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28/3/2002: OSCARS OF COLOUR?

Black was not the only colour of note at this year’s Oscars, but the potentially damaging orchestration of ‘the black Oscars’ overshadowed the green Oscar – the inaugural Best Animated Feature award won by Shrek. Green might also come to symbolise how Denzel Washington might feel when contemplating that his win was somehow engineered, not freely earned, writes Andrew L. Urban.

Let’s put 2 and 2 together. There was the campaign reportedly led by Julia Roberts to have members vote for Washington ‘because it’s time to recognise African American actors.’ Then there was black host, Whoopie Goldberg. That’s 2. Then A Beautiful Mind won the awards for Best Film, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress – but not Best Actor, yet the film rests on the Actor’s shoulders, being a biopic. That’s another 1. And another 1 is the special Oscar for the superstar black actor, Sidney Poitier, whose first Oscar in 1959 was a first for black Americans. So 2 and 2 do make 4.

Ironically, the result will probably help Russell Crowe more than Denzel Washington.

Denzel Washington was one of the nominees, even though I don’t think his role in Training Day stretched him. The nomination is certainly not a sign of him being ignored by the Academy – indeed, it is another example of solid recognition by the Academy that goes back to his first nomination in 1988 (Cry Freedom) and his 1990 win (Glory).

Whatever you thought of the Oscars, you might have to rethink it in the light of these machinations. Next year, it might be time for Yellow Americans? Red Americans? Spanish Americans, dammit.

NB: Of the 13 Oscar nominations enjoyed by Australians, only three were for work on an Australian film (Moulin Rouge) – and Catherine Martin won two of them (one with Brigitte Broch and the other with Angus Strathie) with Nicole Kidman as the third for Best Actress; Andrew Lesnie won the third Australian Oscar for his work on a New Zealand film – Fellowship of the Ring.

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OSCAR WINNERS 2002


Denzel Washington & Halle Berry


Sidney Poitier







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