Source: The Guardian
Mahershala Ali has won the Oscar for best supporting actor for his role as Don Shirley in Green Book in the 91st Academy Awards.
This is Ali’s second Oscar win, after he took the award in the same category in 2017 for Moonlight, becoming the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar. He is now the first black actor – and Muslim – to win the best supporting actor twice. Denzel Actor is the only other black actor to win an Oscar more than once.
This year Ali triumphed over a field that included Adam Driver as a cop in Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman, Sam Rockwell as George W Bush in Vice, and Richard E Grant as drug dealer Jack Hock in Can You Ever Forgive Me? Ali was the strong favourite for the prize, having won all the major best supporting actor awards this year, including the Bafta, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards.
In Green Book, pianist Don Shirley (Ali) hires Italian American hoodlum Tony Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) as a driver and bodyguard on a concert tour in the deep south in the pre-civil rights early 1960s. The film’s title comes from the motoring handbook published to help African Americans avoid hostile areas while travelling around the US.
Despite winning a number of influential awards, including the audience award at the Toronto film festival, Green Book has drawn considerable criticism. Co-writer and producer Nick Vallelonga apologised after the rediscovery of an apparently anti-Muslim tweet, while director Peter Farrelly also apologised after accusations of serial sexual misconduct. The film’s portrayal of a close friendship between Vallelonga and Shirley was flatly denied by Shirley’s family in an interview with Shadow & Act, with Ali reportedly apologising to them, saying: “I did the best I could with the material I had.”