When we look back at the 2014 awards season many years from now, Lupita Nyong’o’s name is sure to show up as one of the biggest breakout stars of the day. And we can see why. She’s Hollywood’s current it-girl on the screen (Angela Bassett described her performance in Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave as transcendent, enthralling and honest) and of screen (Vogue named her one of the Top Ten Rising Style Stars of 2014).
But is her huge popularity enough to take home the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role tonight? Although she may be a front-runner for the prize, fellow nominee Jennifer Lawrence of American Hustle is stiff competition.
Judging from previous awards, it looks like J. Law may have it in the bag. At just 23 years of age, this year’s Golden Globe and BAFTA winner may give Lupita a run for her money. She’s already been nominated for an Oscar three times and won once. Plus, her quiet, non-campaigning approach this Oscar season is, in some critic’s eyes, admirable.
“Lawrence’s willingness to take a back seat during Oscar season has been admirable — she’s bailed on the events it’s too hard to get to as a result of her extreme career success, courting the possibility it might lead to someone else winning an Oscar,” Salon’s Daniel D’ Addario writes. “If she wins the prize on Sunday, it’ll be in spite of her work to signal that she’s doing fine as is. And in that event, any backlash should be directed at the Oscars, not at her; short of retiring from acting, there’s little more Lawrence could do to avoid acting honors.”
Judging by the performance that sticks with you the most, Lupita is the definite winner. When it comes to her heartbreaking portrayal of young slave Patsey versus Jennifer’s work as suburban housewife Rosalyn Rosenfeld (many critics believe she was way too young for the role), the 31-year-old newcomer is biggest scene-stealer. She proves herself to be well-deserving of this year’s Critics’ Choice and the SAG awards.
But according to Marlow Stern, entertainment editor and writer for The Daily Beast, she may not win the Oscar because the Academy is comprised of old white men who “tend to vote for older men and younger (white) women in the acting categories.”
“It seems like Hollywood has plenty of roles for the Angelina Jolie’s and Tilda Swinton’s of the world, but has trouble placing actresses like Mo’Nique (who won in 2010 for Precious) and Jennifer Hudson (2007 winner for Dreamgirls),” Stern details. “If Jennifer Lawrence wins, which I suspect she will, it will once again be attributed to the allegedly pervy nature of the old, white guy Oscar voters—the ones who have overwhelmingly showered Hollywood’s young, hot, and preferably blonde starlets with Oscar trophies over the past few decades.”
There’s a dearth of roles for black actors—both male and female—in Hollywood, which is, in 2014, unforgivable and needs to be addressed. Now, these past examples shouldn’t hurt Nyong’o’s chances, but they might, and that’s ridiculous. The sad reality is, even though the Academy has a black female president, most of its membership is comprised of old white men, and old white men tend to vote for older men and younger (white) women in the acting categories. I think the Academy will ultimately go with Lawrence because they’re dinosaurs, and because everyone loves Jennifer Lawrence, who can really do no wrong.
This is the tightest race among the acting nominees. Will Lupita’s big screen debut be enough to beat America’s sweetheart? Watch the young talents go head-to-head live on ABC at 7 p.m. EST tonight, and tell us your prediction below.
Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
June Squibb, Nebraska
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1. Diversity At The 2014 Academy Awards?
The Oscars will air this weekend (March 2) and this year The Academy claims that they have included a "tremendous diversity of stars to represent." While cast and crew of "12 Years A Slave," actor Barkhad Abdi ("Captain Phillips") and Pharrell account for the black nominees, a few more of our favorite Black stars will be presenting (10 out of 46 to be exact). See the stars that will hold it down on Oscars night.
2. Gabourey Sidibe
Gabourey was nominated for Best Actress in "Precious," and even though she isn't nominated for anything this year, we know she's definitely an Oscar favorite.
3. Jamie Foxx
Jamie Foxx won Best Actor for his unforgettable role as Ray Charles in "Ray," and we can't wait to see him grace the Oscars stage again. Jamie is also known to pull a few jokes when he's up there; it should be interesting.
4. Kerry Washington
Ms. Washington has a few other awards under her belt, but hasn't received an Oscar nomination just yet. We're going to need that to change soon, but we love that she'll be on the stage. What's Kerry going to wear?
5. Michael B. Jordan
Michael may be the new kid on the block, without any nominations (we're still sad "Fruitvale Station" got no love this year) but being assigned as a presenter for your first breakout year isn't bad.
6. Samuel L. Jackson
The actor was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for "Pulp Fiction," but will grace the Academy Award stage to present to other nominees.
7. Sidney Poitier
Mr. Poitier is the first African American to ever win an Oscar for Best Actor in 1963 and is a legend within Hollywood. In 2002, he won an Honorary Oscar for "his extraordinary performances and unique presence on the screen and for representing the industry with dignity, style and intelligence." We couldn't agree more.
8. Tyler Perry
The film and television mogul has never been nominated for an Oscar, but we wouldn't be surprised if a nomination is in his near future.
9. Viola Davis
Viola has been nominated for two Oscars, Best Supporting Actress for "Doubt" and Best Actress for "The Help," but the thespian will be presenting at the pivotal ceremony this year.
10. Whoopi Goldberg
Although we know Ms. Goldberg now as having a gift for gab on "The View," she also made history as one of the few entertainers who have an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award. Whoopi is also the first African American to receive Oscar nominations for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress.
11. Will Smith
Will Smith isn't new to the Oscar game. He's been nominated for two Academy Awards, both for Best Actor in a Leading Role. He'll be taking the reins this year as one of the presenters.