Monday’s Oscar nominations broadcast drew a lot of attention for snubbing female directors, including Greta Gerwig for Little Women, but there were countless other omissions that drew attention. Like the actors from Parasite and Us, along with Jennifer Lopez in Hustlers. Oh yes, and Eddie Murphy for his best role in many years, Netflix’s Dolemite Is My Name. Our own Vince Mancini wrote, “Eddie Murphy had been doing bad comedy or mediocre prestige these past few years, and I think he finally found his gear in comedic prestige.”
Well, 2020 is not Murphy’s year for Academy recognition (although he was recognized by the Globes, at least). Murphy sort-of predicted this would be the case long ago, when he used his presentation time for the 1988 Best Picture award to highlight the lack of diversity in Oscar nominations and wins. His time onstage (which you can watch above) is now receiving renewed attention on Twitter, and for solid reason. Murphy candidly told his audience that he hesitated to appear that night “because they haven’t recognized Black people in the motion picture industry,” and he added that, “I’ll never win an Oscar for saying this.” Here’s more:
“My manager said, ‘You just have to go. You can’t snub the Academy.’ So I came down here to give the award, but I just feel that we have to be recognized as a people. I just want you to know I am going to give this award, but black people will not ride the caboose of society and we will not bring up the rear anymore and I want you to recognize us.”
The time was the late 1980s, which is about the same time Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman received their first Oscar nominations. As for Murphy, he didn’t earn a nod until 2007 with Dreamgirls, although he didn’t take home the gold. About a month ago, Murphy revisited this speech himself with CBS Sunday Morning prior to his SNL hosting gig. The comedian reflected upon how “[t]here was no mention of [these remarks] in the papers … not a blip … and there were no pictures of me at the Oscars.” This was, of course, long before the days of the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag.
However, Murphy did pick up the Lifetime Achievement Award at Sunday’s Critics’ Choice awards, even if the Academy’s not a fan of Dolemite. Not even a Costume Design or Production Design nomination? Yep.