Viggo Mortensen was considered a strong contender for a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his performance in Green Book. Last week, however, at a Q&A following a screening, Viggo said the n-word. He apologized afterwards. Now Variety is asking if it will “doom his Oscar chances”. But Green Book might have other problems.
Green Book came out strong at TIFF, winning the People’s Choice Award. But as Joanna noted at the time:
Whether the initial excitement or enthusiasm for Green Book will be tempered by reaction from a different community (notably, the black community) remains to be seen. Three Billboards is a great example of a film that was interrogated for its portrayals of race, police brutality and sexual assault after early praise. So the questions remain about Green Book: Is the film too soft on race relations, or the impact of segregation? Or is it too sympathetic to Tony? For the most part, those exercising caution about the film online appear to have yet to see the movie, like AwardsDaily’s Sasha Stone.
The Green Book backlash might be beginning. Some critics are calling it another white savior film. Jenni Miller, writing for NBC News, calls it a “movie about racism, made by white people for white people”. And now the family of Dr Don Shirley (the musician played by Mahershala Ali in the film) is speaking out against the film’s inaccuracies with his niece telling NPR that:
“There was no due diligence done to afford my family and my deceased uncle the respect of properly representing him, his legacy, his worth and the excellence in which he operated and the excellence in which he lived. It’s once again a depiction of a white man’s version of a Black man’s life. My uncle was an incredibly proud man and an incredibly accomplished man, as are the majority of people in my family. And to depict him as less than, and to depict him and take away from him and make the story about a hero of a white man for this incredibly accomplished Black man is insulting, at best.”
Last year, Three Billboards was not affected by the criticism, at least during the nomination stage. It did not, however, win Best Picture. So far, the objections to Green Book haven’t gotten loud…yet. But, right now, if we’re just talking about the races, and in particular Viggo’s race in the Best Actor category, his competitors are looking a lot less controversial. Will be interesting to see how the Green Book campaign strategists handle this pushback.