Oscar Justice: Angela Bassett

Welcome to Oscar Justice, a new weekly feature at Ice Creams for Freaks.  It’s a simple concept: I give an Oscar to someone who rightfully deserved it, then I follow the repercussions down the line until I am satisfied.

This week on Oscar Justice: Angela Bassett in What’s Love Got to Do with It?


1993 Best Actress, What’s Love Got to Do with It? – Lost to Holly Hunter, The Piano


It’s wild to think Angela Bassett was ever unknown, but the early 90s were a strange time.  Following a string of television roles in the 80s, Bassett memorably appeared briefly in Boyz in the Hood and played the title character’s wife in Malcolm X.  The star-vehicle of her lifetime came in 1993 with the Tina Turner biopic What’s Love Got to Do with It?Portraying the legendary singer and her tumultuous relationship with partner and husband Ike Turner, Bassett exploded off the screen and into our hearts.  Evolving past basic mimicry, Bassett won loads of critics prizes and propelled the film to earn 4x its modest budget.  Bassett won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy/Musical and earned her first (and painfully only) Oscar nomination.

On Oscar night, Bassett was ready to be crowned, but was overtaken by the momentum of Jane Campion’s The Piano.  Already the winner of two Oscars that night, the film picked up a third for lead actress Holly Hunter.

Despite being a legend, earning seven Emmy nominations and being a stone-cold fox, Bassett has yet to be nominated for another Oscar.


Angela Bassett defeats Holly Hunter at the 1993 Oscars for Best Actress in a Leading Role.


Let me preface all of this by stating: I love The Piano and I love Holly Hunter’s performance.  This is not about how Holly Hunter didn’t deserve an Oscar.  This is about the injustice of Angela Bassett having a sole Oscar nomination for this performance and coming up empty-handed.

There are no other opportunities for Bassett to win an Oscar (as of yet) and I am not about to live in a world where that can stand. 


Holly Hunter has had other opportunities to win an Oscar.  I desperately wanted to give her an Oscar for her perfect performance in Broadcast News in 1987, but if she wins there, then I have to take away the Cherin Moonstruck Oscar.  If I did that, I would have to give Cher an Oscar for Silkwood, which means I would take an Oscar from Peggy Ashcroft, which I was not willing to do.  Adversely, I could have left Cher or Hunter Oscar-less, which I won’t be doing.

Hunter was nominated twice more, including being nominated in Best Supporting Actress in 1993 for The Firm.  Her on-screen daughter, Anna Paquin, triumphed in that category and I want to let that stand.  She received her most recent nomination in 2003 as the embattled mother of a rebellious teenager in Thirteen

Hunter gets the nod in 2003 because few Oscar-winning performances have baffled me more than Renee Zellweger in Cold Mountain.  Broad, brassy and with the subtlety of a herd of buffalo, Zellweger rampaged through award season without a blemish against her.  Without an Oscar to her credit in 2003, Hunter gets the statue.  Zellweger won last year for Judy, so she still has her award (for now…).


Angela Bassett wins Best Actress in 1993 over Holly Hunter
Holly Hunter wins Best Supporting Actress in 2003 over Renee Zellweger

All Oscar Justice category fixes

Next time on Oscar Justice…Paul Newman still has to wait until the 80s for his Oscar, which sends shock waves among a trio of British actors.

One comment

  1. Angela Bassett deserved a win for this performance!

    Renee Zellweger has never deserved a nomination for either of her wins. The only nomination she deserved was for Chicago – based entirely on the role itself and not the performance.


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