You Made Denzel Washington Cry and that is Not Okay
Saying the name Casey Affleck appeared bitter to the taste as Brie Larson announced that he had won the 2017 Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Larson stood stoically by with her eyebrows raised and maintained a tight lipped smile. That smile seemed to be the only thing holding her back from saying what we all were thinking. In that moment, I leapt from my couch and shouted at my television, “IN WHAT WORLD DOES CASEY AFFLECK OUT-ACT DENZEL WASHINGTON?”
My disbelief quickly turned into dismay when the camera panned to Denzel Washington’s face as Affleck began his acceptance speech with, “One of the first people who taught me how to act was Denzel Washington, and I just met him tonight for the first time. Thank you…” I watched as tears welled up in Denzel’s eyes. I imagine he had one of those moments where he was so focused on not letting any tears escape that he couldn’t hear any sound and he dare not blink.
I was reminded of his performance in ‘Glory’ when his character Pvt. Trip endured a cruel lashing while maintaining eye contact with the spineless commanding officer Col. Robert Gould Shaw. A single tear fell from Pvt. Trip’s eye and that tear carried the gravity of the situation. Denzel was robbed, and has been robbed before (Malcolm X), but this time was different.
Denzel threw his entire being into bringing August Wilson’s ‘Fences’ to life on-screen as actor and director. The image of Denzel Washington’s heart breaking after years of dedication to his craft stays with me and adds yet another tarnish to the Academy Awards.
The Academy Awards were put on watch last years with #OscarsSoWhite. Though there were redemptive moments in the victories of Mahershala Ali, Viola Davis, Ezra Edleman, and Asghar Farhadi…the redemption was lost in the Academy’s failure to acknowledge Washington’s brilliance.
In a twist, that only happens ironically in the movies, ‘La La Land’ was incorrectly named Best picture when in fact, Barry Jenkins ‘Moonlight’ won the coveted award. In the end, through the chaos and confusion, ‘Moonlight’ was robbed of its history-making moment and do not let anyone tell you otherwise. A little known fact is that it was veteran actor and consummate professional Denzel Washington, who was still raw from his loss, that told host Jimmy Kimmel and Warren Beaty to get out of the way and allow ‘Moonlight’ to have a moment of shine.