Oscars 2017: Will the Nominees Be a Liberal Rebuke to Donald Trump's Election? Mahershala Ali, Ruth Negga, Denzel Washington, Viola Davis and More Are Likely to Bag Academy Award Nominations

By Shone, Tom | Newsweek, January 20, 2017 | Go to article overview

Oscars 2017: Will the Nominees Be a Liberal Rebuke to Donald Trump's Election? Mahershala Ali, Ruth Negga, Denzel Washington, Viola Davis and More Are Likely to Bag Academy Award Nominations


Shone, Tom, Newsweek


Byline: Tom Shone

It didn't take long. Just days after Donald Trump's election as the 45th president of the United States, as political pundits were weighing such matters as, "Will the emoluments clause be sufficient to curb the president-elect's conflicts of interest?," awards pundits as well were addressing an urgent question. Namely: Who will give the most fiery denunciation of Trump at this year's Oscars?

Too early, you say? The Oscar season, like the presidential election, has become grossly elongated; it's been underway since at least Labor Day. Stars such as Emma Stone, Amy Adams, Hugh Grant and Warren Beatty have been sweeping through publicity-friendly receptions, galas, parties and screenings for weeks, if not months. The Critics' Choice Awards ceremony--generally an accurate barometer for the Academy Awards--has been moved forward to December 11 and will be followed a day later by the Golden Globe nominations. This party has started.

Trump is unlikely to attend the February 26 telecast, which traditionally presents an opportunity for Hollywood to flash its liberal bona fides. Last year turned into a marathon pinata session for Trump-bashers: Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu accepted the best director award for The Revenant with a call to "liberate ourselves from all prejudice and, you know, this tribal thinking;" The Big Short's best adapted screenplay winner, Adam McKay, warned the public against "big banks, oil or weirdo billionaires;" and Andy Serkis, presenting an award for visual effects, compared Trump to a "planet-threatening megalomaniacal monster." Well, Serkis's monster will be in the Oval Office by the time of Oscar night.

Even before Trump, the 2017 Oscars were shaping up to be a pointed rebuke to the much-tweeted accusation--under the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite--that last year's awards lacked diversity. Stung, the academy unanimously approved a series of changes designed to broaden and rejuvenate its membership. As luck would have it, this has been a strong year for black actors. Mahershala Ali is a strong contender for the best supporting actor trophy for his turn as a benevolent drug dealer in Moonlight. Ruth Negga is likely to earn a nomination for her performance in Loving, the story of the Virginia couple whose interracial marriage reshaped American law. And Denzel Washington and Viola Davis are the favorites in the best actor and actress races for Fences, an adaptation of August Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning play about the struggles of a middle-aged black couple in the 1950s. …

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