Will Denzel be next black Best Actor?

I wish I could say it was 5:30 a.m., and we were all still a little groggy here. But when the announcement of the nominees for this year's Academy Awards was made by dawn's early light in Hollywood last week, it was already 8:30 a.m. here on the East Coast.

Film critic David Sterritt wrote in his Page 1 story for the next day (Feb. 13, "African-American actors catch Oscar's eye"): "No black actor has won an Oscar since [Sidney Poitier's] victory for 'Lilies of the Field' in 1963."

Of course, what we meant to say (as numerous alert readers reminded us) was that no black actor has won Best Actor since Mr. Poitier. Three African-American men - Louis Gossett Jr. in "An Officer and a Gentleman" (1983), Denzel Washington in "Glory" (1990), and Cuba Gooding Jr. "Jerry Maguire" (1997) have won in the Best Supporting Actor category since Poitier's achievement.

Mr. Washington is nominated this year for Best Actor ("Training Day"), along with another black actor, Will Smith ("Ali"). And black actress Halle Berry is a Best Actress nominee ("Monster's Ball"). "To say that these nominations mean that African-Americans are now getting the recognition they deserve is to give a lot of power to people who don't have it," Washington told Newsweek magazine this week. "Three nominations means three nominations - nothing more or nothing less - for black actors. I don't worry about a statue that doesn't look like me."

While we're in mea culpa mode: A photo caption last Friday ("Will the real Bard of Avon please stand? Feb. 15, page 15) misidentifies the man holding a portrait of Christopher Marlowe. He is Mark Rylance, artistic director of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London. Onward.

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