Processing the announcement of the 2023 Oscar nominations through the lens of African-Americans, Latinos, South Asians and Asians takes some time and effort. There’s a lot missing, and that is Hollywood’s problem. The issue begins at the source, meaning it starts with which films are greenlit and/or funded.

No African/Afro-Latino/African-American actors landed an Oscar nomination in the lead actor category. 

Critics are quick to wiggle their fingers in judgment at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, but the truth is that the lack of diversity and inclusion begins inside the Hollywood machine itself. If films are not greenlit, they won’t get made, and they have no hope of being nominated if they don’t get made. It’s a vicious circle. As people of color, we know that if we don’t keep the pressure on (24 hours, 365 days a year), we will slowly lose ground, and before we know it, we will feel like we’re living inside Jim Crow laws all over again. 

On the positive side of diversity, Angela Bassett made history as the first Marvel actor to be nominated for an Oscar (Best Supporting Actress) for her portrayal of Ramonda, the Queen Mother, in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” the Black Panther sequel. She has already earned several accolades for her role—in addition to winning a Golden Globe and Critics Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress, she also has been nominated for a SAG and a BAFTA. 

Going out on a limb here, but we predict the Oscar for best song will go to “Naatu Naatu” from the global crossover hit film “RRR” directed by director S.S. Rajamouli.

This song is the first to come from a fully funded and produced south Indian film. The momentum is strong for “Naatu Naatu,” which won the best song award at the Golden Globes (January 10) with M.M. Keeravani, the composer of the film’s score and co-writer.

RELATED: Angela Bassett earns Oscar nom for role in ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’

If “Naatu Naatu” wins, it will follow what happened in 2019 with the Oscar going to “Jai Ho” from the film “Slumdog Millionaire,” which also won best picture that year. The composer was A.R. Rahman, who won the best score twice. Note the difference: “Slumdog” was a British production and “RRR” is solely a south Indian production. Southern Indian Cinema is used to refer collectively to the four distinct film industries: Tollywood (Telugu), Kollywood (Tamil), Mollywood (Malayalam) and Sandalwood (Kannada) as a single entity.

SNUBS:

The elephant in the room as it relates to snubs was Ms. Viola Davis, “The Woman King,” which was a big surprise since the film won critical accolades along with box office success.

Danielle Deadwyler in “Till”—directed by Chinonye Chukwu, a Nigerian American—was considered the “breakout” performance for her portrayal of Mamie Till-Mobley, the mother of murdered teen Emmett Till. Indicators pointed in the right direction since she earned a SAG and Critics’ Choice nomination and even won a Gotham Award, but she failed to land an Oscar nomination. 

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” Best Picture: Although the original “Black Panther” became the first Marvel movie to land a best picture nomination, the sequel “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” did get a best picture nomination despite earning a Producers’ Guild Nomination. The film did mark a place in the cinema history books, with Angela Bassett (supporting actress) being the first ever actor to be nominated for a Marvel film.

It’s heartbreaking that no female directors are nominated for best director after a two-year (consecutive) winning streak. Snubbed are the uber-talented Gina Prince-Bythewood (“The Woman King”), Charlotte Wells (“Aftersun”) and Sarah Polley (“Women Talking”).

The other heartbreak is the dismissal of “RRR,” directed by S.S. Rajamouli. His engaging and entertaining film about two real-life Indian revolutionaries eats the screen, stepping into the story with sheer bravado. The film nomination for the song “Naatu Naatu” is nice, but the film deserved a best picture nomination. 

SURPRISES:

Brian Tyree Henry’s nomination under best supporting actor is a lovely surprise. His fellow thespians have been warming to him for a while now. In the film (“Causeway”), he plays the character James, a grieving New Orleans auto mechanic who befriends Jennifer Lawrence’s recuperating soldier Lynsey.

The nomination of Cuban-Spanish Ana de Armas in “Blonde” for best lead actress was another welcome surprise. Interestingly, Monroe’s mother, Gladys Pearl Monroe, was born in Piedras Negras, Mexico, in 1902, according to birth registration documents. The Monroes had immigrated to the town across the border from Eagle Pass, Texas, after a series of droughts ravaged the Midwest in the 1880s. 

In the documentary feature and documentary short film categories, two films were nominated that come from India: “All That Breathes” by Shaunak Sen (HBO Documentary Films, Best Documentary) and “The Elephant Whisperers” by Kartiki Gonsalves (Netflix, Best Documentary Short Film). Both films were highlighted in a recent article for Deadline Hollywood by Sadarangani (https://bit.ly/3R7qsXQ). 

The 95th Academy Awards ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, will honor films released in 2022 and is scheduled to take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California, on March 12, 2023. To see the complete list of Oscar nominations, visit https://www.oscars.org/.

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