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The Oscars shutting out ‘The Woman King’ is a real disgrace – Andscape

Andscape
No nominations for ‘Nope’ or ‘Till’ make for a frustrating day in Hollywood
This year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences looked at an impressive crop of cinematic contributions by Black women and largely said, “No thanks.” The academy’s celebration of high-flying, big-budget maximalism (See: Elvis, Top Gun: Maverick, and Avatar: The Way of Water), mysteriously did not extend to Nope or The Woman King.
The 10,000-member organization that awards the Oscars announced its nominations for the 95th Academy Awards Tuesday morning, and while Everything Everywhere All at Once deservedly racked up a leading total of 11 nods (All Quiet on the Western Front, The Fabelmans, and The Banshees of Inisherin also did well), the obvious absences as the nominations were announced stung.
The Woman King, the historical action epic starring and produced by actress Viola Davis, went entirely unrecognized, a shutout that defies logic. Danielle Deadwyler, star of Till, was nowhere to be found in the nominations for lead actress despite a wrenching depiction of Mamie Till’s mission to ensure that the barbarism of her son’s killing never went forgotten. Deadwyler is one of the most promising actresses of her generation, something easily observed not just in Till, but in the wildly varying roles that preceded it, including her wary, pragmatic 2019 rendering of Lemon Cassidy in The Devil To Pay, a small indie currently streaming on Netflix. In the history of the Oscars, a Black woman has won best actress exactly once: Halle Berry for the melodramatic cringe-a-thon that was Monster’s Ball (2002).
The directing wing’s failure to recognize the prowess of The Woman King helmer Gina Prince-Bythewood only serves to undermine the credibility of the organization (no Black woman has ever won the Oscar for best director). Even the British Academy Film Awards, which are not exactly a bastion of racial and gender equity, recognized Prince-Bythewood with a nomination for best director. And Sarah Polley, the writer-director of Women Talking, was shut out of the director category, even though she received a nomination for writing and the film is a best picture nominee.
Equally galling is that The Woman King also went unrecognized in technical categories for which it should have been an obvious shoo-in: production design, hair and makeup, costuming, editing, and cinematography.
The insults extended to international film as well — no nod for the riveting Saint Omer, helmed by Alice Diop. And while the most egregious snubs were of films by and about Black women, there was no love for Jordan Peele’s jaw-dropping allegory about the soul-sucking nature of his own industry. Nope merited a nod at the very least for cinematography, and arguably for production design, direction, and costuming as well.
Everett Collection
Those omissions make the scarce triumphs in this year’s nominations harder to celebrate, though I was pleased to see the ever-reliable Brian Tyree Henry recognized with a best supporting actor nomination for his work in Causeway. The same goes for Stephanie Hsu, who has often been overshadowed by her more famous Everything Everywhere All at Once castmates, Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan, who lead the effervescent romp through the multiverse. Angela Bassett netted the second nomination of her career with a nod for best supporting actress for her role as Queen Ramonda in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. In 1994, she was nominated for best actress for her portrayal of Tina Turner in What’s Love Got To Do With It. And Ruth E. Carter, the first Black woman to win an Oscar for costume design, has been nominated again for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, though Hannah Beachler, the film’s production designer (and the first Black woman to win an Oscar for production design, which she took for the first Black Panther film), was also excluded.
Every year I remind myself that the Oscars are not a meritocracy, and 2023 is no different. But in a year chock-full of outstanding, interesting, challenging and varied work in Black cinema, the academy voted once again to undermine its own relevance.
Here is the full list of 2023 Oscar nominees. The ceremony airs live March 12.
Best Picture
All Quiet on the Western Front, Malte Grunert, producer
Avatar: The Way of Water, James Cameron and Jon Landau, producers
The Banshees of Inisherin, Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin and Martin McDonagh, producers
Elvis, Baz Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, Gail Berman, Patrick McCormick and Schuyler Weiss, producers
Everything Everywhere All at Once, Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert and Jonathan Wang, producers
The Fabelmans, Kristie Macosko Krieger, Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner, producers
Tár, Todd Field, Alexandra Milchan and Scott Lambert, producers
Top Gun: Maverick, Tom Cruise, Christopher McQuarrie, David Ellison and Jerry Bruckheimer, producers
Triangle of Sadness, Erik Hemmendorff and Philippe Bober, producers
Women Talking, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner and Frances McDormand, producers
Best Director 
Martin McDonagh, The Banshees of Inisherin
Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, Everything Everywhere All at Once
Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans
Todd Field, Tár
Ruben Östlund, Triangle of Sadness
Best Lead Actor
Austin Butler, Elvis 
Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin
Brendan Fraser, The Whale
Paul Mescal, Aftersun
Bill Nighy, Living
Best Lead Actress
Cate Blanchett, Tár 
Ana de Armas, Blonde
Andrea Riseborough,  To Leslie
Michelle Williams, The Fabelmans
Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once
Best Supporting Actor
Brendan Gleeson, The Banshees of Inisherin
Brian Tyree Henry, Causeway
Judd Hirsch, The Fabelmans
Barry Keoghan, The Banshees of Inisherin
Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once
Best Supporting Actress
Annette Brown/Marvel/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Everett Collection
Angela Bassett, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Hong Chau, The Whale
Kerry Condon, The Banshees of Inisherin
Jamie Lee Curtis, Everything Everywhere All at Once 
Stephanie Hsu, Everything Everywhere All at Once
Best Adapted Screenplay
All Quiet on the Western Front by Edward Berger, Lesley Paterson and Ian Stokell
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery by Rian Johnson
Living by Kazuo Ishiguro
Top Gun: Maverick by Ehren Kruger and Eric Warren Singer and Christopher McQuarrie; story by Peter Craig and Justin Marks
Women Talking, by Sarah Polley
Best Original Screenplay
The Banshees of Inisherin by Martin McDonagh
Everything Everywhere All at Once by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
The Fabelmans, by Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner
Tár by Todd Field
Triangle of Sadness by Ruben Östlund
Best Cinematography 
All Quiet on the Western Front, James Friend
Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths, Darius Khondji
Elvis, Mandy Walker
Empire of Light, Roger Deakins
Tár, Florian Hoffmeister
Best Documentary Feature Film 
All That Breathes, Shaunak Sen, Aman Mann and Teddy Leifer
All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, Laura Poitras, Howard Gertler, John Lyons, Nan Goldin and Yoni Golijov
Fire of Love, Sara Dosa, Shane Boris and Ina Fichman
A House Made of Splinters, Simon Lereng Wilmont and Monica Hellström
Navalny, Daniel Roher, Odessa Rae, Diane Becker, Melanie Miller and Shane Boris
Best Documentary Short Film 
The Elephant Whisperers, Kartiki Gonsalves and Guneet Monga
Haulout, Evgenia Arbugaeva and Maxim Arbugaev
How Do You Measure a Year? Jay Rosenblatt
The Martha Mitchell Effect, Anne Alvergue and Beth Levison
Stranger at the Gate, Joshua Seftel and Conall Jones
Best Film Editing
The Banshees of Inisherin, Mikkel E.G. Nielsen
Elvis, Matt Villa and Jonathan Redmond
Everything Everywhere All at Once, Paul Rogers
Tár, Monika Willi
Top Gun: Maverick, Eddie Hamilton
Best International Feature Film 
All Quiet on the Western Front, Germany
Argentina, 1985 Argentina
Close, Belgium
EO, Poland
The Quiet Girl, Ireland
Best Original Song 
“Applause” from Tell It Like a Woman, music and lyric by Diane Warren
“Hold My Hand” from Top Gun: Maverick, music and lyric by Lady Gaga and BloodPop
“Lift Me Up” from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, music by Tems, Rihanna, Ryan Coogler and Ludwig Goransson; lyric by Tems and Ryan Coogler
“Naatu Naatu” from RRR, music by M.M. Keeravaani; lyric by Chandrabose  
“This Is a Life” from Everything Everywhere All at Once, music by Ryan Lott, David Byrne and Mitski; lyric by Ryan Lott and David Byrne
Best Production Design 
All Quiet on the Western Front, production design: Christian M. Goldbeck; Set Decoration: Ernestine Hipper
Avatar: The Way of Water, production design: Dylan Cole and Ben Procter; set decoration: Vanessa Cole
Babylon, production design: Florencia Martin; set decoration: Anthony Carlino
Elvis, production Design: Catherine Martin and Karen Murphy; set decoration: Bev Dunn
The Fabelmans, production design: Rick Carter; set Decoration: Karen O’Hara
Best Visual Effects
All Quiet on the Western Front, Frank Petzold, Viktor Müller, Markus Frank and Kamil Jafar
Avatar: The Way of Water, Joe Letteri, Richard Baneham, Eric Saindon and Daniel Barrett
The Batman, Dan Lemmon, Russell Earl, Anders Langlands and Dominic Tuohy
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Geoffrey Baumann, Craig Hammack, R. Christopher White and Dan Sudick
Top Gun: Maverick, Ryan Tudhope, Seth Hill, Bryan Litson and Scott R. Fisher
Best Animated Feature Film 
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Guillermo del Toro, Mark Gustafson, Gary Ungar and Alex Bulkley
Marcel the Shell With Shoes On, Dean Fleischer Camp, Elisabeth Holm, Andrew Goldman, Caroline Kaplan and Paul Mezey
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, Joel Crawford and Mark Swift
The Sea Beast, Chris Williams and Jed Schlanger
Turning Red, Domee Shi and Lindsey Collins
Best Animated Short Film
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, Charlie Mackesy and Matthew Freud
The Flying Sailor, Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby
Ice Merchants, João Gonzalez and Bruno Caetano
My Year of Dicks, Sara Gunnarsdóttir and Pamela Ribon
An Ostrich Told Me the World Is Fake and I Think I Believe It, Lachlan Pendragon
Best Costume Design 
Babylon, Mary Zophres
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Ruth Carter
Elvis, Catherine Martin
Everything Everywhere All at Once, Shirley Kurata
Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, Jenny Beavan
Best Live Action Short
An Irish Goodbye, Tom Berkeley and Ross White
Ivalu, Anders Walter and Rebecca Pruzan
Le Pupille, Alice Rohrwacher and Alfonso Cuarón
Night Ride, Eirik Tveiten and Gaute Lid Larssen
The Red Suitcase, Cyrus Neshvad
Best Makeup and Hairstyling 
All Quiet on the Western Front, Heike Merker and Linda Eisenhamerová
The Batman, Naomi Donne, Mike Marino and Mike Fontaine
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Camille Friend and Joel Harlow
Elvis, Mark Coulier, Jason Baird and Aldo Signoretti
The Whale, Adrien Morot, Judy Chin and Anne Marie Bradley
Best Original Score 
All Quiet on the Western Front, Volker Bertelmann
Babylon, Justin Hurwitz
The Banshees of Inisherin, Carter Burwell
Everything Everywhere All at Once, Son Lux
The Fabelmans, John Williams
Best Sound
All Quiet on the Western Front, Viktor Prášil, Frank Kruse, Markus Stemler, Lars Ginzel and Stefan Korte
Avatar: The Way of Water, Julian Howarth, Gwendolyn Yates Whittle, Dick Bernstein, Christopher Boyes, Gary Summers and Michael Hedges
The Batman, Stuart Wilson, William Files, Douglas Murray and Andy Nelson
Elvis, David Lee, Wayne Pashley, Andy Nelson and Michael Keller
Top Gun: Maverick, Mark Weingarten, James H. Mather, Al Nelson, Chris Burdon and Mark Taylor

Soraya Nadia McDonald is the senior culture critic for Andscape. She writes about pop culture, fashion, the arts and literature. She is the 2020 winner of the George Jean Nathan prize for dramatic criticism, a 2020 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism and the runner-up for the 2019 Vernon Jarrett Medal for outstanding reporting on Black life.
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