Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Academy Awards: The Countdown Begins

This is the time of year in which the number of award shows honoring its own for the past year’s accomplishments (and in some cases, just being popular) begin to outnumber Simon Leis’ protesters and stupid saps like me are glued to the television, taking in all the hoopla.

Though The American Music Awards, The Golden Globes and The Essence Awards are a few of my top favorite statue-wielding affairs, nothing can top the night in which Oscar is handed to some of the most talented professionals in the motion pictures.

In the late 1990’s, African American actors began an underground protest of the Academy Awards for its disregard, and sometimes blatant refusal, of talented performances by African Americans in a leading or supporting acting role (if you ever say The Color Purple, you would know what I mean).

This dissent obviously did the trick because after a trend of there being several decades between times when African American actors were given the chance to utter the words “Hello Gorgeous!”, the number of Black actors who have accepted the award in the past decade has increased exponentially.

With a little over a month until the next installment of Oscar statuettes are handed out, I wanted to chronicle how far the Academy has come by chronicling the movies and actors of African American heritage have been recognized for their acting ability.

Over this time, I will be taking a look at the following films and actors, all African American, and all whom received an Academy Award for their performance:

Gone With the Wind (1939): Hattie McDaniel
Lilies in the Field (1963): Sidney Poitier
An Officer and a Gentleman (1982): Lou Gossit Jr.
Glory (1989): Denzel Washington
Ghost (1991): Whoopie Goldberg
Jerry McGuire (1996): Cuba Gooding Jr.
Monsters Ball (2001): Halle Berry
Training Day (2001): Denzel Washington
Ray (2004): Jaime Foxx
Dreamgirls (2006): Jennifer Hudson

I would love your input on these films along with your favorite motion picture and/or performance.

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