Last Monday night I was all but roasted alive by a Twitter mob for tweeting that the Ferguson Grand Jury decision might, in a gradual, roundabout way, eventually feed into Academy support for Ava DuVernay‘s Selma. This might happen, I tried to suggest, as a ‘strike a match rather than curse the darkness’ response to an otherwise tragic event. And yet three days later DuVernay alluded to a similar symbiosis when she told Indiewire‘s Eric Kohn that the events in Ferguson and Selma 49 years ago were “the same story repeated…the same exact story.” And now New York Post critic Lou Lumenick has posted a piece that evaluates to what extent Ferguson events may help or hinder Selma‘s award-season prospects.
Variety‘s Timothy Gray has joined in also, although his piece asks if reactions to the Ferguson tragedy may also blend into discussions about another racially-focused award season hopeful — Mike Binder and Kevin Costner‘s Black or White.
A child-custody drama that asks whether a young African-American girl should be raised by her affluent, boozy white grandfather (Costner) or by other family members in South Central, Black or White “has an immediacy,” Gray says. “No matter who you think is right in Ferguson, Missouri, this past week’s events prove that race relations in this country are a mess. Hollywood movies have addressed bigotry for many decades and the message is inevitably ‘can’t we all just get along?’ At this point, it’s hard to add something new to the conversation, but writer-director Mike Binder raises points of view that are rarely depicted.
“Costner is great as a prosperous L.A. man in a custody battle with a woman (supporting actress Octavia Spencer) over their biracial granddaughter. Both want what’s best for the girl and insist that race has nothing to do with it. But they slowly realize that prejudices, on every side, are more ingrained than they’d like to admit.
“Binder brought the script to Costner, who not only agreed to star but put his own money into the production after the major studios passed. So you can’t help rooting for it. In any other year, Costner would be a shoo-in for a best actor Oscar nomination.”
And yet, Gray admits, Black or White “is in danger of being overshadowed by Selma, as if the awards season only has room for one movie about race relations.”
One thing’s for sure — the people who went after me last Monday night with axes and chain saws are nothing but stinking Twitter bitches. My sin wasn’t that I raised the notion of possible linkage between Ferguson events and award-season determinations. My sin (apart from tweeting my thoughts in a clumsy and inelegant manner, which I admitted to last Monday night) was being the first to mention it. In other words, I wasn’t wrong but I spoke “too soon,” as a friend told me this morning.