Danielle Brooks and Taraji P. Henson, standout performers from Blitz Bazawule’s daring re-imagining of Alice Walker’s beloved novel “The Colour Purple,” are vying for recognition in a fiercely aggressive supporting actress race.
Following three consecutive days of screenings in Los Angeles, the movie has garnered enthusiastic applause from voters, critics and trade professionals, sparking burning questions in regards to the potential award prospects for Brooks because the fiercely unbiased Sofia or Henson because the sultry blues singer Shug Avery.
May each safe nominations? And if that’s the case, may both declare the coveted statuette? Insights from Oscar historical past provide some clues.
In February 1940, the Academy of Movement Image Arts and Sciences unveiled the nominees for its twelfth annual ceremony. Among the many supporting actress nominees have been two actresses from “Gone With the Wind”: Olivia de Haviland and eventual Oscar winner Hattie McDaniel, who made historical past as the primary Black individual to win an Academy Award. This marked the inaugural occasion of two actresses from the identical film being acknowledged within the class. Since then, 35 out of 95 Oscar ceremonies have featured two supporting actress nominees from a single movie, with 13 winners rising from these eventualities. The latest instance was Jamie Lee Curtis for “Every thing In every single place All at As soon as,” alongside co-star Stephanie Hsu. Among the many 4 performing classes, the supporting actress race stays probably the most open to double noms from a single film.
Through the post-screening Q&A on the Pacific Design Middle in Hollywood, attended by Brooks, Henson and solid members Fantasia Barrino and Corey Hawkins, the viewers’s fervent response indicated that the 2 standout performers have been clear favorites.
Henson’s portrayal of Shug, a task that beforehand earned Margaret Avery a nod in Steven Spielberg’s 1985 movie, presents a recent interpretation. In musical numbers like “Push Da Button,” Henson’s vibrant and larger-than-life persona shines brightest. Reflecting on her director’s imaginative and prescient for the variation, the Oscar-nominated actress from “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (2008) expressed profound appreciation, remarking that she and the solid have been deeply moved by the challenge’s uniqueness. Henson emphasised, “That doesn’t occur in each challenge. It’s pure magic. I’ve been blessed to expertise this greater than as soon as, however this one was particular.”
Henson rose to prominence as a pregnant prostitute with a musical present in “Hustle and Move” (2005), then gained important recognition in her nominated function within the Fincher movie, which then propelled her to superstardom along with her Emmy-nominated portrayal of the dynamic Cookie on TV’s “Empire.” The trade eagerly anticipates one other accolade for her stellar efficiency, particularly following her impactful function because the NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson in one of the best picture-nominated and SAG ensemble-winning “Hidden Figures” (2016). Her potential for assist inside the Actors Department appears promising.
Whereas getting into Avery’s sneakers might sound daunting for Henson, think about the monumental activity of assuming a task beforehand inhabited by Oprah Winfrey.
Because the spirited and no-nonsense spouse to Harpo (Hawkins), Brooks’ Sofia is positioned because the hopeful and joyous anchor in a story that, at occasions, carries a thematic weight, craving moments of levity. Brooks achieves this with aplomb in sequences like “Hell No,” harking back to the impactful “Cell Block Tango” from one of the best picture-winning musical “Chicago,” which showcased supporting actress winner Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Brooks’ attachment to the musical supply materials runs deep after doing a run within the Broadway present from 2015 to 2017. She recalled “bawling” her eyes out when she noticed the unique model of the present as a result of it starred Black performers. “It was the primary time I noticed individuals who seem like me on this skilled setting,” Brooks says. “I used to be considering ‘Oh my God, there’s a spot for me.’” With outpouring of affection, she’s additionally merely “attempting to discover ways to obtain this love.”
Brooks, much less acknowledged in Hollywood circles, is greatest recognized for her portrayal of the inmate Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson in Netflix’s dramedy collection “Orange Is the New Black.” Her magnetism and standout moments may simply captivate voters’ consideration, mirroring the latest success of a supporting winner from a musical: Ariana DeBose in “West Aspect Story” (2021).
Whereas many have adopted her trajectory by way of awards-worthy performances as Mahalia Jackson in Lifetime’s TV film “Mahalia” and the HBO Max superhero collection “Peacemaker” reverse John Cena, she and her co-stars should rally momentum as one of many last motion pictures for consideration — one thing that isn’t at all times straightforward to execute in a marketing campaign.
With Spielberg and Winfrey serving as producers, “The Colour Purple” faces no hurdles in attracting voters to view it. But, musicals typically face style bias, which may pose a possible problem. The 1985 authentic movie holds a couple of information in Academy historical past: tied with “The Turning Level” (1977) for probably the most losses (going zero for 11) and remaining the only film ever to safe three Black actors’ nominations from any single film. Can the movie replicate this historic feat with Fantasia Barrino within the iconic function?
The precursor season will illuminate the prospects. What stays sure is that the movie’s journey towards recognition in one of the best image class hinges on its performing nominations. Can each Brooks and Henson safe nods? Maybe, however present early reactions counsel Brooks stands because the stronger contender. The solid embarks on worldwide screenings in London this weekend, recognizing the essential affect this voting bloc holds within the Oscars.