With a little luck, the hashtag “oscarsowhite” will be but a distant memory when the 89th Annual Academy Awards are handed out Feb. 26.
You could see it in the nominations, which handed out a lot of love to “Moonlight,” “Lion” and “Fences.”
You can see it in Denzel’s surprise win at the Screen Actor’s Guild Awards. Sure, the season-long love fest has been for “La La Land” — it’s always daring when Hollywood dares to shower its love on itself (See “Crash,” “Argo,” etc.). But “Fences” and other pictures seem to have a certain momentum in the buzz. Black actors matter, and so do other performers of color.
And you can see it in the odds bookmakers are giving for Academy Awards, especially those at SportsBettingDime.com , which suggest that maybe the momentum is shifting. Perhaps Affleck is earning the perception of “damaged goods,” perhaps the giddiness over “La La Land” is fading.
Trevor Dueck at Sports Betting Dime says, sure, “La La Land” is still the heavy favorite for Best Picture. And Damien Chazelle seems like a lock for best director.
Ruth Negga is a 15/1 long shot for best actress in the Oscar-ignored “Loving,” my pick for the best picture of 2016 (but not Oscar’s).
But Denzel has closed the gap with best actor favorite Casey Affleck (7/3 on Affleck, 3/1 Washington). The SAG win could signal a tilt in Washington’s direction.
Washington’s co-star in the film he also directed, “Fences,” seems like a lock. The long-deserving Viola Davis (13/7) is where the smart money is going pre-Oscar night.
Mahershala Ali of “Moonlight” is best supporting actor favorite (3/2).
African-American director Barry Jenkins of “Moonlight” is given a very good shot at a best director upset (3/1) but is the favorite (13/7) for best adapted screenplay.
And look at the Oscar nominated feature documentaries. “I Am Not Your Negro,” “The 13th,” and “O.J.: Made in America” — all tightly knotted among the oddsmakers, all African-American subject non-fiction films.
A lot of these predictions don’t jibe with the Golden Globes, but I had the sense, watching a little of that telecast this year and scanning the list of winners, that the Globes have lost the last vestige of their “best Oscar predictor/steal Oscar’s thunder” relevance. Critics Choice Awards, SAG, DGA — still reliable indicators.
And if you’re the wagering sort, that’s what you want.