The Oscars nominations are severely lacking of diversity in all categories, especially when it comes to performances. There were several examples of extraordinary acting from women of color and they were underestimated this awards season.
There's a correlation between representation onscreen and how the world perceives women of color, and if this pattern of selectivity continues, then there'll be less room for change in film. To be seen as humans with autonomy in stories of triumph and depth is a necessity.
Awkwafina in "The Farewell" is a sensation, vulnerable and natural to a tee. She plays the role of a young Chinese-American woman who left China as a child and now identifies with two clashing cultures.
Moreover, she must balance between comedy and tragedy as her character knows her grandmother is dying but cannot show grief. Most of the scenes are entirely intimate, a bittersweet veil over her performance.
Already having won the Golden Globe for best actress, Awkwafina is deserving of more praise.
Fans of "Hustlers" thought for sure that Jennifer Lopez was a shoo-in for the best-supporting actress Oscar nomination. She stole the show as Ramona, a single mother working as a stripper turned con-woman.
Her performance ranged from physical challenges, like learning how to do difficult pole dance moves, to controlling and manipulating the people around her. Lopez perfected the persona of an anti-hero, a nurturing but selfish woman who is motivated to commit crimes for love. Alas, Lopez was robbed.
"Hustlers" was Constance Wu's vehicle, launching her career further as a film star after "Crazy Rich Asians". Wu plays Destiny, a young woman trying to make a living while supporting her frail grandmother as a stripper. Boosted by Lopez' Ramona, Wu goes through the arc of an insecure, neglected woman to a proud con-artist, then back to insecure but now disgraced single mother.
Wu's character experiences an existential and financial crisis that parallels the recession that made her desperate. Wu's snub hits the hardest.
A supposed early 2019 contender for an Oscar nomination, Lupita Nyong'o went to extremes in Jordan Peele's "Us". She literally played two different characters, one was a normal wife with a family while the other was a fantastical nightmare version of the first.
Nyong'o is already an Academy Award winner but it was for best-supporting actress in "12 Years a Slave". "Us" was her chance at the best actress win for a role that was not rooted in slavery or suffering.