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An Oscars ceremony with a Boston connection

Tanya Hart
An Oscars ceremony with a Boston connection
Da’Vine Joy Randolph won an Oscar for her performance in “The Holdovers.” PHOTO: RAPH_PH

The 96th Academy Awards Ceremony hosted by Jimmy Kimmel had upsets and surprises, but Boston was in the mix.

Tanya Hart at the Oscars COURTESY PHOTO

Da’Vine Joy Randolph hit the Oscars winners circle for her poignant performance in “The Holdovers” as Mary Lamb, the head cook at an elite New England boarding school. The honor added to her streak that so far has included a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild Award and an Indie Spirit Award. After taking home the Oscar on Sunday, her trophy count for the season is somewhere around 57!

Randolph’s character Mary Lamb has deep roots in Roxbury, one of the film’s locations. When I mentioned to Randolph that I was living in Roxbury during the 70’s when this film was set, she was delighted! I asked her what moment stands out when she thinks about this incredible journey.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “I didn’t know if it was going to be a dog-eat-dog thing, if it would be really aggressive, and what has been so beautiful is having this relationship with people who are going through the same thing. I have made so many lifetime friends.”

Cord Jefferson accepted his first Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for the movie “American Fiction” Sunday and used it as an opportunity to plead for more risk-taking in Hollywood. “American Fiction” follows a Black writer from Boston — played by Jeffrey Wright — who is also a professor struggling in the publishing world and within his tumultuous family.

Based on the 2001 novel ”Erasure“ by Percival Everett, the main character Monk writes an outlandish satire of stereotypical “Black” books, only for it to be mistaken by the liberal elite for serious literature and published to both high sales and critical praise.

Cord Jefferson accepted his first
Academy Award for Best Adapted
Screenplay for the movie “American Fiction.” PHOTO: DENNIS GOCER

When Jefferson spoke to the press backstage, he gave props to Boston’s Black community.

“I wanted to depict a different kind of Boston than you usually see. I said no pictures of Fenway Park, no pictures of Duck Boats, I wanted to see Black people. There is a nod to Oak Bluffs, and a nod to the Black community that is thriving in that part of the world.”

We all knew Christopher Nolan’s ”Oppenheimer“ was going to clean up, which is what the atom bomb creator saga did with wins for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, for Cillian Murphy, and Best Supporting Actor, for Robert Downey Jr., among others.

In an awards season that became too close to call in the Best Actress category, it was a toss-up between Emma Stone for “Poor Things“ and Lily Gladstone for ”Killers of the Flower Moon,” with the win going to Stone. Most will agree Gladstone was robbed, and it was a missed opportunity for the Academy voters to finally honor Indigenous Americans who have been depicted as “less than” in American cinema for a hundred years.

I have to say that nine years after #OscarsSoWhite, this turned out to be a good year for Black folks. Danielle Brooks, Sterling K. Brown, Colman Domingo, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, and Jeffrey Wright all earned nods from the Academy for the first time. Musician Kris Bowers also won an Oscar for directing his documentary short the heartwarming “The Last Repair Shop.“

And yes, I had a ball on the Red Carpet at the 96th Academy Awards.

“American Fiction”, “The Holdovers”, Academy Awards, Cord Jefferson, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Oscars