Did you know that three African Americans have been nominated for an Oscar for Writing Adapted Screenplay? This is SIGNIFICANT! There is Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney for Moonlight and August Wilson for Fences. While this is not the first time two films have been nominated ,it is important as we look at this year’s reversal of #OscarsSoWhite – recognizing that it is not all about the acting. Yes, there are other categories where African Americans are nominated and I will comment about those in an upcoming post but it is exciting to see the writers getting their shine. Most recently John Ridley won in this category for 12 Years a Slave which many people considered a “Black Movie” given the subject matter of slavery. Interestingly, I don’t feel that Moonlight and Fences is getting the same “Black Movie” talk. There is no doubt that these films could fall in the “Black Movie” bucket but the discussions surround them feel different. Could it be that while August Wilson is looking at Black life, these characters transcend mere Blackness? Could it be that Denzel and Viola et al have have taken these not so hidden figures of broadway and given them life beyond there melanin? Could it be that Moonlight while about a black boy trying to navigate the perils of the city and find himself is crafted in such a way that people think less about color and more about his predicament? I don’t know but I know that the ability of these films to be more than “Black Films” is tied directly to these writers. People want to see movies they can relate to and the ability to take a Black experience and make it interesting and universal is exciting and hopeful. I don’t think for a minute that movies will solve our racial divide but I do think they play a role in showing how people of color share many of the same dreams and hopes of their White counterparts. I do think movies help add dimension to issues and aspects that might make us different. I also think movies provide a forum where we can discuss issues that me might not have if we had not seen the film. I’ve always felt that August Wilson was a national treasure (may he rest in peace) and people in the theater world have know this for a while. I’m so glad that the world is able to see his genius on the big screen. And talk about genius, Jenkins and McCraney found a way to tell a specific story in a universal way. A way were people are talking about this young mans challenges more than his environment – WoW!
Both movies are worthy of their Oscar nominations but more importantly they are worthy of your viewership. – Just Something To Ponder