Taraji B. Henson and Daniel Brooks’ Oscar Chances

Daniel Brooks and Taraji B. Can Henson both get credit for film music?

In Blitz Bazawule’s daring reimagining of Alice Walker’s beloved novel „The Color Purple,” standout performers Danielle Brooks and Taraji P. Henson compete for recognition in a fiercely competitive supporting actress race.

After three consecutive days of screenings in Los Angeles, the film received rapturous applause from voters, critics and industry experts, prompting burning questions about awards chances for Brooks as the fiercely independent Sophia or Henson as blues singer Shuck Avery.

Can both get nominations? So, can we claim the coveted idol? An insight into Oscar history offers some clues.

In February 1940, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the nominees for its 12th annual ceremony. Among the supporting actress nominees were two actresses from „Gone with the Wind”: Olivia de Havilland and eventual Oscar winner Hattie McDaniel, who made history as the first black woman to win an Academy Award. This marked the first time that two actresses from the same film were recognized in this category. Since then, 35 of the 95 Oscar ceremonies have been nominated for two supporting actresses from the same film, with 13 winners emerging from these sequences. A more recent example is Jamie Lee Curtis, „Everything Everywhere All At Once,” with co-star Stephanie Hsu. Of the four acting categories, the supporting actress race is the most open to double names from a film.

During a post-screening Q&A session at the Pacific Design Center in Hollywood featuring Brooks, Henson and actors Fantasia Barrino and Corey Hawkins, the audience’s enthusiastic response indicated that the two top performers were clear favorites.

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Henson’s portrayal of Shuck in Steven Spielberg’s 1985 film credits Margaret Avery with a new interpretation. In musical numbers like „Push Da Button,” Henson’s vibrant and larger-than-life personality shines brightly. Reflecting on her directorial vision for the adaptation, the Oscar-nominated actress from „The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (2008) expressed deep appreciation, noting that she and the cast were deeply impressed by the uniqueness of the project. Henson emphasized, “That doesn’t happen with every project. It is pure magic. I have been blessed to experience this more than once, but this one is special.

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Henson rose to fame as a pregnant prostitute in the musical „Hustle and Flow” (2005) and later gained significant recognition in her nominated role in the Fincher film, which later catapulted her to superstardom with her Emmy-nominated dynamic portrayal. Following her impactful role as NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson in „Hidden Figures” (2016), for which Cookie was Best Picture-nominated and won the SAG Group on TV’s “Empire,” the industry is eagerly anticipating another accolade for her stellar performance. The potential for his support within the actors branch looks promising.

While stepping into Avery’s shoes may seem daunting for Henson, imagine the monumental task of taking on a role previously inhabited by Oprah Winfrey.

As Harbo’s (Hawkins) vivacious and no-nonsense wife, Brooks’ Sophia is positioned as the hopeful and happy anchor in a story that, at times, carries a thematic weight that yearns for moments of levity. Brooks is reminiscent of „Cell Black Tango,” an influence on the Best Picture-winning musical „Chicago,” which featured supporting actress winner Catherine Zeta-Jones in sequences like „Hell No.”

Brooks’ musical ties to the Broadway show run deep from 2015 to 2017. He remembers bawling his eyes out when he saw the original version of the show, which featured black performers. „It’s the first time I’ve seen people like me in this professional setting,” Brooks says. „I was thinking, 'Oh my God, there’s a place for me.'” Along with the expression of love, she is also „trying to know how to receive this love.”

Little recognized in Hollywood circles, Brooks is best known for her portrayal of inmate Tasha „Tastey” Jefferson in the Netflix drama series „Orange is the New Black.” Her magnetism and unique moments will easily capture the attention of voters, mirroring the recent success of a runner-up from the musical Ariana DeBose in „West Side Story” (2021).

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While many have followed in her footsteps with award-worthy performances like Mahalia Jackson in the Lifetime TV movie “Mahalia” and the HBO Max superhero series “Peacemaker” opposite John Cena, she and her co-stars must gather momentum together in the final films. Considerations – Not always easy to implement in a campaign.

With Spielberg and Winfrey serving as producers, „The Color Purple” has no qualms about appealing to voters. Nevertheless, musical instruments often face genre bias, which can be a potential challenge. The original 1985 film holds some records in Academy history: tied with „The Turning Point” (1977) for most losses (11 to zero) and the only film to receive three black actor nominations from any film. Can the film replicate this historic feat with the iconic role of Fantasia Parrino?

Pioneering season illuminates opportunities. A film’s journey towards recognition in the Best Picture category is certain to depend on its acting nominations. Can Brooks and Henson both get the nod? Perhaps, but current early reactions suggest that Brooks stands as a strong contender. The cast begins international screenings in London this weekend, recognizing the significant influence the voting bloc has on the Oscars.

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