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African-American Leading Ladies at the Oscars

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  • Andrew Carden
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    #216466

    Over the 88 years since the Academy Awards were first established, 20 African-American leading men, 17 supporting men and and 18 supporting women have garnered Oscar nominations for their work. These are paltry numbers to be sure, particularly as you consider more than 400 performances have thus far been nominated in each of these categories.

    The numbers are especially anemic, however, in the Lead Actress category – a mere 10 African-American women have garnered Best Actress nominations. Claudia McNeil in “A Raisin in the Sun” and Pam Grier in “Jackie Brown” are two names that instantly come to mind as Lead Actress performances that would’ve been supremely worthy of nominations.

    That being said, which is your favorite of the 10 African-American Best Actress performances recognized by the Academy?

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    SupaDupa Fly
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    #216468

    Whoopi Goldberg.

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    thatfilmgirl
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    #216469

    I’m still bitter Viola Davis didn’t win the Oscar. Meryl really should’ve won for Julia Childs a few years earlier instead of the Iron Lady. Will always be bitter. I’m hoping Davis can land a fantastic role in the next few years that could get her that win. 

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    Jw79bull
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    #216470

    Angela

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    Anonymous
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    #216471

    I treasure some of these performances among my personal favorites.

    Diana Ross pulls all the schmaltz out of this ’70s bio pic to create an endearing portrait of singer Billie Holiday. Though her work was never at the same level in future projects, Ross made Holiday real. The vocal performances in Lady Sings the Blues were not replications, but tributes. They didn’t sound like the great vocalist but they carried the same heartache and vulnerability that makes you want to protect her. While the politically alive Holiday who wrote the delicate song about lynching, “Strange Fruit,” is absent here, Ross nailed the scenes of drug abuse and addiction. Her moments there are simply harrowing.

    Sounder is a disappointing film. Taken from a classic children’s novel, the movie changes the book from an honest ending to a happy one. The credibility of the movie exists in the performances of Paul Winfield, Kevin Hooks and especially Cicely Tyson. There is a realism in Rebecca Morgan’s conviction as she raises her son to be a man in the Deep South that is true. It is sometimes hard to believe that the film is not a documentary when Tyson is on screen. She is magnificent.

    After some time has passed, I begin to believe my admiration for the work of Gabourey Sidibe in Precious is exaggerated. I will watch the film again and be astonished at the power of her performance. The pain in her eyes haunts me. She is able to take horrific events and make me forget the horror. I rather watch her and yearn to comfort this lost child. As the indignities and abuse pile up, Sidibe insures the viewer is never repulsed but remains staunchly on the side of Precious to escape, overcome, survive. What a gifted young actress in a triumphant performance!

    Impossible to choose just one.

    I expect the poll for White Leading Ladies at the Oscars to be just as difficult.

     

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    babypook
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    #216472

    Impossible choice. Some absolutely terrific perfs up there….and countless others who were overlooked.

    It’s dart time.

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    Anonymous
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    #216473

    Gabourey Sidibe. 

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    babypook
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    #216474

    I went with Dorothy Dandridge, a courageous pioneer. Were it not for her, there might not have been a Q Wallis.

    Btw, Angela gave my favorite perf of these.

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    Milk Money
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    #216475

    Diana Ross of the nominees. Had her film came out the following year instead she would have easily won. Whoopi and Pam Grier would have made worthy historic winners, too. It’s almost laughable that Halle’s performance is the first and only to win.

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    NoLogo
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    #216476

    Whoopi Goldberg.

    Agreed!

    Her performance in The Colour Purple still holds up as one of the best of the past thirty-odd years.

    That said, every single performance listed save Halle Berry in Monsters Ball is great. 

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    Anonymous
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    #216477

    It’s better than the numbers for Asian or Latina leading ladies (0, 3) at least.

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    FilmGuy619
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    #216478

    Whoopi Goldberg in The Color Purple. 

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    JayDF
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    #216479

    Tyson, Goldberg & Sidibe…  OK If only to choose 1 it would be Tyson.

    The choice is so hard I did it on the basis of me not liking much about the rest of THE COLOR PURPLE (I think Spielberg did a terrible job, sorry).  Then between Tyson & Sidibe, I choose Tyson because I’ve been able to see her give incredible performances elsewhere and I feel Sidibe lucked out with a character that is beyond rich in terms of acting… like Elizabeth Taylor in Virginia Woolf.

    PS.  Both McNeil and Poitier’s omission from the 1961 ballot for their work in A RAISIN IN THE SUN is hardcore sad!!!  The best actress race was great that year, but they could have left Piper Laurie out IMO 🙂 

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    nkb325
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    #216480

    Im embarassed to admit but I’ve only seen Davis and Wallis… but either way, they were both my personal winners their respective years, so even out of those two it’s an extremely difficult decision. I’ll go with Wallis purely just because I know I’ll probably be one of the few to vote for her.

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    Rooney Moore
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    #216481

    I would have considered voting for Sidibe had not seen her post Oscar career.

    Went with Bassett.

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