The Oscars often like to keep it in the family. Consider two-time nominee Laura Dern, the daughter of Oscar nominees Diane Ladd and Bruce Dern; Oscar winner Angelina Jolie, the daughter of fellow champ Jon Voight; and those multi-generational Oscar winning Hustons, Fondas and Coppolas. But this year could bring an unusual twist to that story of awards inheritance: John David Washington (“BlacKkKlansman”) could earn a Best Actor nomination 26 years after his dad Denzel Washington was nominated in the same category for “Malcolm X” (1992) — both from the same director, Spike Lee.
It’s not unprecedented for the same filmmaker to direct Oscar nominated performances from the same family. Dern and her mom Ladd actually earned nominations for the same film, “Rambling Rose” (1991) by Martha Coolidge. And the Hustons kept it all in the family: filmmaker John Huston directed his dad Walter Huston to a Best Supporting Actor Oscar win for “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” (1948) and his daughter Anjelica Huston to a Best Supporting Actress Oscar win for “Prizzi’s Honor” (1985).
But it’s nevertheless a rare feat for family members to have the same filmmaker as their good luck charm, especially almost three decades apart. Denzel Washington played the title civil rights activist in “Malcolm X”; that was his third career nomination and his first as a lead actor. Since then he has racked up a total of nine nominations and two wins.
John David Washington actually appeared in “Malcolm X” with dear old dad, but he later pursued a career in professional football. He didn’t return to acting until “Ballers,” HBO’s comedy series about the business of sports in which he plays NFL star Ricky Jerret. His big-screen breakthrough came this past summer in Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman,” which, like “Malcolm X,” explores the turbulent civil rights era. Like his dad, John David plays a real-life crusader: Ron Stallworth, who was the first black police officer in Colorado Springs and managed to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan with the help of a white fellow officer.
As of this writing Washington is an underdog for a Best Actor Oscar nomination, ranked ninth with 75/1 odds, but the film is seventh in our predictions for Best Picture with 11/1 odds, so if the film turns out to be as strong as we think it is, Washington could be carried along with it — he does play the title character after all, so he would be difficult to ignore. And he’s even more difficult to ignore given his parentage.
Be sure to check out how our experts rank this year’s Oscar contenders. Then take a look at the most up-to-date combined odds before you make your own Oscar predictions. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominations are announced on January 22.