Okay, look. I won’t pretend to understand the complicated intricacies of awards season voting. I don’t! But it doesn’t really matter if I do. What matters is the fact that a film with generous critical acclaim, a strong box office performance, and a favorable audience reception can still find itself completely shut out of one of the biggest ceremonies for artistic achievement in film. “The Woman King” was doing fine leading up to the Oscar noms, keeping itself in the awards conversation with Critics Choice, Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations. But the Academy voters are either blissfully ignorant to all that the film had going for it, or willfully negligent in acknowledging it, because “The Woman King” came away with absolutely nothing when the Oscar nominations were announced.
Nothing for Davis, the star and producer who fought for six-plus years to prove that a film like this could get made, and could justify its existence in every way that matters. Nothing for its director, Gina Prince-Bythewood, whose work in the film all but proves she’s one of the strongest voices behind the camera these days. Nothing for its supporting cast, for Thuso Mbedu, for Lashana Lynch, for Sheila Atim or John Boyega (we really do need to bring a Best Ensemble category to the Oscars, by the way), who all but run away with the film in the best of ways. Nothing for costumes, nothing for makeup, nothing for sound. Given all that aforementioned praise, you can forgive me for being a little put off.