In an Oscar race sprinkled with fresh faces, one individual of color stands out and that’s Denzel Washington. A familiar face in the Academy’s 90-year history, Washington has received nine nominations in his 40-year acting career, winning just two of those golden statuettes.
His latest nomination, a best actor nod, comes for his role as an idealistic defense attorney in the movie “Roman J. Israel, Esq.,” a film in which he re-teamed with writer-director Dan Gilroy to create the portrait of a layered, complex man whose life has been spent fighting for others’ civil rights.
Washington received his first Oscar nomination in 1987 at the 60th Academy Awards where he was nominated for a supporting actor accolade for his gripping portrayal of civil rights activist Steve Biko in the film “Cry Freedom.” A second supporting actor nomination followed two years later at the 62nd Academy Awards for the historical war drama “Glory,” which earned him his first Oscar. More Oscar nominations followed for best actor nods for “Malcolm X” in 1992 and “The Hurricane” in 1999, but it wasn’t until 2001 Washington received his second Oscar, a best actor accolade for his portrayal of the corrupt cop in the crime thriller “Training Day.”
Since then, there have two more nominations, one in 2012 for the movie “Flight” and at last year’s 89th Academy Awards where he received a best actor nomination for “Fences” (the film was also nominated for best motion picture). Washington remains the only African-American who has received the most Oscar nominations earning his ninth nod at the 90th Academy Awards, announced just this morning by Andy Serkis and Tiffany Haddish at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.
Also nominated was Octavia Spencer, who earned a supporting actress nod for her surreal fantasy romance “The Shape of Water,” her third Oscar nomination and the most for a black actress (Meryl Streep still holds the record for the most Oscar norms, nabbing her 21st nomination for her work in “The Post.”).
Former Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant’s animated short film, “Dear Basketball,” also received a nomination for best animated short film and in the motion picture category, Jordan Peele became the fifth African-American nominated in the directing category, and only the third person to have Best Picture, Writing, and Directing nominations for his feature film debut “Get Out,” which also nabbed Afro-British actor Daniel Kaluuya a best actor nod. Mary J. Blige earned her first Oscar acting nomination for “Mudbound. The song “Mighty River” from the film also earned her a Best Original Song nomination.
Jimmy Kimmel will return as the host of the film industry’s biggest awards, which will once again be held at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, and televised live on Sunday March 4th on the ABC Television Network.
Samantha Ofole-Prince is a journalist and movie critic who covers industry-specific news that includes television and film. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org/Photos courtesy of A.M.P.A.S