It’s that time of year again. The time when film critics and novice prognosticators alike will try to accomplish the impossible: Pick who’s going to win an Oscars. We’re not going to sit here and act like we know exactly what’s going down. A popularity contest mixed with a talent show, there seems to be no method to the madness of picking a winner outside of campaigning based around published ads in industry glossies, giant Hollywood freeway billboards, and hype. Winning an Academy Award seems like vying to be prom or homecoming queen.
But this year’s 86th Academy Awards are special because of the success of 12 Years a Slave. It’s directed by Steve McQueen, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, and is up for best picture, while cast members are nominated for best actor, and best supporting actress with Lupita Nyong’o. It’s a black film, with a black director and writer receiving international acclaim. That’s big time, folks. The only thing that would have been better is if another black film would have been in the running for best picture. Say, like, Lee Daniels’ The Butler?
We digress, even though this all illustrates how difficult a task we have undertaken in trying to predict who will win.
Yes, of course we’re cheering for Black folks to win this year. Black history month just ended two days ago. We want the historic underdogs to walk with trophies and acclaim. We want a new notch and more chapters in Black history. We want colored history to be made every day, even in March. So tonight, we’ll be strapped in with borderline skepticism and the twinkle of naïve hope praying the Academy doesn’t trick, depress and disappoint us this year, again. We’ll be chanting, “Please don’t do wrong. Please pick right. Please pick the following wish list of winners tonight.”
It’s a short list. Yes, we know. But these are the only categories we feel somewhat naively hopeful in seeing certain wins.
Best Picture: 12 Years a Slave
Best Actor: Chiwetel Ejiofor
Best Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong'o
Best Director: Steve McQueen
Best Original Screenplay: John Ridley
Best Song: “Happy” by Pharrell Williams from Despicable Me 2