The cool crisp fall weather has overtaken the blistering heat waves of the summer. It signals the end of popcorn flicks and the ushering in of serious prestige films. For the past two years, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the presenters of the Oscars, has elicited controversy for their lack of diverse nominees, spawning the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. Last year, all twenty acting nominees were white. Will this year be any different? As usual, many of this year’s films carry an indie sensibility. Let’s take a look at the potential contenders that feature actors of color in lead or supporting roles.
During this year’s Sundance Film Festival, The Birth of a Nation, sparked a bidding war. The film’s star, director, and writer, Nate Parker, stars as Nat Turner, a slave that starts an uprising. Already in theaters, it didn’t make as big of a splash at the box office as all involved hoped it would.
Another film garnering praise on the festival circuit is Moonlight. It follows Chiron at three different ages, played by Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes, as he grapples with his sexuality. With a 99% on Rotten Tomatoes, this film is poised to garner at least indie awards attention.
Based on a true story, Lion (November 25) features Dev Patel of Slumdog Millionaire fame as he searches for the family he lost in Calcutta, India after being adopted by an Australian couple. After being separated from his brother playing at a train station, Saroo (Patel) uses Google Earth to track down his past.
Loving showcases Ruth Negga as one half of the interracial married couple sentenced to jail for breaking the law by getting married in 1958 Virginia. Another film based on a true story, it set up a landmark Supreme Court ruling.
Movie star Will Smith leads Collateral Beauty (December 16). In this drama, he plays an advertising executive who encounters three women — love, time, and death — that encourage him to move on from the death of his daughter. The trailer attempts to pull at our heartstrings for a heartwarming holiday film.
Denzel Washington plays Troy in this film adaptation of August Wilson’s Fences (December 25). The most well-known of Wilson’s plays, the story follows the story of an African-American family as it struggles with race relations in the 1950s. Viola Davis, playing Troy’s wife, could also be a contender for a nomination.
Hidden Figures (December 25) puts a trio of leading ladies front and center in this true-life tale. Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monàe play mathematicians at NASA instrumental in helping to launch the first space missions.