Before moving on to some new predictions, I’d just like to take a moment to express my deep, deep concern with this trailer here.
The film in question is “Winnie,” a biopic of Nelson Mandela’s ex-wife. When this project was announced about a year ago with American Idol and “Dreamgirls” star Jennifer Hudson (I staunchly refuse to attach the phrase “Academy Award-winning” to her introduction; AMPAS has quite a bit to answer for on that one), I was already concerned that a prestige Hollywood biopic would gloss over the more ‘distasteful’ details of one of the most fascinatingly complex and troubled women in recent history; I didn’t expect that we would get an absolute whitewash job like this trailer promises.
Now, I know I should refrain judgment until the final product is seen; perhaps the film itself is slightly more balanced than the trailer lets on. But the producers and director Darrell James Roodt should be put on notice: there’s a line between glossing over some details to get a point across and outright changing history. For those of you who don’t know the whole story, during the years her husband was imprisoned, Winnie Mandela was indeed a critical political and spiritual leader in the anti-apartheid movement; but her prominent position did not come without its abuses. Her “security detail” in those years consisted of the Mandela United Football Club, a group of thugs who were just as capable of human rights abuses as the South African government. She was almost certainly directly involved in the kidnapping and murder of 14-year old Stompie Seipei, accused of being an informer against the ANC. She publicly endorsed the practice of necklacing (burning people alive using tires and gasoline) in the fight against apartheid. There’s a moment in the trailer which appears to show Winnie appearing at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, feeling all sorry for herself because she’s being “used as a scapegoat” and then apologizing to someone who I can only imagine is Seipei’s mother, or the mother of another human rights victim. This directly contradicts Mandela’s RECORDED behavior at the Commission, where she was imperious, indignant and steadfastly refused to concede that she had made ANY mistakes in guiding the anti-apartheid movement until Desmond Tutu personally begged her to at least admit that “things went horribly wrong.” She certainly made no personal apologies. And just in case you thought Nelson and Winnie were like the most perfect activist couple ever from looking at that trailer, you might be reminded that she was unfaithful during his incarceration and the couple had essentially separated years before his release, though they weren’t officially divorced until 1996.
Winnie Mandela is certainly a fascinating historical figure, and her story is worthy of greater attention as a case study in the dangers of fighting against extreme injustice. But sweeping aside the more controversial aspects of her life in favor of some weeping violins and gag-inducing title cards like “HER STRENGTH” and “HER COURAGE” isn’t just irresponsible, it’s offensive. Apartheid was not some Hollywood scenario constructed to create inspiring heroes; thousands of lives were at stake, there was brutal violence on both sides, and no major leaders of the time, especially Winnie Mandela, could be filtered into distinct, stereotypical character types.
And I’m not even going to get into the fact that Terrence Howard looks even LESS like Nelson Mandela than Morgan Freeman did. For God’s sake, Hollywood, BLACK PEOPLE DON’T ALL LOOK THE SAME.
All right, rant over. My apologies, but since taking a South African history course a couple years back, I’ve found myself to get rather sensitive on the subject. Now back to your scheduled programming: updated Oscar predictions!! Yayyy!! After a rousing debut last week, “The Fighter” appears to be very much in the thick of things, while “Another Year” continues to lose momentum and “Black Swan” is starting to make a surge; Natalie Portman is saying all the right things on the interview circuit regarding the extreme sexuality of her performance (how “difficult” it was for her, basically), and this really seems like the year the Academy might get a little adventurous. Just a gut feeling (so of course we’ll probably end up with “Secretariat” and “How Do You Know” in the 10 when everything’s said and done).
- The King’s Speech
- The Social Network
- 127 Hours
- The Kids Are All Right
- Toy Story 3
- True Grit
- The Way Back
- The Fighter
- Black Swan
- David Fincher, “The Social Network”
- Tom Hooper, “The King’s Speech”
- Danny Boyle, “127 Hours”
- Ethan and Joel Coen, “True Grit”
- Peter Weir, “The Way Back”
- Colin Firth, “The King’s Speech”
- James Franco, “127 Hours”
- Jeff Bridges, “True Grit”
- Robert Duvall, “Get Low”
- Ryan Gosling, “Blue Valentine”
- Annette Bening, “The Kids Are All Right”
- Natalie Portman, “Black Swan”
- Jennifer Lawrence, “Winter’s Bone”
- Nicole Kidman, “Rabbit Hole”
- Michelle Williams, “Blue Valentine”
- Ed Harris, “The Way Back”
- Geoffrey Rush, “The King’s Speech”
- Mark Ruffalo, “The Kids Are All Right”
- Christian Bale, “The Fighter”
- Andrew Garfield, “The Social Network”
- Miranda Richardson, “Made in Dagenham”
- Melissa Leo, “The Fighter”
- Helena Bonham Carter, “The King’s Speech”
- Dianne Wiest, “Rabbit Hole”
- Elle Fanning, “Somewhere”
- David Speidler, “The King’s Speech”
- Stuart Blumberg, Lisa Cholodenko, “The Kids Are All Right”
- Mike Leigh, “Another Year”
- Christopher Nolan, “Inception”
- Derek Cianfrance, Joey Curtis, Cami Delavigne, “Blue Valentine”
- Aaron Sorkin, “The Social Network”
- Michael Arndt, “Toy Story 3”
- Ethan and Joel Coen, “True Grit”
- Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy, “127 Hours”
- Peter Weir, “The Way Back”
- Rachel Portman, “Never Let Me Go”
- Hans Zimmer, “Inception”
- Alexandre Desplat, “The King’s Speech”
- Randy Newman, “Toy Story 3”
- Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, “The Social Network”
- Roger Deakins, “True Grit”
- Enrique Chediak, Anthony Dod Mantle, “127 Hours”
- Wally Pfister, “Inception”
- Russell Boyd, “The Way Back”
- Danny Cohen, “The King’s Speech”
For those of you who stuck this post out to the end: a little reward in the form of a brand-new poster for “Black Swan,” which combines the starkness of the original theatrical poster with the incredible design of those Art-Deco teaser images I shared a while back, creating a perfect storm of awesomeness which has quickly become my second-favorite poster of the season after “Never Let Me Go.” Love how if you look at it sideways, she definitely becomes reminiscent of a swan, like in the design of those awesome teaser posters (I see her red hand as being the swan’s eye, and her extended arm as its beak; I might be going nuts, but I’m pretty sure that’s there intentionally).
4 thoughts on “Oscar Predictions: 11/18”
We’ve kicked Mr. Jesse Eisenberg off the list, have we? 😦
You’re going to have to point out the swan to me. I can never see these things. Silly ink blots.
Very good predictions!!
I almost agree with all of them, though I think we might be seeing Scorsese in that list too in one form or another.
I finally watched that trailer, and I am horrified. I might not have the issues you do with Jennifer Hudson, but to call Winnie Mandela a scapegoat in the trailer? That’s completely wrong and inconsiderate of those who actually worked to end apartheid without murdering innocent people.
That being said, I’m happy to see Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling back on the list. I know less about the actor race, but I’d say your actress race looks pretty similar to what we’ll see in the nominations.
@ moviegeek: I’m keeping an eye on “Shutter Island” and Martin Scorsese; I’m a bit surprised that the film has stayed in the conversation this long, and we should never discount a movie with that kind of sticking power. But I still believe Academy members have remarkably shorter memories than most people (see: last year’s acting nominations for “Invictus”), so unless “Shutter Island” gets some surprise mentions in critics’ lists or in the guild nominations, I’m not going to hop on that wagon just yet. I could absolutely see an Adapted Screenplay mention for the film no matter what, though; that category’s a little weak this year and the writers’ branch always looks for the underappreciated gems.
@ Abi: The actress race this year is fantastic. I could still see Lesley Manville, Sally Hawkins, Julianne Moore or Carey Mulligan snagging nominations if they get the support in the right places. Hell, even Diane Lane in “Secretariat” if they feel like balancing out the intensity of “Black Swan” and “Blue Valentine” with a little vanilla. First time I can remember when that category is more competitive than the actor race (by all appearances so far, anyway).