A few weeks back, I noted that there are not many movies about slavery. Given that, though, the list of slavery films that have been real contenders come Academy Award season has been surprisingly large. Besides 12 Years a Slave, which won a Golden Globe for Best Picture of the Year (Drama) on Sunday night and yesterday received nine Oscar nominations including one for Best Picture, films recognized in major categories on Oscar night over the past 30 years include Glory, (1989, Best Supporting Actor award), Amistad (1998, Best Supporting Actor nomination), Lincoln (2012, Best Actor award), and Django Unchained (2012, Best Supporting Actor award, Best Original Screenplay award).
Despite the number of films, though, there’s a relative paucity of thematic range. All of these critically acclaimed films use variations on a single narrative: Black people are oppressed by bad white people. They achieve freedom through the offices of good white people. Happy ending.
Read more. [Image: Fox Searchlight Pictures; Walt Disney Studios; Weinstein Company]