Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Oscars 2017: Films That Could Prevent #OscarsSoWhite From Trending

As we all know, for the second year in a row, the Oscars have underwent harsh criticism for its lack of diversity in the nominees. Even if they nominated Creed and Straight Outta Compton, they still recognized the white talent involved. But thankfully, we have a boatload of films that have potential to put that tired hashtag I've become tired of seeing and talking about to bed. Let's take a look:

First off is Birth Of A Nation. That one might already be a safe bet to be in the Best Picture race. It's about racism, Fox Searchlight bought it for a huge sum of $17.5 million which means it'll likely be their top contender, etc. The racial drama Loving about the real-life interracial Loving couple that got imprisoned for attempting to get married was picked up by Focus Features and will likely be their top prospect, I would imagine, after this whole controversy.

Next up is Lion which is based on a true story about an Indian boy who sets off to find his adoptive family. It's being produced by Harvey Weinstein and stars Dev Patel alongside Oscar club members Rooney Mara and Nicole Kidman. It's getting a timely Thanksgiving release date and if Harvey's past movies that came out around that time are any indication (The Imitation Game, Silver Linings Playbook, etc.), it's possibly going to be his top dog in this race.

Now, this next one I would take with a grain of salt. That film is Queen of Katwe starring Lupita Nyong'o and David Oyelowo. While it is based on a true story (which they love) about a female chess prodigy from Africa, the reason I would take it with a grain of salt is because female-driven stories tend to have a more difficult time breaking through into Best Picture. Plus, the fact that this about a black female with a mostly black cast and is even directed by Mira Nair, a woman of color, means that they have hurdles to overcome. Not trying to seem cynical. I'm just saying to be careful when putting this on your predictions.

David Oyelowo's other film that he has lined up is A United Kingdom opposite Rosamund Pike where he plays a prince from Botswana who becomes married to a British white woman. It is also directed by Belle's Amma Asante who is also a woman of color. With her and Mira Nair likely getting in the conversation, they'll have more opportunities to make history by nominating the first black woman and/or the first Indian woman, respectively, for Best Director. But as of right now, A United Kingdom doesn't have a U.S. distributor. So if it hits the festival circuit, we'll see what happens.

Ang Lee has accomplished the rare feat of winning two Best Director Oscars only for his films not to win Best Picture. Maybe that could change with his latest film, the war satire Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk starring Steve Martin, Vin Diesel, Kristen Stewart, Chris Tucker, and newcomer Joe Alwyn.

While Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu won two back-to-back directing Oscars, why not put a spotlight on his fellow Hispanic directors?! One who could get it is director J.A. Bayona from Spain who has the fantasy A Monster Calls under his belt. While the word 'fantasy' might encourage caution due to their bias against the genre, could it be this year's Pan's Labyrinth, perhaps? Also, the Jackie Kennedy biopic Jackie by Chilean director Pablo Larrain and starring Natalie Portman could get a release if it is completed by the end of this year.

Brad Pitt has been something of a good luck charm as a producer, winning Best Picture for 12 Years A Slave and getting two subsequent nominations for Selma and The Big Short. He could find hid way back into the awards race as he partners with A24 Films which is coming off 3 recent Oscar wins for the upcoming coming-of-age story Moonlight about a young man who grows up in drug-ridden Miami. The cast includes Naomie Harris, singer Janelle Monae, and Mahershalal Ali aka Boggs from The Hunger Games.

Going back to women directors, director Niki Caro has guided some of her ladies like Keisha Castle-Hughes, Charlize Theron, and Frances McDormand to the Oscar ceremony. She could certainly strike again as she has the Holocaust drama The Zookeeper's Wife with Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain under her belt. Maybe she could not only guide Chastain to another nomination, but get recognition for her efforts as well.

So they definitely have opportunities to break this hashtag this year. It's just a question of whether their buzz can maintain and/or grow by the time voting hits. Whether you agree or disagree, please feel free to write your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks for reading!