And I Am Telling You It’s Oscar Time Again

The nominations were announced this morning, and the omission of Dreamgirls, the most honored film of the year, from the Best Picture category ignited cries of foul from lovers of the movie.

Over the years there have been plenty of nominees and winners that left me scratching my head. Like how on earth could Art Carney have won a Best Actor statuette for Harry and Tonto over the likes of Dustin Hoffman in Lenny, Jack Nicholson in Chinatown, and Al Pacino in The Godfather Part II, for instance. Or why Malcolm X failed to make the final cut for Best Picture (okay, maybe that one can be explained by the Academy not liking Spike Lee.) Or why Rocky beat out Taxi Driver, Network, and All The President’s Men for Best Picture. Or how any movie can be nominated for Best Picture without receiving the same recognition for its director. Don't the two go hand in hand? Whose picture is it, anyway?

I for one am not too upset by what many perceive as a snub. Granted, I haven’t seen Dreamgirls. It was on my To Do list during my recent five-week break between temp assignments, but I got so bogged down going over 850 pages of copyedits and doing rewrites here and there, plus working on new proposals, that I didn't make it, and now I'm been called back to another assignment. But I did ee the play back in the 1980s, with its original cast of Sheryl Lee Ralph as Deena, Loretta Devine as Lorell, Jennifer Holliday as Effie, and Obba Babatunde in, if I recall correctly, the role of Effie's brother. Even then, I thought that, while glittery and a showcase for 1960s costumes and wigs, the story seemed a little thin and the songs unmemorable (while Jennifer Holliday undeniably put everything she had into her big number, her voice was always too raw for my taste . . . and if I only had a quarter for each time an amateur show contestant has screamed out that song in the years since.) I was quite surprised when I heard they were making it into a feature film.

Some people are crying racism. Others say that the movie only came to life when Jennifer Hudson or Eddie Murphy were on the screen, and lackluster at other times. Others have said that Jennifer Hudson - at this point in her career more of a singer than an actress - wasn’t even all that hot, other than her shining moment when she sang that song, but that the seasoned Eddie Murphy really shone throughout.

I’m inclined to discount the racism factor, based solely on the stage version that I saw, which was enjoyable at the time but largely forgettable, like most musicals. God forbid people take a page from the Jet magazine playbook, always whining about all the performances that were overlooked by the Academy (and then proceeding to list every single performance by black actors in the year.) Someone at Jet actually wrote that Whitney Houston’s acting in Waiting to Exhale was worthy of a nomination.

Many folks upset by the Dreamgirls flap have stated courtesy of the Internet that they will not watch the broadcast when the awards are given out. I’ll be tuning in on Oscar night to root for Forest Whitaker (who might lose to Peter O’Toole, an excellent actor past 70 (he looks 90) who, if he loses again will hold the record for the most nods with winning.)

But there's something to be happy for. Since only original compositions written specifically for film are eligible for award nominations, I won’t have to sit through another performance of that song.