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Isaiah Washington On African American Oscar Contenders: "It Doesn't Stray from the Formula"

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood October 25, 2013 at 5:50PM

'Blue Caprice' star Isaiah Washington on the current Oscar crop: "Killers and slaves, butlers and maids: it sounds like it’s going to be a great Oscar night for people."
Isaiah Washington in "Blue Caprice"
Isaiah Washington in "Blue Caprice"

If Isaiah Washington, 50, is harboring any Oscar ambitions for his well-reviewed role in the Sundance hit "Blue Caprice," which earned a Gotham Independent Film Award nomination and is in current release, he may have dive-bombed his chances via an incendiary Yahoo interview.

It may be that he holds no illusions about his prospects for this low-budget and timely thriller based on the 2002 Beltway sniper attacks. After all, Washington talked poignantly to NPR about the widely reported supposedly homophobic slur that cost him his three-year slot on "Grey’s Anatomy" six years ago. On Yahoo he shares his contentious view of probable Oscar contenders "12 Years a Slave" and "The Butler": 

"Killers and slaves, butlers and maids: it sounds like it’s going to be a great Oscar night for people... "That’s why I turned down 'Hustle and Flow.' Whoever said this role would possibly be nominated for an Oscar, like Morgan [Freeman] playing a pimp [in 'Street Smart']. Denzel [Washington] won for playing a slave crying one tear, and playing the most horrible human being that the world thought was the sexiest cop in 'Training Day.' It doesn't stray from the formula."

While he admires these performances, he told Yahoo:

"Octavia Spencer is known around the world as the woman who put feces in the pie. It goes on and on. And it goes right back to the first African American to win an Oscar in 1939: Hattie McDaniel for playing a maid in "Gone with the Wind...The narrative of slaves and butlers is interesting. I come from a family of domestics. My grandmother was a maid and a nanny. My father was a porter. The world has seen African Americans as slaves and maids and butlers."

This article is related to: Blue Caprice, Awards, Awards, Oscars, Awards Season Roundup

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.