Was DEAR WHITE PEOPLE the Academy’s biggest oversight?

Much has been made, since the release of the Oscar nominations the other day, over the egregious failure of the Academy to recognize the fine work of David Oyelowo and director Ava DuVernay from Selma. I’d like to point out another bad call: the absence of Justin Simien from the Best Original Screenplay category for his fine work on Dear White People, which he also directed. I am reminded that it was 25 years ago that the young Spike Lee received his first Oscar nomination, in that same category, for Do the Right Thing.

Tyler James Williams as Lionel Higgens iun Dear White People
Tyler James Williams as Lionel Higgens in Dear White People

For fans of the early Lee there are echos throughout all of Dear White People of elements from Do the Right Thing as well as Jungle Fever and Bamboozled.  Tyler James Williams’ Lionel (pictured above) ranks with Lee’s portrayl of Mookie as a kind of updated paradigm for everything right and wrong with the current generation.

Tyler Williams is sort of adorable (never quite the right adjective for Lee) and you can’t help but want to give him a big hug when he, too, finally rises to seize his moment.

You should seize the moment, too,  and get to see this clever, funny and provocative little film.  I’ve no doubt that the Original Screenplay nod would have made it easier for Simien to raise funds for his next film, so the least when can do is clock up some views to help bolster it’s revenue!


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