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Oscar's Black Odyssey
Oscar's Black Odyssey
Director: Obba Babatunde
Genres: Drama, African American Cinema
NR     2003     1hr 30min

This one-hour special program is filled with rare footage, photographs and long-lost trailers of performances in OscarŽ recognized films from "Gone With the Wind" to "Monster's Ball." The journey of "Oscar's Black Odyssey...  more »


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Movie Details

Director: Obba Babatunde
Creators: Fabian Cadena, Gary DeVore, Jose Bugarin, Richard Kashanski, Obba Babatunde, Michiko Byers, Dante J. Pugliese, Ruth Adkins Robinson
Genres: Drama, African American Cinema
Sub-Genres: Drama, African American Cinema
Format: DVD - Black and White,Color
DVD Release Date: 09/23/2003
Original Release Date: 01/01/2003
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2003
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 30min
Screens: Black and White,Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

Movie Reviews

It was a'ight, generally.
Jeffery Mingo | Homewood, IL USA | 11/20/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)

"This documentary touches upon a very troubling phenomenon on race and Hollywood. Pre-Civil Rights, African Americans fought for inclusion. Now, we are included, but rarely allowed to lead. Though the CBC is roughly as present in the U.S. House as Blacks are in the American population, their districts are usually carved Black-dominant. Rarely do you see the Barack Obamas and Governor Wilders that get to lead entire communities. Remember when Sports Illustrated decided that Tyra Banks could be on the cover of their swimsuit edition so long as a white blonde was there with her? They couldn't have her be the sole leader of the edition, under their oppressive logic. Notice that the Colin Powells (not that I admire him) of the country are usually appointed, not elected. Well, this documentary will likewise make you see how much Black thespian talent is underappreciated or not allowed to be the primary winners.

This was a history of Black Oscar nominees and winners. It starts with Hattie McDaniels' victory for "Gone with the Wind" and concludes to triumphant effect with the 2002 victories of Halle Berry and Denzel Washington. This was the cute type of documentary one would see on a Sunday or Saturday on ABC after a golf game, or something.

Obba Babatunde is interviewed OFTEN in this work. At the end, one finds out that he's the director. While some nominees have died, many are alive and I thought it was a bit shameful that they didn't volunteer to be interviewed for this work. Why couldn't Sidney Poitier, Diana Ross, or Whoopi Goldberg have contributed a few words to this project? Still, Monique gave an amazing interview, like always. Don't assume her status as a comedienne means she's not bright. In interviews, she always gets my mind spinning. That's a sharp, plus-sized sistah! The absence of A-list actors here disappointed me in the same way that Benicio del Toro's and Jennifer Lopez's absence from "The Bronze Screen" also disappointed me.

In all fairness, many of the interviewee have won or been nominated for Emmys, Obies, and Image Awards. So, amazing Black performances don't go underappreciated in other areas. Many of the interviewees said, "That actor should have won!" Yes, it is unfair that so few Black nominees win Oscars. Still, not all of them could have been excluded solely to race. I remember that folk were upset that "Sex, Lies, and Videotape" earned more praise than "Do Right the Thing." I too assumed it was racism until I actually learned how brilliant "SLV" was. One interviewee, DePasse earned a nomination for her screenplay of "Lady Sings the Blues." That movie was a complete butchering of Lady Day's life. If folk got upset about "A Beautiful Mind" while should "Lady Sings" get any praise? The point being, there are some loopholes in this film.

This film is not as critical as it could have been. They bring up that Washington and Berry won Oscars for potentially degrading roles. Still, they do not critique Cuba Gooding, Jr. or that brothah from "The Green Mile" in the way that Spike Lee did in "Bamboozled." This documentary is a bit of a feel-good work."