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About Gabourey Sidibe and that “Oscar nod”…

article-1126845-031555F1000005DC-261_468x370I think it’s time again to get people royally pissed, which is what I do best, and all this talk about Gabourey Sidibe chances of getting an Oscar nomination finally convinced me to say something I’ve been meaning to post for a while. If Sidibe does get an Oscar nomination, then it will definitely be a “compensation” nomination which the Academy loves to give to actors whose film careers and opportunities are severely limited. It’s the Academy’s way of saying: “We’re so sorry that you’re no Kerry Washington or Halle Berry, so here’s a nomination (or an Oscar) to in some way to make up for that.” It’s really the same reason why Jennifer Hudson got an Oscar for Dreamgirls, though Sidibe’s opportunities are even more limited than Hudson’s.

I predicted after Hudson won that she would be stuck playing the  ”sassy, sexless, overweight but lovable best friend of the thinner lead actress” roles and that’s exactly what she played in Sex in the City. Though her chances would improve greatly if she lost a good 60-70 pounds. Now before any women go off on me, remember I’m dealing with the reality of the situation in the film business and in particular lead actors who would demand a Paula Patton, Rosario Dawson or Beyonce as their co-star. Like for example  Chris Rock , who in his two upcoming films next year, Death at a Funeral and Grown Ups, has as his female co-leads Zoe Saldana in Funeral and Maya Rudolph in Grown Ups.

And the same deal applies to men as well. Forest Whitaker got the Oscar for The Last King of Scotland for the same reasoning (as well as heavily campaigning for the award  behind the scenes like a master) As fine an actor Whitaker is, he is and always will be a supporting character actor, not a leading man. He’ll get a lead role in a film once every decade in a quirky, unusual role (Bird, Last King and Ghost Dog) but he’s not a Will Smith and Idris Elba and the Oscar was a “compensation” for the fact he will be a supporting character actor and never move up to leading man status or a leading man status salary.

As for Sidibe, she’ll most likely appear in a few more independent films in supporting roles (and maybe in a Hollywood film or two) and no doubt she’s got a standing offer from Tyler Perry to appear in one of his films, but Precious will be, most certainly, her only major film role.

Then again I could be wrong, but I wouldn’t bet on it…

21 comments to About Gabourey Sidibe and that “Oscar nod”…

  • pnc

    Sergio.

    Stop pretending.

    You know you like fat black women. Anybody who seeks to disparage them as much as you do is a CLOSETED fatty lover.

    That said, I totally agree with your ‘compensation’ remark. I haven’t seen the film yet, so I don’t know, however Gabourey most likely will never get another role like Precious again.

    I must say I have made it a point to always feature large black women in my films, and guess what Sergio, they will never ever be cast in ”sassy, sexless, overweight but lovable best friend of the thinner lead actress” roles. I’ve never played that role in my own life, so it seems odd when I see the fat chick in that position. I have way too much pride to be reduced to such a lowly position.

    Women are judged for their looks, men rarely so. The longevity of an actor supersedes any actress, so I’m sure Forest Whitaker has a long career ahead of him, and he’ll probably pick up a few more awards.

    Quite frankly, I think ‘thin’ is boring. Because ‘thin’ often means ‘conventional’ and blahhhh. It’s much more interesting to see someone you never see, versus someone who’s always there. In general, I don’t like appreciate anything conventional.

  • ladybug

    I wouldn’t call them compensation nominations or Oscar wins. Though I know where you are coming from. Awards are highly political …. I can’t think of few that aren’t.

    Jennifer Hudson won her Oscar for a single scene in a movie . . . and I actually believe deservedly so . . . its not easy to sing and act in a way that feels honest.

    But on the flip I think that Halle Berry winning her Oscar was totally a compensation Oscar . . . Halle’s work in Monsters Ball was hardly the best work of the year . . . but it was Halle’s best work to date . . . she hasn’t matched it since. But add to that all the articles about African Americans and never winning the big prize . . . I think it contributed to her win. I also would like to state . . .we don’t win Oscars . . . because we rarely appear in movies that are Oscar worthy . . . we get Tyler Perry fare to act in . . . so if African Americans want to win more Oscars, they might want to support the work of independent film makers who are making an effort to present films that challenge . . . film as art.

    If Sadibe does get a nomination . . . I say great if she delivers the goods . . . if its about limits of career . . then no!. . . every actor has something working against them . . . and for them.

    As for Forest . . . he deserved that Oscar . . . did the voters think . . . will he get a role like this again . . .maybe . . . but I think Forests performance stand on its own.

  • ladyglen ChicagoStyle

    In the case of Jennifer Hudson, I say all the credit goes to director Bill Condon for directing her in that “single scene” you write of. He deserved an Oscar for his direction of non actresses Jennifer Hudson and Beyonce and got robbed. However, I disagree with you about Forest. Forest is a brilliant actor and director. He deserved the Oscar based on his talent!

  • Sergio

    @Ladybug and Ladyglen

    You misunderstand me, I didn’t mean to suggest that Whitaker didn’t deserve the Oscar for his performance, but the fact that not’s not a leading man type definitely helped him in his favor.

  • grace

    Sexless??!! Hudson married a hot guy in Sex and the City — and was getting hit on by a guy while she was in a bar — and contrasted SJ Parker’s unlucky in love plot line. She even had a scene where she got to flash her engagement ring. Did u see the movie? And she was fly in it.

  • Ed DuRante

    Tambay, I think your assessment is spot on.

  • Ed DuRante

    Mea Culpa.
    I do mean Sergio.

  • Dear Gabourey Sidibe,

    What do you want to know? Don’t wait for a pageant girl to say my dream is for civilocity to be instated and achieve world peace.

  • helen

    After reading the above article it appears to me that being thin isnt the key for African American women to win a leading role in a film, you just have to be “light, bright and damn near white”; Paula Patton, Maya Rudolph & Beyonce or “racially ambiguous” Rosario Dawson & Zoe Saldana. We all know that Gabrielle Union, Sanaa Lathan, Kimberly Elise and Nia Long(remember how “thick” she was in boyz) are thin women and are rarely portrayed as leading ladies, maybe they should invest in some bleaching cream….

  • Let the pissed off bitches begin…As a overweight black woman in this industry, I totally take offense to your post for many reasons.

    First on the compensation point. Sometimes its not the actors skill level that commands the Oscar, but their connection to the audience. Riveting emotion sells no matter your size or race. It is such ignorance to think otherwise. People will connect to Precious because of her pain. The Oscar buzz is born out of passion and compassion not pity.

    Secondly, while we have certainly been limited with roles in the past we are increasingly in demand. Why? Because people want to see other people that look like them. The success of Lifetime’s “Drop Dead Diva” should be testament of that. As women step into more producer and director roles the landscape of Hollywood has begun to change.

    Lastly, you are entitled to your limited perspective, however you are no authority on the human spirit.

  • John

    I’m not black, so I perhaps just don’t have the contextual life experience to properly grasp your point. That said, I could not disagree more. While it’s true that Sidibe is unlikely to have future acting opportunities as “juicy” as this one–that’s just the nature of the beast–I wholeheartedly disagree that this is the reason for her Oscar buzz. I’ve just left a screening of the film and the girl is just unbelievable. I’m astounded at the talent I’ve just witnessed–and this is coming from a cynical, tough to please industry veteran. To suggest her buzz is a consolation prize denigrates the peerless work she has done and is injurious to the credibility of her performance.

  • E Forde

    I saw Precious last night and while I think Gabourey Sidibe will get nominated it wont be a “compensation nomination”.

    She stars in a powerful film in a year that so far hasn’t had many good/great films. The film has a lot of Oscar buzz so it’s a given that she’ll probably get nominated off the back of the fact the films a lock for one of the ten Best Picture slots.

    That said I can’t see her winning (Abbie Cornish – An Education would be my bet) as her performance is at best Good not really outstanding.

  • For those decrying of Gabourey Sidibe’s supposed (and inaccurate) “good, but not really outstanding” performance clearly have not seen the rising actress off-camera and during interviews. Nor do you understand the extremities of her character’s circumstances. There’s a sense of detachment and indifference coming from some of the comments I’ve been reading. Precious is the polar opposite of who she really is. Her performance was devastating, natural and utterly brilliant that is deserving of any plaudits and praise coming its way. And for the record, I think she is beautiful.

    • Still ain’t seen the movie yet, so I’m gonna reserve judgement on her performance. However, Michael has a point; I just saw her on Conan last night and she doesn’t even LOOK like the same person from the trailer! In fact, she was pretty damn funny on Tonight (REALLY didn’t expect that)! Her back-and-forth banter with O’Brien was hilarious; so much so in fact, that Conan hesitated a bit when he segued in the Precious clip…they were having so much damn fun! Comedy may actually be her true calling, but I guess we’ll have to see what the next role brings. Hopefully, she won’t get typecast (it’s actually the SECOND role that does it) and become a solid character actress.

  • Saundra

    I agree with a lot of what you’re saying EXCEPT Whitaker completely deserved that Oscar!!

  • RB

    This is one of the dumbest things I have EVER read. Gabby was riveting as Precious – one of the most engaging performances I have ever seen in a film. She WAS the movie – she was in about every second of it. If she had not been phenomenal, the movie would not be as highly regarded/powerful as it is. If she doesn’t get a nomination, I will not watch the awards. (perhaps I will tune in to watch Mo’Nique win for her devasting/terrifying performance). Has Sergio even SEEN ‘Precious’?? She is also the polar opposite of her character in real life and I have confidence that she will be phenomenal in other roles – especially considering she will probably not have to make such a great transformation as she did here(physically/vocally). Wish her a bright future – she’s phenomenal).

  • RB

    I also hear Gabby sings (she was very charismatic in the fantasy sequences) so we may also be seeing her do that in the near future.

  • Sergio

    Amazing the someone can read something yet somehow see something else completely different. Show me anywhere in my piece where I said that she didn’t give a good performance or that if she got a nomination that she didn’t deserve it? (And for that matter where did I say that Whitaker didn’t deserve his Oscar) I said that if she gets one, and no doubt she will, it will be not only for her performance, but also for the fact that she’s hard to cast and her film career will be limited. So her nomination is a sort of compensation for that. Just like how Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Hillary Swank have gotten Oscars for the very same reasons as well, for their performances and the fact that they’re difficult to cast in roles. Now of course I realize that many people are quite upset at that statement but the simple fact is that Will Smith will always get more lead roles than Whitaker, who’s mainly a supporting character actor and Beyonce and her non acting ass will always get more offers than Sibide and have actors tripping over themselves to get her to be their leading lady (unless Paula Patton and Alicia Keyes are available) You may not like to hear that and you can call me every rotten name in the book, but those are the facts.

  • username

    they said its \"one of the dumbest things\" not the \"absolute dumbest thing.\" ive certainly read far dumber pieces. anyway…
    who knows what the future holds for gabby- she certainly has become a \"star\" of sorts and now has lee daniels, tyler perry and even oprah on her side.
    didnt she just spend the weekend at george lucas\’ house? i think filmmakers will want to write new parts for her. she was wonderful as precious