Forget those Oscar snubs: ‘The Woman King,’ ‘Till’ dominate Black Reel Awards

WTOP's Jason Fraley recaps the Black Reel Awards (Part 1)

The 23rd annual Black Reel Awards announced its winners in a livestream Monday night.

The top prize went to “The Woman King,” which also topped WTOP’s Best Movies of 2022.

It’s vindication for Viola Davis’ action war epic, which was snubbed by the Academy with zero Oscar nominations last month but is now getting its due at the Black Reel Awards.

“The Woman King” not only won the top prize of Outstanding Film, it also won Outstanding Director for Gina-Prince Bythewood. Best known for her sports romance “Love & Basketball” (2000), Bythewood added the thrill of diversity to good old-fashioned spectacle storytelling for the best war epic since “Braveheart” (1995) and “Gladiator” (2000).

Jeremy Pope won Outstanding Actor as a young, gay, Black man who is rejected by his mother and decides to join the Marines in “The Inspection.” Pope visited WTOP in 2018 when he starred in The Temptations musical “Ain’t Too Proud” at the Kennedy Center.

Danielle Deadwyler deservedly won Outstanding Actress for “Till” as the grieving mother of Emmett Till, who was infamously lynched in 1955. Deadwyler was also snubbed by the Oscars, despite a harrowing courtroom scene trying to bring the perpetrators to justice. WTOP spoke with 14-year-old Jalyn Hall back in October about working with Deadwyler.

Brian Tyree Henry won Outstanding Supporting Actor for “Causeway,” playing an auto mechanic traumatized by a family car accident as he bonds with Jennifer Lawrence’s U.S. Army veteran who suffered a traumatic brain injury fighting in the War in Afghanistan.

Angela Bassett won Outstanding Supporting Actress for Marvel’s “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” playing T’Challa’s grieving mother Ramonda trying to hold it together after the real-life death of Chadwick Boseman. Bassett is now widely considered the frontrunner to win her first Oscar, having lost previously for “What’s Love Got to Do With It” (1993).

Zoe Saldana won Outstanding Voice Performance for her motion-capture performance as the blue Na’vi heroine Neytiri in James Cameron’s blockbuster “Avatar: The Way of Water.”

Outstanding Emerging Director went to George Mason University film professor Nikyatu Jusu, who became just the second Black female filmmaker to win the Grand Jury Prize in the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the Sundance Film Festival for her horror flick “Nanny.”

Based in D.C., the Black Reel Awards were founded by Tim Gordon, president of the Washington Area Film Critics Association, to shine a light on filmmakers of color, who too often go unnoticed or overlooked by members of the Academy.

See all the winners here.

WTOP's Jason Fraley recaps the Black Reel Awards (Part 2)

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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