While the 2023 Academy Awards delivered heartwarming wins for actors like Ke Huy Quan, Michelle Yeoh, and Brendan Fraser, it came with some upsets as well. That was especially the case for Angela Bassett, who was long considered the frontrunner in the Best Supporting Actress race for her performance in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The award ultimately went to Everything Everywhere All at Once‘s Jamie Lee Curtis. With the camera on her as the winner was announced, Bassett looked visibly disappointed, as viewers pointed out (and she’s allowed to be!). Both comforting and frustrated reactions came pouring in online.
Curtis has had a fantastic year, and the Supporting Actress category was flush with talent: Stephanie Hsu (Everything Everywhere), Hong Chau (The Whale), and Kerry Condon (The Banshees of Inisherin) rounded out the nominees. But beyond the scope of this singular award, Bassett’s loss was a sore reminder that the Academy continues to overlook the contributions of Black women in cinema. Last night, 95 years into the Oscars’ history, marked the first time a Black woman won her second Academy Award (Wakanda Forever‘s costume designer Ruth E. Carter). Halle Berry remains the only Black woman to win Best Actress—more than 20 years ago. There were also disappointing instances before the ceremony, as Viola Davis and Danielle Deadwyler were snubbed from the Best Actress nominations (but got shoutouts in Jimmy Kimmel’s Oscar monologue as a consolation prize). That applies to directors too, as The Woman King‘s Gina Prince-Bythewood was not nominated in the Best Director category.
As for Bassett, believe it or not, the esteemed actress has never won an Oscar and was last nominated for 1993’s What’s Love Got to Do with It. She does, however, have two Golden Globes, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and seven Emmy nominations. Bassett, 64, has an exceptional repertoire (we see you, How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Vampire in Brooklyn) that we hope she only continues to add to. We can’t get to them all, but when it comes to her Oscar-worthy performances, let’s start with this handful of films.