Yesterday a “woe to black women filmmakers…Oscars-so-white is back” essay appeared in the Los Angeles Times, which of course was one of many articles lamenting the failure of Danielle Deadwyler and Viola Davis to land Best Actress noms for their respective performances in Till and The Woman King.
Written by Robert Daniels, the piece was a complaint about a seeming failure of Academy voters to follow the dictates of equity and quota voting, which basically means “to hell with merit…we’re in an age of social justice course correction and therefore it’s just not right for both Deadwyler and Davis to have come up empty-handed or, if you will, to have been elbowed aside.”
Do I have to remind that the chances of a Davis nomination were more or less out the window the minute those articles about Dahomey having profited from the slave trade appeared last September and October? They gave everyone an excuse to not vote for her.
And of course, Deadywler’s commanding lead performance aside, Till is just an okay or good enough film — it didn’t blow anyone’s socks off. So when Andrea Riseborough and her hardcore rummy performance in To Leslie busted into the conversation two or three weeks ago, it was inevitable (speaking from hindsight) that a weak sister contender would get pushed out. Fairly or unfairly, Deadwyler was the victim in this instance.
Riseborough to Deadwyler: “Excuse me, Danielle, but…wow, this is hard because I don’t know to put this. I absolutely adored your Till performance and all, but it’s not my fault that relatively few people saw it. The cold, cruel fact is that (a) I’m a latecomer and (b) I’m riding a surge, and I’m afraid somebody has to go. I know you’ve been working the circuit for several weeks plus you’re a presumed nominee for two reasons — how good you are in Till plus the equity thing. But I’m tapping you on the shoulder regardless. I’m in and you’re out…sorry.”