Cynthia Erivo as Harriet and the *next* Best Actress Race
Wednesday, February 6, 2019 at 1:20PM
NATHANIEL R in Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Cynthia Erivo, Harriett, Oscars (19)

That was quick. There are only four spots left in the next Best Actress Oscar race.

We kid, we kid. Academy Award nomination races aren't sewn up half as quickly as the internet always pretends they are. Nevertheless it's hard to deny that on paper Cynthia Erivo playing Harriett Tubman (there's your first still above) reads just right for major Oscar attention.

There are so many ways in which this seems likely without seeing a single clip. Let us count them... 

  1. Erivo proved this past year that her stage chops and magnetic presence (Tony win for The Color Purple  in which she was quite awesome despite the enormous shadow of Whoopi Goldberg) transfer well to the movies (Widows, Bad Times at the El Royale) so chances are she wins strong reviews because she's gifted.
  2. Honestly who deserves a biopic more than Harriett Tubman? And even if the movie isn't good (we won't know for awhile) awards voters have a very difficult time discerning between important worthy topic and good film.
  3. Awards voters of most stripes (but especially Oscar voters) cannot get enough of biopic performances. They've never been able to shake this fetish. You don't even have to be particularly good to get nominated so long as you're playing a famous person and the film is either critically well received or audience popular.
  4. A strong / appealing supporting cast really helps leading ladies or leading men shine and she's got one: Joe Alwyn (♥︎), Janelle Monae (♥︎), Jennifer Nettles, and Leslie Odom Jr. 
  5. The movie has an African-American cowriter/director (Yay, Kasi Lemmons back to feature directing!) and several department heads of color (Oscar-nominated Terence Blanchard on score, and former Emmy players Warren Alan Young, Paul Tazewell, Angie Wells on production design and costumes and makeup, respectively*) so it won't get attacked for representation and optics which has proven a politic minefield for many movies of late.
  6. Viola Davis's competing Harriett Tubman project is not happening any time soon if at all. It's still on her roster but these things have a way of falling apart if another movie gets there first.

And while we're on this topic...

We JUST started looking at what's coming up this year for those April Foolish Oscar predictions so here's a list of actresses who have possibly noteworthy films coming this year. (This list is still in progress... there's so much research left to do but why not share it with you since you can always add to it in the comments)




* Yes, while I'm building each year's Oscar charts before they premiere in April, I am obsessively looking at below-the-line players as well when movies are announced. I'm terribly sad this year that Oscar has now deemed all these artist, who contribute so much to the movies, as lesser-than. It will only hurt the public perception of the art of filmmaking -- the very last thing the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences should ever want to do.


Article originally appeared on The Film Experience (
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