Monday, March 08, 2010

Geoffrey Fletcher: The First Black Writer To Win An Academy Award

YEAH, I KNOW. The biggest headlines of the day are that a woman now holds an Academy Award for Best Director. And deservedly so. I was stunned to see her standing there with that gold thing in her hand. Kathyrn Bigelow, acclaimed director of The Hurt Locker broke that glass ceiling, defeating her ex-husband for the same award in the process, and took the statue from the hands of Barbra Streisand who many thought got snubbed for her work behind the camera in both Yentl and The Prince Of Tides. I'd say that was more true of the latter than the former.

But I digress.

Geoffrey Fletcher made history last night, too. And while Bigelow's award was stunning, Fletcher's award was downright shocking.

The 39-year-old New London, Connecticut, native was a surprise winner for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Conventional wisdom put the award in the hands of "Up In The Air" writers Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner who had won a Golden Globe for their work.

Fletcher wasn't even nominated for what has become an accurate precursor to the Oscars.

As Fletcher spoke, I moved to the front of my seat and realized that he looked familiar to me. More familiar than just a passing thought that I'd seen him somewhere before. Turns out he's the younger brother of Todd Fletcher, an a capella singer at Harvard when I attended, who's the younger brother of the renowned investment banker Alphonso "Buddy" Fletcher, Jr. I met the two younger brothers only once, which meant that I had actually shaken the hand of the man who would become the first Black writer to win an Academy Award.

One of those moments.

If only Spike Lee had been able to present him the award.

I didn't want a single frame of a single film nominated for a single award this year, but it was nice to watch so much history nonetheless.

And Mo'Nique was simply glorious. Paying tribute to Hattie McDaniel, the first Black woman to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Gone With The Wind 60 years ago, she delivered another emotional wallop of a speech. Mo'Nique even wore a royal blue dress and a flower in her hair, just as McDaniel did when she won. Mo'Nique who's performance as an abusive mother in Precious Based On The Novel Push by Sapphire was apparently so riveting, every single person who saw it quipped that if she didn't win an Oscar, they should just stop giving them out. She becomes the fifth Black woman to win an acting award. Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls), Halle Berry (Monsters Ball), the only Black woman to win Best Actress, and Whoopi Goldberg (Ghost) are the others.


John K said...

Hi Craig, I also had to jog my memory a bit when I saw Geoffrey on TV. Buddy was my classmate (1987), and I knew Todd and Geoffrey were only a few classes after that. (I think Todd was in Tim Benston's class, 1989; weren't you right around there or just after that, in '90 or '91?) Great blog, and keep up the excellent work!

(And most amazingly, Geoffrey's Oscar was for his first feature film screenplay!)

Craig Hickman said...

Hey John,

I was Class of '90. I think you're right about Todd. I think Geoffrey was '92.

I didn't realize it was his feature film screenwriting debut.

What a feat.

Isabel Walcott Draves said...

Craig, I stumbled upon your blog randomly and have been reading about your B&B and food stuff and just exploring. AMAZING. Another Milwaukee-Harvard kid with a happy fulfilling life. Nice to see you sharing it and your thoughts. Best wishes to you!