So according to industry insiders and Oscar procrastinators, there are three actresses right now who are, for sure, a lock to get an Oscar nomination for Best Actress next year -. Michelle Williams for playing Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn, Meryl Streep for her performance as Margret Thatcher in The Iron Lady (though advance reviews for the film have not been good, calling it “dull” and a total softball whitewash job about one of the most divisive politicans in recent British history), and Viola Davis for The Help. And what people are saying is that it’s Davis’ Oscar to lose; that you can bet the farm she’s going to get it, not only for her performance, but also because she’s been in the busniess for a long time, doing consistently solid work, and has paid her dues.
But that got me wondering – considering that her role has both its defenders and critics (and that’s certainly true, judging from the comments we’ve gotten on S & A), I suspect that there will be some black people who will be upset if she wins the the Oscar for what they see as a demanding “subservient” role as a maid. It reminds me how some people complained (and still complain) about Denzel Washington winning the Best Actor Oscar for playing a corrupt evil cop in Training Day, saying that it was a demeaning and (dare I say it?) “negative” role and he was awarded for it.
I always thought that criticism was totally unfair and unwarranted anyway. Washington, like any other talented actor, is always looking to stretch himself, expand his range and do different things. And considering that he’s mainly played heroes – from private detectives to Civil War Union soliders, to submarine commanders, to cops, to teachers, and even an angel – what’s the problem with him playing a bad guy once in a while, like in Training Day and American Gangster?
And, of course, let’s not forget that people are still upset about that Halle-Berry-got-nekkid-and-had-raw-sex-with-a-redneck-white-guy Oscar.
So do you think some people will get upset if Davis gets the Oscar for The Help, playing a maid, instead of for a performance in some movie where she plays, for example, a defense lawyer, or an inspiring teacher?