Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Dev Patel, 'Moana' song nominated for Oscars

Oscar nominee Dev Patel in a scene from 'Lion.'

By Louis Chan

HOPEFULLY, #OscarsSoWhite, is no more.

The Oscar nominations came out today with six black actors garnering nominations, the most in Oscar history. After huge uproars two years in a row about the lack of diversity at the Academy Awards, this was a refreshing change.

Asian/American Pacific Islanders were also among the honored.

Dev Patel snagged a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his role as Saroo Brierley in Lion, which stars Nicole Kidman and Rooney Mara. Patel portrays an Indian-born Australian businessman who goes in search for his birth mother 25 years later.

Patel's breakout film was Slum Dog Millionaire, which won eight Academy Awards, but none for acting. Patel was not even nominated back then. He is just the third Indian actor and just the 13th Asian to ever receive a nomination.

Disney’s Moana received a nomination for best animated feature. The film garnered praise from some members of the Pacific Islander community for its cultural authenticity and for its extensive research into the Island culture. Others, however, condemned it for what they perceived as cultural appropriation.

Moana was also nominated for best song for "How Far I’ll Go," performed in the movie by Auli’i Cravalho, a 16-year Hawaiian actress making her Hollywood debut.

Kubo and the Two Strings won two nominations, for best visual effects and best animated feature. It starred George Takei, but was largely criticized for its lack of diversity for a film set in ancient Japan.

Director Justin Lin’s Star Trek Beyond was honored with a nomination for best make up and hair.

The nominated songs are typically performed during the telecast of the Oscars. There are several versions of the songs by a host of singers. In their push for the song, created by Hamilton's Lin Manuel Miranda, Disney had the song recorded by Asian singers popular in their respective countries. In the U.S., it was released with pop singer Alessia Cara because Disney thought it was more commercial than actress/singer Auli'l Carvalho, who is the voice of the title character.

I don't know about that. Which version do you prefer? It sure would be great to have a Hawaiian sing the song live during the Oscar's program, one of the most watched TV shows in the world.

This animated version features the voice of Auli'l Carvalho.

This version features Alessia Cara. (Voices From the Edge contributed to this report.)