollie (Jeff Pope)
At Eternity’s Gate (Julian Schnabel)

STILL TO COME

On the Basis of Sex (Daniel Stiepleman)
Vice (Adam McKay)

Best Animated Feature

FRONTRUNNERS

Incredibles 2 (Disney/Pixar)
Isle of Dogs (Fox Searchlight) BERL, SXSW
Ralph Breaks the Internet (Disney)
Mirai (GKIDS)
Ruben Brandt, Collector (Sony Classics) NEW

THE REST OF THE FIELD (alphabetical)

Early Man (Lionsgate/Aardman)
The Grinch (Universal/Illumination)
Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (Sony Animation)
Lu Over the Wall (GKIDS)
Next Gen (Netflix)
Night is Short, Walk On Girl (GKIDS)
Sherlock Gnomes (Paramount)
Smallfoot (Warner Bros.)
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Sony)
Teen Titans Go! To the Movies (Warner Bros.)

Best Documentary Feature

PROJECTED SHORTLIST

Free Solo (National Geographic) TELL, TIFF
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (Focus Features) SUND, SXSW
RBG (Magnolia) SUND
Three Identical Strangers (Neon) SUND
Quincy (Netflix) TIFF
Science Fair (National Geographic) SUND, SXSW
Crime + Punishment (Hulu) SUND
Minding the Gap (Hulu/Magnolia) SUND
The Price of Everything (HBO) SUND
Filmworker (Kino Lorber) CANN [’17], NYFF [’17]
The Sentence (HBO) SUND
Studio 54 (Zeitgeist) SUND, TRIB
McQueen (Bleecker Street) TRIB
Dark Money (PBS) SUND
On Her Shoulders (Oscilloscope) SUND, SXSW

THE REST OF THE FIELD (alphabetical)

93Queen (Abramorama) NEW
306 Hollywood (El Tigre) SUND NEW
Always at the Carlyle
(Good Deed)
Believer (HBO)
BISBEE ’17 (4th Row Films) NEW
The Bleeding Edge (Netflix)
Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat (Magnolia) TIFF [’17], NYFF [’17]
Chef Flynn (Kino Lorber) SUND
Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes (Magnolia) TIFF
Eating Animals (Sundance Selects) TELL [’17]
Fahrenheit 11/9 (Briarcliff) TIFF
Far from the Tree (Sundance Selects)
Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf (Argot)
Generation Wealth (Amazon) SUND, BERL, SXSW
The Gospel According to André (Magnolia) TIFF [’17], TRIB
Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami (Kino Lorber) TIFF [’17]
Hal (Oscilloscope) SUND, TELL
Hale County This Morning, This Evening (Cinema Guild) SUND
The Heart of Nuba (Abramorama)
Hitler’s Hollywood (Kino Lorber) TELL [’17] NEW
In Search of Greatness (AOS)
Inventing Tomorrow (Fishbowl Films)
Itzhak (Greenwich Entertainment)
Jane Fonda in Five Acts (HBO) SUND
John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection (Oscilloscope)
The Judge (self distributed) TIFF
The King (Oscilloscope) CANN [’17], SUND
King in the Wilderness (HBO) SUND
Kusama: Infinity (Magnolia) SUND NEW
Leaning Into the Wind: Andy Goldsworthy (Magnolia)
Liyana (Abramorama) NEW
Love, Cecil (Zeitgeist) TELL [’17]
Love, Gilda (Magnolia) TRIB
Maria by Callas (Sony Classics) TIFF
Monrovia, Indiana (Zipporah) VENI, TIFF, NYFF
The Oslo Diaries (HBO) SUND
Pope Francis: A Man of His Word (Focus Features) CANN
The Price of Free (YouTube) SUN
Reversing Roe (Netflix) TELL, TIFF
Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind (HBO) SUND
Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda (MUBI) TRIB
Say Her Name: The Life And Death Of Sandra Bland (HBO)
Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood (Greenwich Entertainment) TIFF [’17]
Shirkers (Netflix) SUND
They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead (Netflix) VENI, TELL
United Skates (HBO) TRIB NEW
Watergate — or, How We Learned to Stop An Out-of-Control President (History) TELL
What Haunts Us NEW
Whitney (Roadside Attractions) CANN [’17]

STILL SEEKING U.S. DISTRIBUTOR (alphabetical)

American Dharma VENI, TIFF, NYFF
Angels Are Made of Light TELL, TIFF, NYFF
Aquarela VENI, LOND
Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blache CANN, TELL, NYFF, LOND
The Biggest Little Farm TELL, TIFF
The Dawn Wall SXSW NEW
The Dead and the Others [Brazil] CANN
The Elephant Queen TIFF
Fail State NEW
Ghost Fleet TELL
Graves Without a Name TELL, TIFF
The Great Buster: A Celebration VENI, TELL
Meeting Gorbachev TELL, TIFF
Mountain
People’s Republic of Desire SXSW NEW
Saving Brinton
Screwball TIFF
The Silence of Others BERL
What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael TELL
Women Making Films: A New Road Movie Through Cinema VENI, TIFF

Best Foreign Language Film

PROJECTED SHORTLIST

Roma [Mexico] (Netflix) VENI, TELL, TIFF, NYFF
Cold War [Poland] (Amazon) CANN, TELL, TIFF, NYFF
Girl [Belgium] CANN, TELL, TIFF
Burning [South Korea] (Well Go USA) CANN, NYFF
Shoplifters [Japan] (Magnolia) CANN, TELL, TIFF, NYFF
Capernaum [Lebanon] (Sony Classics) CANN, TIFF
The Guilty [Denmark] (Magnolia) SUND
Birds of Passage [Colombia] (The Orchard) CANN, TELL, TIFF, LOND
Never Look Away [Germany] (Sony Classics) VENI, TIFF

OTHER OFFICIAL SUBMISSIONS (alphabetical)

10 Days Before the Wedding [Yemen] NEW
And Suddenly the Dawn [Chile]
Ayka [Kazakhstan] CANN NEW
The Angel [Argentina] CANN, TIFF
Beauty and the Dogs [Tunisia] CANN [’17], LOND [’17], AFIF [’17]
Border [Sweden] CANN, TELL, TIFF, NYFF
Buffalo Boys [Singapore]
Burnout [Morocco]
Cake [Pakistan]
The Cakemaker [Israel] LOND [’17]
Champions [Spain]
Cocote [Dominican Republic] TIFF [’17]
Crystal Swan [Belarus]
Dogman [Italy] CANN, TELL, TIFF, LOND
Donbass [Ukraine] CANN, TIFF
Eldorado [Switzerland] TELL
Eternity [Peru]
Euthanizer [Finland] TIFF [’17]
The Eighth Commissioner [Croatia]
The Family [Venezuela]
Family First [Canada] NEW
Ghost Hunting [Palestine] BERL [’17]
Graves Without a Name [Cambodia] VENI, TELL
The Great Buddha + [Taiwan] TIFF [’17]
The Great Mystical Circus [Brazil] CANN
Gutland [Luxembourg]
The Heiresses [Paraguay] BERL
Hidden Man [China] TIFF NEW
I Am Not a Witch
[United Kingdom]
I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History As Barbarians [Romania]
The Interpreter [Slovakia]
Iskra [Montenegro]
Ivan [Slovenia]
Jirga [Australia] TIFF NEW
The Journey [Iraq] TIFF [’17], LOND [’17]
Malila: The Farewell Flower [Thailand]
Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts [Indonesia] CANN [’17], TIFF [’17], AFIF [’17]
The Marriage [Kosovo]
Medea [Costa Rica]
Memoir of War [France]
Muralla [Bolivia]
Namme [Georgia]
Never Leave Me [Bosnia & Herzegovina]
Night Accident [Kyrgyzstan]
No Bed of Roses [Bangladesh]
No Date, No Signature [Iran] VENI [’17]
Offenders [Serbia]
Omnipresent [Bulgaria]
Operation Red Sea [Hong Kong]
Panchayat [Nepal]
Pilgrimage [Portugal]
Polyxeni [Greece]
The Resistance Banker [Netherlands]
The Road to Sunrise [Malawi] NEW
Rona Azim’s Mother [Afghanistan] NEW
Ruben Blades is Not My Name [Panama] SXSW
Sew the Winter to My Skin [South Africa] TIFF
Secret Ingredient [Macedonia]
Sergio and Sergei [Cuba] TIFF [’17]
Signal Rock [Philippines]
Sobibor [Russia] CANN
A Son of Man [Ecuador]
Spitak [Armenia] NEW
Sunset [Hungary] (Sony Classics) VENI, TIFF, LOND
Supa Modo
[Kenya] BERL
The Tailor [Vietnam]
Take It or Leave It [Estonia]
To Be Continued [Latvia]
A Twelve-Year Night [Uruguay] VENI
Until the End of Time [Algeria]
Village Rockstars [India] TIFF [’17]
The Waldheim Waltz [Austria] BERL, NYFF
The Wedding Ring [Niger] TIFF [’16]
What Will People Say [Norway] TIFF [’17], AFIF [’17]
The Wild Pear Tree [Turkey] CANN, TIFF
Winter Flies [Czech Republic] TIFF
Woman at War [Iceland] CANN, TIFF, LOND
Wonderful Losers: A Different World [Lithuania]
Yellow Is Forbidden [New Zealand] TRIB NEW
Yomeddine [Egypt] CANN

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

1012-GQ-Article

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.”