I’ve been watching the Oscars since I was a child. It was the year of Best Picture Kramer vs Kramer, the film about divorce. My ma had just left my dad a couple of years before and he, like Dustin Hoffman, was figuring out how to do the single parent thing. I wasn’t old enough to properly understand his personal connection but the film’s imagery that night during the show felt familiar to me. I could project my cracked family portrait onto the Kramers’, I could see my father in Dustin, my mother in Meryl Streep. And from there that projection became the standard for most of the Hollywood movies featured at the Oscars that I was watching over the years. Because for the most part, Hollywood wasn’t making and awarding films with non-white actors.
Yesterday then was a weird experience for many of us of East Asian descent. Asian actors were nominated in three out of the four acting categories. In the Best Supporting Actress category, there are TWO East Asian nominees – Hong Chau for The Whale and Stephanie Hsu for Everything Everywhere All At Once. Ke Huy Quan has been nominated for Best Supporting Actor and for the first time in the Oscar Academy’s 95 year history, an Asian woman has been nominated for Best Actress. Of her nomination, Michelle Yeoh told The Hollywood Reporter that:
“It’s taken a long time. But I think this is more than me. At the present moment, constantly, all the time, having Asians walking up to me saying, ‘You can do it, you’re doing it for us.’ It’s like, ‘I understand. I totally understand.’ All this time, they’ve not been recognized, they’ve not been heard.”
That’s why it felt so strange yesterday, hearing so many Asian names on nomination day. It’s just not an experience we’re used to. Like, for sure, it is amazing that these artists are being recognised. But amazement doesn’t negate perspective. Because it took almost a hundred years, almost a f-cking century, for an Asian woman to be nominated for Best Actress. And just because it was a historic day for Asians doesn’t give the Academy a pass for its ongoing shortcomings. If you’ve seen Danielle Deadwyler in Till, you’re probably having as hard of a time as I am trying to understand how she was left off the ballot.
Here are the only two Black actors who received nominations yesterday – the incomparable Angela Bassett and the force of talent that is Brian Tyree Henry.
Angela Bassett complimenting Brian Tyree Henry until he starts cryingâ€¦whew! Iâ€™m emotional pic.twitter.com/ESo3FJlXxc— Spencer Althouse (@SpencerAlthouse) January 23, 2023
Yours in gossip,
Attached - Michelle Yeoh front row at the Giorgio Armani Prive show yesterday in Paris and Stephanie Hsu at The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last week in New York.