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Mary J. Blige (#110 of 4)

Oscar 2018 Winner Predictions Supporting Actress

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Oscar 2018 Winner Predictions: Supporting Actress

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Oscar 2018 Winner Predictions: Supporting Actress

Admit it, you saw this coming. Even if you didn’t read last week how Eric and I only allow ourselves to take so many risks during Slant’s 24-day Oscar-prediction cycle, you probably noticed how long it was taking us to get around to this category. And this call we’re making is certainly a risk: After all, Allison Janney—like Gary Oldman, Frances McDormand, and Sam Rockwell—will arrive at the Kodak Theatre on Sunday with a Golden Globe, SAG, and BAFTA award under her belt (or attached to the bird on her shoulder). But don’t call it wishful thinking, as the tea leaves tell us that this is a more unpredictable Oscar race than most people are perhaps willing to admit.

Oscar Prospects: The Help

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Oscar Prospects: The Help
Oscar Prospects: The Help

The Help represents a pitiful lack of progress, and that’s hardly an indictment of the ways its characters and events are depicted on screen. This is an affable, predominantly inoffensive bit of goes-down-easy middlebrow fare, whose crimes are mainly those of uninspired screenwriting technique (underwritten roles, conveniently sidestepped conflicts). Yet, the film’s inherent iconography incited a storm of knee-jerk disgust from cynics and ax-grinders, who took to Twitter with a litany of rants about Mammies, magical negroes and fried chicken. A counterattack of support for the film soon followed. The subject of race in the movies will always get people talking, but that this minimally provocative mainstream fluff was met with such exhaustive, tempestuous discourse feels culturally puerile, like tamed dogs fending off wolves on the hunt for the next Birth of a Nation. Now, the discussion of a movie that might have just as well come and gone with the rest of August’s releases has spilled over into the Oscar race, an arena in which there is, in fact, discussion to be had.

If people are looking for something to complain about, a better target would be the preposterously thriving Oscar whiteout, which last year led to the favoring of grotesque turns from Christian Bale and Melissa Leo over every incredible performance in For Colored Girls. This year, the only two black performers poised to be honored with nominations are those who play maids, a fact that’s far more contemptible than anything Tate Taylor presents in The Help. And the meager nomination tally won’t merely be a fault of the Academy, either, as there certainly wasn’t a wealth of baity work available for people of color this year, a year in which the only high-profile part that recent Oscar nominee Gabourey Sidibe can boast is, yes, a maid—in a Brett Ratner movie.

2007 Grammy Awards Winner Predictions

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2007 Grammy Awards: Winner Predictions
2007 Grammy Awards: Winner Predictions

RECORD OF THE YEAR
“Be Without You,” Mary J. Blige
“You’re Beautiful,” James Blunt
“Not Ready To Make Nice,” Dixie Chicks
“Crazy,” Gnarls Barkley (Will Win)
“Put Your Records On,” Corinne Bailey Rae

Sal Cinquemani: Is there a general consensus in the industry that Mary J. Blige is owed something?
Jonathan Keefe: As though performing on the American Idol finale with that kid People profiled for getting dental veneers (Elliott, lest any of the “Yaminions” send me hate-mail) isn’t its own reward.
Eric Henderson: It plays out like so many other music stories: she starts getting props just for hanging around long enough for her music to be vapid and middlebrow.
Sal: “Crazy” is getting lots of AC attention, which means it’s reached critical mass-acceptance in the heartland. It’s crossed over in a big way.
Eric: Yeah, with the Closet Freak himself singing falsetto and Danger Mouse producing, “Crazy” is simultaneously as cutting edge and as Downy soft as you want it to be. Demographically speaking, it’s practically schizo in its appeal. Dixie Chicks are the only potential spoilers, if momentum snowballs their way.
Jonathan: “Crazy” does what “Hey Ya!,” “Crazy In Love,” and “Work It” before it couldn’t, becoming the first crossover pop single that owes a substantial debt to hip-hop to win Record of the Year. Had anything Timbaland produced been nominated, there would’ve been another one of the vote-splits that have allowed “Clocks,” “Boulevard Of Broken Dreams,” and that comatose Ray Charles/Norah Jones duet to win the last three years. This time, it’s the limp AC tracks—which fully covers both Blige and Dixie Chicks, conveniently enough—that split the votes, to the benefit of what happens to be the best “record” of the lot.
Eric: Did they nominate this instantly forgettable Corinne Bailey Rae tune because it validates the category’s title, when it would make more sense today to switch it to “Single of the Year” or “Track of the Year”?