Kevin Winter, Joseph Okpako

How Black Will Oscars Night Be? 2022 Predictions

It’s safe to say that we can expect some heavy Blackness.

Culture & Entertainment

This Sunday night will be historic for Will Packer Media. It’s the 94th Oscars, produced by none other than Will Packer and Shayla Cowan – the first all-Black producing team in Oscars’ history.

And xoNecole, a WPM brand, will also be in the building for the first time at Hollywood’s famous Dolby Theater and on the red carpet with Content Queen Danielle Young chatting up your fave nominees, presenters and guests.

Danielle caught up with Shayla earlier this week to get the scoop on what we can expect, so we know that for the first time in history there will be three women hosting the Oscars: Regina Hall, Wanda Sykes and Amy Schumer.

We also know that BEYONCÉ is going to shut the stage down, as she always does, with a performance of her Oscar-nominated song from King Richard, “Be Alive.” The Black presenters at the Oscars include Serena and Venus, Ruth E. Carter, Diddy, Tiffany Haddish, H.E.R., Samuel L. Jackson, Daniel Kaluuya, Zoë Kravitz, Lupita Nyong’o, Tracee Ellis Ross, Tyler Perry and more. It’s safe to say that we can expect some heavy Blackness at the 2022 Oscars.

But who will be in the winners’ circle by the end of the night? Black Hollywood is only up for a few awards, with only four Black actors nominated in the acting category, two films nominated in documentary categories, one in costume design, two in make-up and hairstyling and one for the night’s biggest award: Best Picture. Let’s take a look at their chances.

I appeared on the UK's Sky News to offer up some predictions of the night. Watch below:

Best Actor: Will Smith​

It’s been twenty years since Will Smith and Denzel Washington faced off in the Best Actor category at the Oscars. In 2002, Denzel took home the statue for Training Day over Will’s Ali performance. This year, it’s Will’s turn. As the titular character in King Richard, Will shines as Richard Williams, father of Venus and Serena and the visionary architect of their careers since before they were born. Denzel is fantastic as MacBeth in The Tragedy of MacBeth, but based on how awards season is shaking out, with Will racking up awards at every ceremony from the NAACP Image Awards to the BAFTAs and Critics Choice Awards, it would be a major upset if Will didn’t take home the gold. Here's a clip from his performance which you can watch in full on HBOMax:

Best Actress: No One Black

Also at the 2002 Oscars, Halle Berry made history as the first Black woman to win Best Actress. She tearfully accepted the award and celebrated that “this door tonight has been opened” for Black women. Twenty years later, Halle remains the only Black woman to win the award. Zero Black women were nominated this year, when Jennifer Hudson’s outstanding performance as Aretha Franklin in Respect and Tessa Thompson’s compelling performance in Passing were right there. Of the five white women nominated, my bet is on Jessica Chastain for The Eyes of Tammy Faye, but Kristen Stewart’s transformation into Lady Diana in Spencer should win.

Best Supporting Actress: Ariana DeBose

The always incredible Aunjanue Ellis is up for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Oracene Price, Venus and Serena’s formidable mother, in King Richard. Even with all of her excellence, she still had to fight to be paid fairly for her Oscar-nominated role. I hope this nomination solidifies the respect she’s long-since deserved. But the win is going to Ariana DeBose. The Afro-Latina star of West Side Story sang, danced and acted her way into every major award this season, picking up a BAFTA and a Critics Choice award in the same night just a few weeks ago. Ariana is the brightest part of Steven Spielberg’s remake and she’ll make history by winning the same award Rita Moreno won in the 1961 original West Side Story for the same role of Maria. Here's a clip of Ariana as Maria:

Best Song: Not Beyoncé

The first time I heard Beyoncé’s “Be Alive” as the credits rolled on King Richard, I had chills. The transition from minor to major chords, the lyrics of pride in our Blackness, all over a montage of the real Richard coaching the real Venus and Serena into becoming the greatest athletes of all time, embodied their triumph over every obstacle put in their path. It’s such a moving, beautiful song that was made for us. But while Beyoncé has forever won my heart, the Oscar will probably go to Lin-Manuel Miranda for Encanto’s “Dos Oruguitas,” making him the youngest EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) winner in history. Listen to "Be Alive" here:

Best Documentary Feature: Summer of Soul

?uestlove, in his directorial debut, Summer of Soul, has been racking up the wins all season for his documentary on the six-week summer concert series in 1969 Harlem remembered as "Black Woodstock". On Oscars night, that trend will likely continue, with The Roots' drummer bringing home his first Oscar.

But iconic director Stanley Nelson and Traci A. Curry are also up for the award for their heartbreaking documentary Attica, which covers the 1971 uprising in Attica, NY state prison. It draws much needed attention to the consequences of mass incarceration and the broken prison system today. Attica is truly Oscar-worthy as well. You can watch the documentary in full for free on Showtime.

Best Costume Design: Dune

Famous designer Paul Tazewell is up for his first Oscar nomination for West Side Story. His immaculate designs are worthy of the praise beyond this nomination. But based on how the awards season has been shaking out so far, the front-runner going into Oscars night is Dune, though the team from Cruella did take the award at the Critics Choice Awards a few weeks back. Here's a look at Paul's work which you can watch in full on HBOMax:

Best Make-up and Hair-Styling: The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Two Black women are a part of Coming 2 America’s Oscar-nominated hair and make-up team, Stacey Morris and Carla Farmer, along with prosthetics expert Mike Marino. While the hair and make-up, alongside Ruth Carter’s costume designs, were the best part about that film, the Oscars love a biopic and a full-on transformation, so the statue will likely go to the team behind Jessica Chastain’s redemptive transformation into (in)famous televangelist Tammy Faye for The Eyes of Tammy Faye. Here's a look at Stacey and Carla's work, which you can watch in full on Prime Video:

Best Picture: CODA

Will Smith’s King Richard is up for Best Picture but the heartwarming film has only a slight chance of winning. The Producers Guild Awards Best Picture winners have predicted the Oscars Best Picture winners for the past 22 years, and another heartwarming coming of age film about a child of deaf adults CODA just won the PGA. If AppleTV+’s CODA wins it will be quite the upset, as Netflix’s The Power of the Dog has been racking up the win all season. But either way, it’s likely a streamer will take home the Best Picture win.

Will you be tuning in?

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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