Its Time to Take Tiffany Haddish Seriously as an Oscar Contender

The Tiffany Haddish moment is real.

After the success of Girls Trip this summer, online fans (and some critics) began to push Haddish for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominationa Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny moment, if you will. Itd be an anomaly because the Oscars rarely respect comedic performances, but Haddish is so great in Girls Trip that it seemed like it could be a thing. Now, it actually is a thing thanks to her win at the the New York Film Critics Circle Awards for Best Supporting Actress.

Yes, Haddish is officially in the awards season game and were all the better for it.

Haddishs competition was steepthe current Oscar frontrunners are most certainly Laurie Metcalf in Lady Bird and Allison Janney in I, Tonya, with a few dark horses like Holly Hunter in The Big Sick. While theres been some discussion of Mary J. Blige garnering a nomination for Mudbound, Octavia Spencer for The Shape of Water, or Hong Chau for Downsizing, theres no denying that most of the categories this season are completely devoid of non-white competitors. Unless Denzel Washington (Roman J. Israel, Esq.) or Idris Elba (Mollys Game) pull in surprise nominations in the acting categories, you can probably expect that the sole person of color leading the conversation this year will be Haddish.

Once again, we seem to be heading toward an #OscarsSoWhite situation, where Haddishs chances are increased by the blinding whiteness of her competitorswhich isnt to say shes not worthy of a win. Everyone pulling for her since seeing Girls Trip, a film she absolutely dominates, is not wrong to want a win for her. But now shes the Obi-Wan Kenobi of non-white nominees: she may be our only hope.

Jordan Peeles Get Out won Best First Film at the NYFCC Awards, but its chances for breaking into the actual Oscars are still up in the air. It will certainly get a nomination at the Golden Globes, thanks to its entry in Best Comedy/Musical (which Im fine with because its a satire, but thats an exhausting discussion for another time), so hopefully that bolsters its Oscars chances. Then theres Mudbound, which took home Best Cinematography at the NYFCC Awardsand no no other wins for Dee Rees arresting, extremely important film.

Its a year where being outside the parameters of Oscar bait might prove an awards burden for non-white artists this year. Rees made a film that deals heavily with Americas racial sins, but its not a slavery movie and its also being distributed by Netflix. If it werent a Netflix filmthat is, streaming onlineit might be in higher contention for many of the awards it no doubt deserves, but as of now, the film is operating on the fringes. The same can be said for Get Out, which is garnering some attention but is also a satire and a horror film. Very few horror films gain awards recognition, unless theyre prestige offerings like Jonathan Demmes The Silence of the Lambs.

Which is why Haddish is the safer bet this awards season. Yes, comedic performances are typically under-recognized, but they can on occasion break through (see: Melissa McCarthy for Bridesmaids), and Haddish deserves every bit of the attention shes garnering for this performance. Its also a reminder that non-traditional performances like this can be championed by critics in order to push awards voters who might otherwise ignore something because it doesnt seem like their type of film. Haddishs profile has been raised by appearances on Saturday Night Live, but has she actually been invited into the inner circle?

Once again, its noteworthy that the awards roundtable of actresses featured in a recent issue of The Hollywood Reporter were all whitesave for Mary J. Blige. Because how do you not include Queen Mary on a cover when she turns it out for Oscar season? Her inclusion, however, seems like it was done for the novelty of it, rather than an actual desire to push non-white actresses to the forefront. Haddish shouldve earned a place on the cover alongside Mary, but instead the R&B diva was featured with Janney, Saoirse Ronan, Jennifer Lawrence, Jessica Chastain, and Emma Stone. Ronan is getting plenty of awards attention for Lady Bird, but lets be honest: Lawrence in Mother!, Chastain in Mollys Game, and Stone in Battle of the Sexes havent really been part of the conversation (until that THR cover, that is.)

At a certain point, we need to look at how the media drives awards consideration and the kind of actresses we laud as important. Much like how political coverage can drive a non-candidate into becoming President of the United States, entertainment media has much more power than it acknowledges when it comes to who gets attention in Hollywood, from roles to awards. Haddish already has two studio films lined up and a NYFCC win as Best Supporting Actress. Can we take her seriously now, please?

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