Blitz Bazawule is a brave man. The director, who previously directed several shorts as well as two episodes of “Cherish the Day,” is at the helm for the new adaptation of “The Color Purple.” Based on Alice Walker‘s novel of the same name, the project was previously turned into a film in 1985 — with none other than Steven Spielberg serving as director.
The story follows an African American woman struggling in the South of the USA in the early 1900s. The original film was adapted from Walker’s book but this new version is adapted from the 2005 musical stage show. Spielberg’s movie garnered 11 Oscar nominations, including a Best Picture bid and three nods for the movie’s acting. The movie didn’t manage to turn any of those 11 nominations into wins (“Out of Africa” won Best Picture and seven Oscars in total) but those three acting nominations are telling and set a high standard for Bazawule’s adaptation. However, based on our early Oscar odds, it looks like this new version of “The Color Purple” could match those three acting nominations.
Whoopi Goldberg took on the lead role of Celie Harris Johnson in the 1985 movie. She was nominated for Best Actress, losing to Geraldine Page for “The Trip to Bountiful.” Fantasia Barrino takes on that role in this year’s adaptation and we are not only predicting her to get nominated for Best Actress, we are predicting her to win as well. The other performers we currently think will be nominated for Best Actress are Greta Lee (“Past Lives”), Sandra Hüller (“Anatomy of a Fall”), Natalie Portman (“May December”), and Margot Robbie (“Poor Things”).
Leading ladies in musicals have done well across Oscars history, including Emma Stone in 2017 for “La La Land” and Marion Cotillard in 2008 for “La Vie en Rose.” Other champs include Liza Minelli in “Cabaret” (1973), Barbra Streisand in “Funny Girl” (1969) and Julie Andrews in “Mary Poppins” (1965)? This would be Barrino’s first-ever nomination, but that checks out. Goldberg’s “The Color Purple” bid was her first Oscar nomination, too. She later won Best Supporting Actress in 1991 for “Ghost.”
The first film also produced two Best Supporting Actress nominations: Margaret Avery for playing Shug Avery and Oprah Winfrey for playing Sofia Johnson. They both lost to Anjelica Huston for “Prizzi’s Honor” and those bids were the first ever for both Avery and Winfrey. It was Avery’s only Oscar nomination but Winfrey contended for Best Picture in 2015 for producing “Selma.”
We think Bazawule’s adaptation will match both of those bids. Taraji P. Henson steps into Shug’s shoes while Danielle Brooks plays Sofia — we predict that both of them will land an Oscar bid for Best Supporting Actress alongside Lily Gladstone (“Killers of the Flower Moon”), Emily Blunt (“Oppenheimer”), and Julianne Moore (“May December”), with Gladstone out in front. This would be Brooks’ first-ever Oscar nomination while Henson was previously nominated in this category in 2009 for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”
Supporting actresses fare better than their lead counterparts in movie musicals. Ariana DeBose won in 2022 for “West Side Story” (another musical remake), Meryl Streep was nominated for “Into the Woods” in 2015, Anne Hathaway won in 2013 for “Les Misérables,” and Penélope Cruz was nominated in 2010 for “Nine.”
And don’t worry about two actresses from the same movie competing against one another for a nomination. Two actresses often both get in for Best Supporting Actress. This happened last year with “Everything Everywhere All at Once” when Stephanie Hsu was nominated and Jamie Lee Curtis won. In 2019, Stone and Rachel Weisz were both nominated for “The Favourite” while there was a streak of four consecutive years from 2009 to 2012 where two actresses from the same film were nominated in this category. In 2009, Viola Davis and Amy Adams were nominated for Doubt.” In 2010, Anna Kendrick and Vera Farmiga were nominated for “Up in the Air.” In 2011, Adams was nominated for “The Fighter” and her co-star, Melissa Leo, won. And in 2012, Jessica Chastain was nominated for “The Help” while her co-star, Octavia Spencer, won. We think Henson and Brooks will join that club.
So, there you go. All three actresses in Bazawule’s movie will likely match the same bids that Spielberg’s troupe managed in 1986. But wait… that’s not all. We actually think that Bazawule’s film will go one better and earn one more acting nomination. We are currently predicting that the following performers will be nominated for Best Supporting Actor: Robert De Niro (“Killers of the Flower Moon”), Ryan Gosling (“Barbie”), Robert Downey Jr. (“Oppenheimer”), John Magaro (“Past Lives”), and Colman Domingo for “The Color Purple.” Domingo plays the role of Mister Johnson, the role created by Danny Glover in the 1985 film. Glover was snubbed for an Oscar bid back then but we think Domingo will right that wrong and land an Oscar nomination for that role this year (we also think Domingo will be nominated for Best Actor for “Rustin,” so he’s in for a great year if both happens).
That means that Bazawule’s “The Color Purple,” according to our odds charts, will land four Oscar nominations for acting and one win for Best Actress for Barrino. If that happens, Bazawule will have well and truly trumped Spielberg.
Make your predictions at Gold Derby now. Download our free and easy app for Apple/iPhone devices or Android (Google Play) to compete against legions of other fans plus our experts and editors for best prediction accuracy scores. See our latest prediction champs. Can you top our esteemed leaderboards next? Always remember to keep your predictions updated because they impact our latest racetrack odds, which terrify Hollywood chiefs and stars. Don’t miss the fun. Speak up and share your huffy opinions in our famous forums where 5,000 showbiz leaders lurk every day to track latest awards buzz. Everybody wants to know: What do you think? Who do you predict and why?