The 89th Academy Awards Review

So the Oscars were 6 days ago…

And I’ve been gathering my thoughts while sipping on some tea (both literally and figuratively as I’ve been feeling under the weather). And surprisingly, they weren’t a complete disappointment.

Anyways, moving onto the actual ceremony…

Out of all of the awards season hosts, Jimmy Kimmel was the best. He had some good jokes and he live-tweeted he-who-shall-not-be-named. And throughout the night he made subtle jabs at our current administration that were pretty clever and funny.  I also appreciated his jabs at Matt Damon, which were probably the funniest moments of the night for me personally.

The show as a whole only had five moments, in my opinion, that stood out to me as important.

The first moment happened to be Mahershala Ali’s win for Best Supporting Actor. After winning almost every major supporting actor award this season it was no surprise that Ali won the award. He also made history, by becoming the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar.

 

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– image via Digital Spy

 

The second moment was when Viola won for best Supporting Actress. Her speech was moving (as per usual) and to top it off she looked amazing. I knew she was going to win because she was long overdue for an Oscar and I’m happy I can now call her Oscar winner Viola Davis from this day forward. And of course, Viola made history once again. She became the first black actor to win the Triple Crown of Acting: winning a competitive Emmy, Oscar, and Tony in the acting categories.

 

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– image via International Business Times

 

Moment number three occurred when Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney (author of the play that Moonlight was adapted from) won Best Adapted Screenplay. I was happy to see Barry Jenkins win some award for his work on Moonlight, and seeing him also win Best Director would have been amazing, but his win for the beautifully written film that is Moonlight was enough for me.

 

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– image via Digital Spy

 

The four moment was a disappointing one. Watching Casey Affleck win Best Actor over Denzel was bizarre. Seeing that Affleck has the same monotone and emotionally empty demeanor in every single role he plays, and Denzel is one of the greatest actors ever and gave one of his best performances in Fences. I think Denzel sums up how I was feeling when I heard Affleck’s name…

 

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– image via Us Weekly

 

And of course, let’s not forget about Affleck’s sexual assault allegations that he’s been silent about this entire awards season. But that’s none of my business…*sips tea*

And lastly, the fifth moment of the night has to do with the mess that was the award for Best Picture. Yes, it’s been discovered that there was a mix up with the envelopes and The Academy, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway have all issued an apology but that’s not important.

 

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– image via The Globe and Mail

 

What’s important is the political and cultural significance of Moonlight winning the Best Picture award has. Moonlight is the first film with an all-black cast, and the first LGBT film to win Best Picture. This is an important win not only for these communities, but also other underrepresented communities in film and entertainment.

Well, that’s it for this awards season folks! In all, it was an underwhelming awards season for the most part. What this awards season taught me is that while we have come a long way as far as the representation of minorities on screen in Hollywood, we still have a long way to go, especially behind the scenes. I was disappointed to see very few people of color who were nominated in the technical categories. But hopefully, Moonlight’s win will inspire more filmmakers of color to step behind the camera.

Check out the full list of winners below!

Best Picture

  • Winner: Moonlight
  • Arrival
  • Fences
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • Hell or High Water
  • Hidden Figures
  • La La Land
  • Lion
  • Manchester by the Sea

Best Actress

  • Winner: Emma Stone – La La Land
  • Isabelle Huppert – Elle
  • Ruth Negga – Loving
  • Natalie Portman – Jackie
  • Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins

Best Actor

  • Winner: Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea
  • Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge
  • Ryan Gosling – La La Land
  • Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic
  • Should Have Won: Denzel Washington – Fences

Best Supporting Actress

  • Winner: Viola Davis – Fences
  • Naomie Harris – Moonlight
  • Nicole Kidman – Lion
  • Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures
  • Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea

Best Supporting Actor

  • Winner: Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
  • Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water
  • Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea
  • Dev Patel – Lion
  • Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals

Best Director

  • Winner: La La Land – Damien Chazelle
  • Arrival – Denis Villeneuve
  • Hacksaw Ridge – Mel Gibson
  • Manchester by the Sea – Kenneth Lonergan
  • Moonlight – Barry Jenkins

Best Original Screenplay

  • Winner: Manchester by the Sea – Kenneth Lonergan
  • 20th Century Women – Mike Mills
  • Hell or High Water – Taylor Sheridan
  • La La Land – Damien Chazelle
  • The Lobster – Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • Winner: Moonlight – Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney
  • Arrival – Eric Heisserer
  • Fences – August Wilson
  • Hidden Figures – Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi
  • Lion – Luke Davies

Best Original Score

  • Winner: La La Land – Justin Hurwitz
  • Jackie – Mica Levi
  • Lion – Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka
  • Moonlight – Nicholas Britell
  • Passengers – Thomas Newton

Best Original Song

  • Winner: La La Land – City of Stars by Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
  • La La Land – Audition by Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
  • Moana – How Far I’ll Go by Lin-Manuel Miranda
  • Trolls – Can’t Stop the Feeling by Justin Timberlake, Max Martin and Karl Johan Schuster
  • Jim: The James Foley Story – The Empty Chair by J Ralph and Sting

Best Cinematography

  • Winner: La La Land – Linus Sandgren
  • Arrival – Bradford Young
  • Lion – Greig Fraser
  • Moonlight – James Laxton
  • Silence – Rodrigo Prieto

Best Foreign Language Film

  • Winner: The Salesman – Iran
  • A Man Called Ove – Sweden
  • Land of Mine – Denmark
  • Tanna – Australia
  • Toni Erdmann – Germany

Best Costume Design

  • Winner: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Colleen Atwood
  • Allied – Joanna Johnston
  • Florence Foster Jenkins – Consolata Boyle
  • Jackie – Madeline Fontaine
  • La La Land – Mary Zophres

Best Make-Up and Hairstyling

  • Winner: Suicide Squad – Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini and Christopher Nelson
  • A Man Called Ove – Eva Von Bahr and Love Larson
  • Star Trek Beyond – Joel Harlow and Richard Alonzo

Best Documentary feature

  • Winner: OJ: Made in America
  • 13th
  • Fire At Sea
  • I Am Not Your Negro
  • Life, Animated

Best Sound Editing

  • Winner: Arrival – Sylvain Bellemare
  • Deepwater Horizon – Wylie Stateman and Renee Tondelli
  • Hacksaw Ridge – Robert Mackenzie and Andy Wright
  • La La Land – Ai-Ling Lee and Mildred Iatrou Morgan
  • Sully – Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman

Best Sound Mixing

  • Winner: Hacksaw Ridge – Kevin O’Connell, Andy Wright, Robert Mackenzie and Peter Grace
  • 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi – Gary Summers, Jeffrey J Haboush and Mac Ruth
  • Arrival – Bernard Gariepy Strobl and Claude La Haye
  • La La Land – Andy Nelson, Ai-Ling Lee and Steve A Morrow
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – David Parker, Christopher Scarabosio and Stuart Wilson

Best Animated Short

  • Winner: Piper – Alan Barillaro and Marc Sondheimer
  • Blind Vaysha – Theodore Ushev
  • Borrowed Time – Andrew Coats and Lou Hamou-Lhadj
  • Pear Cider and Cigarettes – Robert Valley and Cara Speller
  • Pearl – Patrick Osborne

Best Animated Feature

  • Winner: Zootopia
  • Kubo and the Two Strings
  • Moana
  • My Life as a Zucchini
  • The Red Turtle

Best Production Design

  • Winner: La La Land – David Wasco and Sandy Reynolds-Wasco
  • Arrival – Patrice Vermette and Paul Hotte
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Stuart Craig and Anna Pinnock
  • Hail, Caesar! – Jess Gonchor and Nancy Haigh
  • Passengers – Guy Hendrix Dyas and Gene Serdena

Best Visual Effects

  • Winner: The Jungle Book – Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R Jones and Dan Lemmon
  • Deepwater Horizon – Craig Hammack, Jason Snell, Jason Billington and Burt Dalton
  • Doctor Strange – Stephane Ceretti, Richard Bluff, Vincent Cirelli and Paul Corbould
  • Kubo and the Two Strings – Steve Emerson, Oliver Jones, Brian McLean and Brad Schiff
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – John Knoll, Mohen Leo, Hal Hickel and Neil Corbould

Best Film Editing

  • Winner: Hacksaw Ridge – John Gilbert
  • Arrival – Joe Walker
  • Hell or High Water – Jake Roberts
  • La La Land – Tom Cross
  • Moonlight – Nat Sanders and Joi McMillon

Best Documentary Short

  • Winner: The White Helmets – Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara
  • 4.1 Miles – Daphne Matziaraki
  • Extremis – Dan Krauss
  • Joe’s Violin – Kahane Cooperman and Raphaela Neihausen
  • Watani: My Homeland – Marcel Mettelsiefen and Stephen Ellis

Best Live Action Short

  • Winner: Sing – Kristof Deak and Anna Udvardy
  • Ennemis Interieurs – Selim Azzazi
  • La Femme et le TGV – Timo Von Gunten and Giacun Caduff
  • Silent Nights – Aske Bang and Kim Magnusson
  • Timecode – Juanjo Gimenez

A Reflection on the Grammy Awards

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It’s been nine days since the Grammy’s aired and I’m still registering everything that happened. In short, I found the Grammy awards and I found them…very boring. Aside from Beyoncé’s show-stopping performance, while she was 3 and a half months pregnant, nothing about the show was very impressive. In fact, the show was very predictable and overall it was a poorly produced show.

While I could go on and on about the shortcomings of Sunday’s ceremony, I’m going to focus on the tragedy that was Beyoncé’s loss of Album of the Year. Don’t get me wrong – I not discrediting Adele’s success or talent. In fact, my disappointment and frustrations are aimed primarily at the Recording Academy. To put it bluntly, Adele winning Album of the Year for 25 over Beyoncé’s Lemonade confirms that the monumental impact of Lemonade and its effect on culture for the past year was considered too radical, too “urban”, too musically diverse and too forward thinking for the very traditional and culturally out of touch Recording Academy’s tastes.

The Recoding Academy has a long history of overlooking radical and forward thinking artists work (especially in genres that are dominated by black artists like R&B and Rap) and instead placing focus on safer, more mainstream, more commercial and more “accessible” (read more white) artists and music.

For example, there was last year when Taylor Swift’s commercially successful pop album 1989 won the award over Kendrick Lamar’s critically acclaimed conscious rap masterpiece To Pimp a Butterfly. In addition, Kendrick and his widely-acclaimed album good kid m.A.A.d. city losing 3 Grammys, including Best New Artist and Best Rap Album to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and their album The Heist respectively. The duo is a mediocre rapper-producer team in comparison to the lyrical and conscious rap-genius that is Kendrick Lamar and their album is middle-of-the-road radio-friendly pop-rap. While I don’t discredit any artist’s talent or accomplishments, as a rap music and hip hop fan, there isn’t any comparison between the two artists in terms of talent and acclaim within the rap genre.

Many hip hop acts have been snubbed over the years. Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, 2010’s most critically acclaimed album, wasn’t nominated for Album of Year. Eminem’s Marshall Mathers LP was nominated back in 2001 but lost to jazz-rock duo Steely Dan’s Two Against Nature, a traditional and safe middle of the road album. In fact, the last time that a female hip hop act won the Album of the Year was back in 1999 when Lauryn Hill Won for her still fresh sounding The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.

While these snubs are in large part due to the overt genre bias exhibited by the Recording Academy as well as the Academy’s more subtle racial bias in selecting nominees and winners, they can’t be blamed entirely.

Today there is much more music being released today than ever before thanks in great part to the internet and inventions that utilize the internet. Streaming services like Spotify and video platforms like YouTube are becoming the methods that new artists are using to distribute their music to the public.

It would be impossible for The Recording Academy to take into serious consideration all of the artists who release music in a given year. So naturally, they gravitate their nominations to artists and albums that are buzzworthy in the media and commercially successful, with their critical accolades and taking a diminished importance.

In an age where there is an abundance of music available for consumption attention becomes the resource that is scarce, the one thing that everyone wants but can’t have due to there not being enough. The result is equating commercial success and media attention with critical acclaim even when it’s further from the truth.

With this being said Lemonade was a buzzworthy and commercially successful album mostly due to Beyoncé herself. But what made Lemonade the critically acclaimed and culturally monumental album that it is, is that it was an audiovisual declaration by an artist who, after nearly 20 years as a commercially successful and culturally relevant entertainer, released a work that showed a side of herself many artists with comparable careers are hesitant to show.

Lemonade was a cultural movement for many black women (and black men) simultaneously empowered them while at the same time humanizing one of the industry’s most notoriously private and celebrated entertainers.

Adele’s acceptance speech for Album of the Year was dedicated to Beyoncé. Her declarations about Beyoncé and Lemonade is proof of how even she, as a fellow BeyHive Premium member, believed that the award was rightfully Beyoncé’s. Adele even elaborated on her speech in her press interviews following her win, summing up her disappointment by saying “What the f*** does Beyoncé have to do to win Album of the Year?”

If you take a closer look at Lemonade’s Grammy nominations, much of the work on the album was recognized, with “Formation”, “Hold Up”, “Don’t Hurt Yourself”, and “Freedom” all securing nominations. On the other hand, “Hello” was the only song from 25 that garnered Grammy nominations. How could a significant portion of Lemonade be recognized with nominations, but not be worthy of the night’s top award?

In my eyes, the snub to Beyoncé also came in the form of being awarded the award for Best Urban Contemporary Album (an award that didn’t exist until 2013) which can best be summarized as a bastard subcategory of R&B that the Academy created to exclude the musically eclectic albums of non-white artists from the pop category. This segregation is once again due to the overt genre bias and subtle racial bias of the Academy’s voting process. If Beyoncé was a white artist, a change in a few lyrics and in subject matter would result in Lemonade being categorized as a pop album and her nominations would have reflected that.

If Google “urban contemporary music” you’ll find that it’s basically every popular music genre under the sun (pop, rock, EDM, R&B, etc.) with the modifier that it caters to/is performed by primarily to African American artists.

But if it caters to/is performed by non-white audiences, it’s just called pop music. Beyoncé is a pop star in every sense of the word. She’s one of the biggest stars on the planet. She’s also one of the most accoladed artists as well. She’s the most nominated female artist in Grammy awards history and the second most accoladed female artist, with 22 of those gramophone trophies to her name. But a closer look at her awards and one will notice that all but 1 of her Grammy awards are in the R&B and Pop categories. The only general category Grammy that she’s won is Song of the Year, which she won for Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) in 2010.

As one of the most accoladed artists in Grammy history, it’s surprising that she’s only won a single general category award. The Grammy’s invite Beyoncé to the annual ceremony year after year to perform and shower nominations on her, but when it comes time to give credit where it’s due, they Grammy’s would rather take the safer, more traditional route when selecting a winner.

Over the years we’ve seen Beyonce grow from a commercial R&B entertainer while in Destiny’s Child and in her early solo work, into a conceptual artist who is a master of her craft as an artist and performer and continually pushes to challenge herself artistically. In the years to come, Lemonade will likely stand among Beyonce’s best work and will eventually be considered Beyonce’s magnum opus. So while the grammy’s missed the opportunity to award what is a classic album by one of the biggest artists of our time, the effect that Lemonade had on the music industry and pop culture won’t be forgotten.

Black HerStory Month: Pearl Bailey

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Born: Pearl Mae Bailey on March 29, 1918, in Southampton County, Virginia.

Died: August 17, 1990, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Occupation: Actress, singer

Years Active: 1936 – 1989

Known For: Winning a special Tony Award in 1968 for her title role in the all-black Broadway production of Hello, Dolly!


Pearl Bailey was an actress and singer born in Southampton County, Virginia. Bailey’s natural performing talent emerged while she was young, and by the age of 15 she made her stage singing debut.

After entering an amateur talent contest at the Pearl Theatre in Philadelphia, Bailey won and was offered $35 a week (~$636 today) to perform there for two weeks.

Unfortunately, before her two-week run had concluded, the theater closed and she wasn’t paid. However, it was a second performance at the famous Apollo Theatre in Harlem that ultimately convinced her to pursue a career in entertainment.

In 1946, Bailey made her broadway debut in the production of St. Louis Woman. Her stage career culminated in her most well-known role as the title character in the Broadway production of Hello, Dolly!, for which she won a special Tony Award.

In addition to her successful stage career, Bailey also had distinguished film, television and recording careers.

Her debut film performance was in the 1947 film Variety Girls, in which she played herself. Her other film credits include roles in Carmen Jones, Porgy and Bess, and the animated film The Fox and the Hound.

Bailey’s most distinguished television performances were a guest role on Faye Emerson’s Wonderful Town and a Daytime Emmy Award-winning performance as the fairy godmother in Cindy Eller: A Modern Fairy Tail. She even hosted her own television variety series on ABC called The Pearl Bailey Show from January – May 1971.

Her recording career was no less impressive, spanning 31 albums. Her significant studio recordings included the original motion picture soundtrack of Porgy and Bess, and the Broadway recording of Hello, Dolly!.

During the later years of her career, Bailey wrote five books on topics ranging from cooking to her experiences in higher education. She also appeared on the nationally televised broadcast of the 50th Presidential Inaugural Gala.

Her final crowning achievements include receiving the Screen Actor’s Guild Lifetime Achievement Award in 1976, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom on October 17th, 1988 from President Ronald Reagan.

This is Pearl Bailey’s story.

We hope you enjoyed!

 

 

 

Black HerStory Month: Hazel Scott

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Born: Hazel Dorothy Scott on June 11, 1920, in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

Died: October 12th, 1981 at Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York City, New York

Occupation: Jazz and classical pianist and singer, Actress

Known For: Being the first African-American to host a U.S. network television Series


Hazel Scott was a jazz and classical pianist and singer as well as an actress. Though she was born in Port of Spain, She was taken by her mother to New York City when she was only 4.

In her youth, Scott was recognized as a musical prodigy. A testament to this was the fact that she received scholarships at the age of 8 to study at the Juilliard School. By her teens, she was performing in jazz bands and on the radio.

Due to her high profile throughout the 1930s and 40s, Scott was able to host her own television show (fittingly named The Hazel Scott Show) during the summer of 1950, effectively becoming the first African-American to host a U.S. network television series.

Scott was also one of the first African-Carribean women to receive respectable roles in major Hollywood films.

She was also committed to civil rights. Her activism was primarily focused on the racial injustices that existed in Hollywood. For instance, she declined roles that would portray her as a “singing maid”, a stereotypical stock character for black women.

She also managed to negotiate control of her on-camera image, gaining final cut privileges and utilizing her own wardrobe if she felt the costumes provided to her weren’t to her standards.

For her live tour performances, she refused to perform for segregated audiences, believing that she couldn’t perform for people who’d pay to see her but wouldn’t sit next to someone who looked like her.

Scott’s musical talent and her civil rights activism make her an important part of black history.

This is Hazel Scott’s story.

We’ll be back tomorrow with another Black HerStory post!