Tyler Perry, Oscar nominee?

Posted by · 2:39 am · August 29th, 2010

One thing I like about David Poland as an awards analyst is that he often makes an effort to expand the tight circle of contenders by bringing little-buzzed names into the conversation. Needless to say, this kind of punditry can lead to a lot of dead ends, but every now and then he lands on a genuine sleeper — which is why this casual aside in his Friday box-office column caught my eye:

Of the current 16 [Lionsgate] $20m domestic openers, 7 are Tyler Perry (which is why For Colored Girls… is a lock to end up in this year’s Oscar race come December)…

In case it hasn’t been on your radar, he’s talking about “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf,” Perry’s filmization of Ntozake Shange’s landmark 1975 stage study of the African-American female experience. The play, a poetry-based piece taking on issues of abuse, rape, abortion and eventual empowerment, is pretty strong medicine; it’s difficult to imagine how it might work on film, and how it’ll mesh with Perry’s brash creative sensibility.

Obviously, the built-in audience for the film is substantial, though for many awards voters, it’s a niche item. Poland is obviously expecting the film to follow in the footsteps of “Precious,” arguably a daughter of sorts to Shange’s work, which broke down Oscar’s usual resistance to African-American-oriented material — and which, of course, bore Perry’s name as executive producer, raising his profile amongst Academy types.

Still, “Precious” entered the race on a wave of festival-acquired respectability; it’s doubtful whether voters would have sought it out without the prior approval of Sundance, Cannes and Toronto. “For Colored Girls…” will have no such advantage — indeed, the film is currently scheduled as a January 2011 release, though Poland asserts that it’s “99.9% sure” to be yanked forward into this year’s race.

I’m sceptical, but interested. For one thing, the film’s vast female ensemble includes Whoopi Goldberg, Thandie Newton, Kerry Washington, Janet Jackson, Phylicia Rashad, Anika Noni Rose, Kimberly Elise, Loretta Devine and Macy Gray, and any film that offers us the remote possibility of seeing the last-named lady on the red carpet has my full support.

Meanwhile, Perry’s stock is rising across the pond too: next week, “Why Did I Get Married Too?” will become his first film to get a theatrical release in the UK.

What say you? Has “For Colored Girls…” been on your radar? Is Poland off his rocker, or genuinely onto something?

[Photo: Black Voices]




→ 35 Comments Tags: , , , , | Filed in: Daily

35 responses so far

  • 1 8-29-2010 at 3:29 am

    Cal said...

    Well, it has a great cast! Maybe their prestige, and the recent profile of the subject matter (i.e. Precious) can help it to become somewhat of a viable contender. If it’s half-decent I can see it grabbing ballot spots — especially given the ten-wide field.

    A December release is a bit iffy though? From a UK position Tyler Perry doesn’t seem to be that much of a talking point over there, however much his films make? (Am I right in thinking that ranges from satisfactory – good dosh?).

    That title though… dear me. Surely they’d change it to “For Colored Girls”, or something a little easier to digest? Unless of course the novel is that famous that they can get away with it anyway…

  • 2 8-29-2010 at 3:43 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    The play is pretty famous. I’m sure “For Colored Girls…” will be the standard abbreviation — after all, nobody last year actually went around saying “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” in everyday conversation.

  • 3 8-29-2010 at 3:59 am

    Glenn said...

    It was on my radar for sure due to that amazing cast. I actually did think that maybe this would snag Perry a writing nomination just so they can reward him for making Hollywood so much money, but then noticed it was only being released in January so kinda just forgot about that possibility.

    But, yes, that cast. Whoa.

  • 4 8-29-2010 at 4:09 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Actually, Perry isn’t on screenplay duty for this one. (A good sign?)

  • 5 8-29-2010 at 5:15 am

    Zack said...

    I think if there’s one thing Mo’nique’s success taught me it’s that anyone with any resume can be nominated or win if they impress enough. I’m sure as hell not going to say he’s got no chance. (Although incidentally, is he already technically a nominee for his producer credit on “Precious”?)

  • 6 8-29-2010 at 5:17 am

    Glenn said...

    There’s no such thing as “technically” a nominee. Executive producers don’t get nominated.

    If he’s not on writing duties then Perry won’t be getting nominated, but if the film is a suitable maturing, then maybe something.

  • 7 8-29-2010 at 5:55 am

    Zack said...

    Sorry, I didn’t know.

  • 8 8-29-2010 at 6:09 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    It was a fair question, Zack. But since Perry, like Oprah Winfrey, only came on board once filming was completed — and therefore wasn’t involved in the film’s actual production — he wasn’t Oscar-eligible.

  • 9 8-29-2010 at 7:05 am

    jen said...

    I fear there will be male-bashing in this one… and more specifically Black man-bashing. Which I don’t think they need… I don’t know the play, but I hope it’s not overly feminist.

  • 10 8-29-2010 at 7:05 am

    the other mike said...

    this film has no chance of Oscar consideration. Tyler Perry? I have respect 4 him 4 having his own studio etc, thats kingpin status, but is he a good director? are his movies any good? I am glad there are Tyler Perrys out there but we havent been given evidence that he is capable of high art and the academy would only do this to spite Spike Lee who has problems with Perry.

  • 11 8-29-2010 at 7:41 am

    James D. said...

    I have never seen any of Perry’s films, but it can’t be as bad as The Blind Side, so good luck to him.

  • 12 8-29-2010 at 7:50 am

    Andrew M said...

    @James D. Trust me, most, if not all, of Perry’s films are worse then The Blind Side. I don’t know about this one though.

  • 13 8-29-2010 at 7:53 am

    Duncan Houst said...

    A Tyler Perry film? Win an Oscar? I’m going to say right now that that will never happen, and then hope that it doesn’t.

  • 14 8-29-2010 at 8:10 am

    sosgemini said...

    I think you all are missing the mark here. It’s not Perry who will be considered for nomination but one or two of the actresses. Each year more and more blacks are being added to the actors branch and with few exceptions, someone of African descent has landed in the acting category. How else does one explain Ruby Dee’s nomination if not for a black actor voting block?

    Unless another movie comes around with a stellar performance, I don’t think it’s a stretch for one of the actresses to walk away with a nomination. Anyone know which role in the play is considered the meatiest?

  • 15 8-29-2010 at 8:37 am

    Hans said...

    I definitely appreciate attempts at thinking outside the Oscarbait box, if only for the off-chance that some Academy voters might actually read and be motivated to check out a film they otherwise might not have.

    (With that in mind, Scott Pilgrim!)

  • 16 8-29-2010 at 8:42 am

    Ibad said...

    Ruby Dee’s nomination was not just because of a black voting block. She clearly had enough support outside of that to win the SAG.

  • 17 8-29-2010 at 8:59 am

    sosgemini said...

    Of course she did—she’s a legend. However, was anyone thinking about her as a serious Oscar contender before nominations? Replace Dee with Ellen Burstyn and do you really think Burstyn would have been nominated?

    And SAG had previously shown how much love they have for Dee by giving her their lifetime award (along with Ozzie) a few years back.

    I’d say the black voting block is a growing niche within the academy. One day, it might be just as influential as the holocaust voting block. :-D~

  • 18 8-29-2010 at 9:19 am

    Andrew F said...

    This seems like the kind of film a “Best Ensemble” category would be tailor-made for.

  • 19 8-29-2010 at 10:43 am

    Marc R. said...

    I gotta say, when i saw the title of this topic i thought you were joking and even after reading it i refuse to believe that Perry has become a better director in the time between his last film and this one. He’s had good casts before and gone no where with them (Family that preys)

  • 20 8-29-2010 at 10:51 am

    Paul Outlaw said...

    This film has been on my radar from the beginning because of the original play and a personal connection to its creators. I’ve never considered Perry remotely a match for the material and I’ve remained skeptical, despite the terrific cast and positive reports from the set. I agree with those posters above who suggest keeping an eye on Best Supporting Actress and forgetting about anything else—with the possible exception of Best Adapted Screenplay. Sound familiar? (See Precious.)

  • 21 8-29-2010 at 11:11 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    For all I know, Perry is a disastrous match for the material. But I have one question for the people writing the film off on the basis of his previous work: Have you seen Lee Daniels’s first film?

  • 22 8-29-2010 at 12:58 pm

    Melissa said...

    There is no one role that is the meatiest. The play is a bunch of monologues, so I don’t know how that will work on film.

  • 23 8-29-2010 at 2:28 pm

    Marc R. said...

    Guy

    While Lee Daniels only improved, Perry just stays the same, dealing in the same stereotypes and melodrama. He has yet to portray an African-American family realistically. I find it almost funny that we can get a normal lesbian family going through life while black people get stuff like Precious. Then later, to drive home the idea of how in need black people are, we get Blind Side. I despise Perry because he is certain that his ridiculous form of comedy can be excused because of his “wonderful exploration of family themes.” It’s like a skit from Dave Chappell only earnest and sincere. So sure the film has potential, but i’m not optimistic, in the same way that i’m not optimistic about the next M. Night Shyamalan film.

  • 24 8-29-2010 at 2:40 pm

    Joe said...

    I think people are harsh on Tyler Perry. Of course, I’d lose all crediblity if I admitted that I liked some Tyler Perry films.
    For the record, i would have no problem with Tyler Perry, Oscar Nominee. For one thing, he should have been nominated for Precious; no matter how involved they were with the actual production, the fact is that Precious would have gone nowhere without Oprah and Perry promoting it. For another thing, I actually would have nominated him for The Family That Preys.

  • 25 8-29-2010 at 3:13 pm

    Tye-Grr said...

    @Joe- That makes zero sense. ‘Precious’ was a done deal BEFORE Perry and Oprah came aboard, and yes they helped promote the shit out of it, but that doesn’t warrant them an Oscar nomination when they weren’t actually involved in the making of the film AT ALL. Just sayin’…

    I personally don’t care for Perry’s films, but that doesn’t mean he won’t write or direct something really great in the future.

    As for “For Colored Girls…”, I can see possible acting nominations, and a SAG Ensemble nomination for sure. That is quite the cast.

  • 26 8-29-2010 at 3:45 pm

    /3rtfu11 said...

    Three actresses have done elevated work in his films – Taraji P Henson in I Can Do Bad By Myself (2009); Alfre Woodard in The Family That Preys (2008); and Lynn Whitfield in arguably the worst feature on this very short list Madea’s Family Reunion (2006)

    Lee Daniels aims to shock. Tyler Perry aims to entertain a black audience who simply want to see themselves on screen – usually in over the top mellow drama / love story format.

  • 27 8-29-2010 at 8:51 pm

    Paul Outlaw said...

    Guy, Daniels’ Shadowboxer is a guilty pleasure (that I don’t feel very guilty about actually), and a much more interesting project than almost any of Perry’s films.

    Still, I’m not writing For Colored Girls off; I think it can be worth seeing despite its director. I’m just not expecting a transcendent filmgoing experience.

  • 28 8-29-2010 at 8:56 pm

    David Poland said...

    Uh, guys… just want to point out… I didn’t say it was a sure nominee… I said it was joining the race.

    I won’t have an opinion about the potential for nominations until I see the film.

    But a mid-Jan release moved up in limited/exclusive by 3 weeks shouldn’t surprise anyone, much less shock them.

    And just want to note about Oprah and Perry and Precious. The film wasn’t even sold until they came on board. I don’t think they deserved nominations in a category limited to 3 producers. But the movie would not have been a serious contender without them… with due respect to the film. It would have been 50/50 to even get a serious release.

  • 29 8-29-2010 at 9:52 pm

    Xavi Rodriguez said...

    Never say never, especially after this last decade of surprising records:

    -In 1997, Who would thinking that the lead actress of terrible films like The Next Karate Kid or Sometimes They Come Back… Again and her only good work was a role in Beverly Hill 90210 is now a two-times Academy Award Winner?
    -Or only two years ago after the end of Charm School, Mo’Nique will return with -maybe- the best supporting actress performance of the decade
    -Or how the tenth loser of a third season of American Idol 3 is now an Oscar winner for her debut?
    -Or rap singers will become Oscar nominees? Well Will Smith and Queen Latifah did it.

    This decade we have actors with strange or even awful decisions and still manage Oscar nominations or wins:

    -Amy Adams: Cruel Intentions 2
    -Terrence Howard: Glitter
    -Thomas Haden Church: George of the Jungle 2
    -Adriana Barraza: Just known for mexican soap operas.
    -Mickey Rourke & Marisa Tomei: A career full of bad decisions by the 90s.

    So perry would surprise us. I partially agree with sosgemini. Without that reason, I don’t understand how Dee got that Oscar nomination for that performance. If the AMPAS needs a veteran why not Vanessa Redgrave with a better performance or Tabu -Veteran for her Bollywood career-?

  • 30 8-29-2010 at 9:59 pm

    Kevin K. said...

    I studied the play in college. It’s riveting, challenging stuff. I’m not sure how it would work as a film, it’s very abstract, new age theatre, not much of a narrative, more of a study on these things. Perry seems to be trying to reinvent himself lately, but if his last effort into serious-ish drama “I Can Do Bad All By Myself” is any indication on how that’s going, the future isn’t looking bright. The play is kind of like a more abstract, sociological version of “Precious” but that film had the benefit of being based on material with an actual narrative to go on. At this point, until reviews come in, there’s no way to really know how this will turn out. It’s a great opportunity, but Perry fails to deliver the goods pretty much every single time he gets behind the camera. We shall see. Color me intrigued.

  • 31 8-30-2010 at 4:58 am

    John said...

    The only thing I could see coming out of this is a supporting nomination for Whoopi-she’s likely still personally popular in the Academy, and hasn’t been in the race for 20 years, and they love a comeback, even if it’s from a woman who has a very successful television gig and is still a universally known figure even if she hasn’t made a film that people have seen in over 15 years.

  • 32 8-30-2010 at 8:49 am

    Paul Outlaw said...

    @ Kevin K: The adaptation is a real departure from the play. There are lots of additional (male) characters, for starters.

  • 33 8-30-2010 at 4:00 pm

    sosgemini said...

    @John. 15 years? Damn! poor Whoopi, say what you will about her as a celebrity and tv personality but the lady has acting talent. Such a shame she is so underused by the industry.

    I’d also love to see Rashad get some Oscar heat. She could join Shirley Jones and Donna Reed in the TV Moms who rock Oscars category. Poor Mary Tyler Moore, so close…but no cigar.

  • 34 9-01-2010 at 1:48 pm

    troy said...

    Highly anticipating this movie. Love me some JAnet JAckson. The rest of these ladies are also super talented. I want this movie to be a huge hit. Janet, record a song for this movie or let them use “What About?” from your Vevet Rope album. It deals with domestic violence.

  • 35 12-23-2010 at 11:50 am

    lottydah said...

    It should be nominated. The movie is strong and beautiful, AND harsh. It demands our attention whether we like it or not. I liked it very much because of its honesty and sheer beauty of the cast. It is eye candy and delivers a sincere message that the poetry conveys. Perry’s interpretation is for those, like me, who do not like poetry. I prefer a story line and the dialogue. Excellent movie.