Tag Archives: Harriet

Why are the Oscars Still So White and Male?

This time of year, the buildup to the Oscar nominations is palpable.

The Oscar nominations were announced earlier this week.

Not surprisingly, most of the nominees are white and male. Among the major acting nominations, Cynthia Erivo (Harriet) is the only performer of color who was nominated. In the directing category, Bong Joon-ho (Parasite) is the only non Caucasian to receive the nomination.

Not that those who were nominated don’t deserve their nominations, but there is something to be said for representation. Two of my favorite movies from 2019 are Little Women and The Farewell. Both were directed by women and both were brilliant films. Little Women has 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The Farewell has a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. And yet, in the major categories, did not receive their due.

I don’t know what is in the water in Hollywood. But it feels like like a slap in the face. It’s as if the powers that be are either afraid of diversity or don’t want it. They are content with the status quo which holds up their place in the world.

It’s 2020. It’s time for women and people of color to be seen and given the opportunity to succeed in Hollywood. But that will only happen when the Academy finally admits that they have a problem with diversity.

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My Favorite Movies of 2019

Going to the movies is sometimes akin to stepping onto a roller coaster. Sometimes you love the film your seeking. Sometimes you hate it.

My favorite movies of 2019 are as follows:

  1. The Farewell: The Farewell is my favorite movie of the year because it is heartfelt, genuine and thoroughly human. In the lead role, Awkwafina proves that she can play much more than the comic relief.
  2. Avengers: Endgame: If there was a perfect way to end a film series, this film is it. Balancing both action and narrative, this thrill ride is pure perfection.
  3. Judy: Renee Zellweger is an absolute shoe-in for the Oscars as the late film icon Judy Garland. Disappearing in the role, she tells the true story of the final years of Garland’s life.
  4. Downton Abbey: Transferring a popular television show to the big screen is often easier said than done. The Downton Abbey movie is the perfect film bookend to this beloved television program.
  5. Harriet: This biopic of Harriet Tubman is nothing short of tremendous. In the lead role, Cynthia Erivo is Harriet Tubman.
  6. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: This final entry in the Skywalker saga is not perfect, but it ends with both a nod to the past and an open door to the future.
  7. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The late Fred Rogers was more than a milquetoast children’s TV host. He taught generations of children in ways that go beyond the classroom. Inhabiting the role of Mister Rogers is Tom Hanks, who reminds viewers why we loved him.
  8. Joker: In this re imagined world from that Batman universe, Joaquin Phoenix adds new layers to this iconic character while talking frankly about mental illness.
  9. The Song of Names: Based on the book of the same name, the film follows a man who is trying to discover the secrets of a missing childhood friend.
  10. Frozen II: This sequel to the mega-hit Frozen was well worth the six year wait. Instead of doing a slap-dash direct to video type sequel, the filmmakers expanded this world in new ways, making the story even more relevant.

This will be my last post for 2019. Wherever you are, thank you for reading this year. May 2020 be bright and hopeful.

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Filed under Books, Downton Abbey, Feminism, History, Mental Health, Movie Review, Movies, Star Wars, Television

Why Are There No Best Director Female Golden Globes Nominees?

Art and media have a way of reflecting the world that we live in. In our world, Hollywood is that mirror.

The Golden Globes nominations were announced this week.

The problem with the nominations is that there are no female directors on the list of best director nominees.

Three of my favorite films this year are nominated. They were also directed by women. But their directors were not nominated.

Lulu Wang (The Farewell), Marielle Heller (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood) and Kasi Lemmons (Harriet) are just as good as their male counterparts. But, as usual, they have been overlooked.

I am thoroughly disgusted. According to the press reports, the films and their directors are judged by accomplishment and not by the specific gender of the nominee. However, if one were to look at the list of nominees and winners, past and present, there is a clear pattern. Both in front of the screen and behind the screen, white men are the preference. Women and people of color are tolerated, but only up to a point.

I wish that we lived in a world in which factors such as race and gender meant nothing. I wish that we lived in a world in which we were judged as individuals and not by external factors. But we live in a world in which race and gender play a role in how we live our lives.

Maybe one day we won’t. Until that day, we have no choice but fight for what should be naturally built-in opportunities and rights.

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WTF News Items: Julia Roberts as Harriet Tubman & Kylie Jenner Earns $600 Million In a Day

I normally consider myself to be an easy-going person. Most things just roll off my back.

But two headlines from last week didn’t roll off my back. They sat with me and bothered me.

WTF News Item #1

In the early 1990s, when the script for the film Harriet was first being shopped around to different studios, one hair-brained executive suggested that Julia Roberts play the lead role.

This person’s reasoning was as follows:

“It was so long ago. No one is going to know the difference.”

In a word: no. Don’t get me wrong, Julia Roberts is a fine actress. But that casting, had it become a reality, would have been completely inappropriate.

WTF News Item #2

Companies are bought and sold all of the time. Unless one is in that particular industry, it is just another line of business news. Last week, Kylie Jenner (who is a member of a certain family who shall not be named on this blog) earned $600 million dollars when she sold half of the controlling stake in her cosmetics company to another Coty Inc.

This girl earned more money in a single day than most of us can only dream of earning over our lifetimes. She doesn’t have to get out of bed if she does not want to. Her daughter and any future children will be able to afford any college they want to attend. Student loans will be a foreign concept to them.

I am sure that she did not just snap her fingers and get her company to the point of which half of the controlling stakes are sold for millions of dollars. Like anything that is worth having, it probably took time and effort. But she also has the family name to back her up.

What bothers me is that that amount of money could do a whole lot of good in this world. There are so many people who could benefit from even a 1/10th of the profits of that sale. And yet, those who need the help most may never receive it.

No wonder there is a huge difference between the 1% and the rest of us.

That ends this post of WTF Moments. Have a lovely evening.

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Harriet Movie Review

It’s not uncommon to see a movie/television show or read a story about a man who stands up against injustice. However, the same story with a female protagonist is sadly, not as commonplace.

The new Harriet Tubman biopic, Harriet, was just released in theaters. Known on the plantation as Minty, the future Harriet Tubman (Cynthia Erivo) was born a slave. Though her father was born free, she is enslaved because her mother is a slave. After the death of her master, Minty knows that she will soon be sold. Her only choice is to escape to freedom.

After a 100 mile journey from Maryland, Harriet arrives in Philadelphia. Assisted by William Still (Leslie Odom Jr.) and Marie Buchanon (Janelle Monae), Harriet settles down into the quiet life of a free person of color. But while she resides in freedom, Harriet feels uneasy that her family is still in bondage. This uneasiness sends her back to Maryland, to free as many slaves as possible.

Going back and forth earns Harriet a reputation and a target on her head. One of those who would like to see her captured is Gideon Brodess (Joe Alwyn), the son of the family who owned Harriet. History tells us that Harriet Tubman does eventually achieve her goal, but not without many obstacles in her way.

This movie is brilliant and I believe, a must-see for anyone who believes in the freedoms that the United States is built on. Director and co-screenwriter Kasi Lemmons tells the story of her subject in a manner that simultaneously humanizes Harriet and gives her the proper moment in the spotlight.

I loved this film because it is educational and entertaining. From a writing standpoint, this is a balancing act in which many try, but few succeed. I also loved that there was no love interest for Harriet. Though the viewer is introduced to her first husband, his prominence in the narrative ends with the first act. He is not the raison d’être for everything that occurs within this film. I wish more filmmakers and screenwriters told the story of a female protagonist without relying on a romantic narrative because it’s the easy thing to do.

I absolutely recommend it and I would not be shocked if this film did well come award season.

Harriet is presently in theaters.

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Thoughts On the Harriet Trailer

One of the ills that comes with racism and prejudice is the lack of on-screen representation. Thankfully, many filmmakers are starting to see the light and tell the stories of those who have been ignored or maligned in the past.

The new trailer for the Harriet Tubman biopic was released today. Entitled Harriet, the film stars Cynthia Erivo as the legendary freedom fighter.

Though some may label this film as potential Oscar bait (as films of this nature usually are, especially given it’s November release date), I think the message of the story is more important than the awards it may or may not win. It is also about time that a woman of Harriet Tubman’s stature and bravery was given her due on-screen.

Now we can only hope that the film lives up to the hype and the trailer.

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