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Mississippi’s impact on the Academy Awards as well as the arts world

February 29th, 2012 3 comments

Morgan Freeman at the Governors Ball following the 84th Academy Awards on Sunday in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles.

At one point during the Academy Awards presentation last week, I was taken aback by the indelible mark Mississippi and Mississippians were making on the film industry at that very moment.

Sure everyone knew about “The Help”, and wondered if the Kathryn Stockett book, then turned into a movie could pull the upset and win for Best Picture. And yes, we all were keenly aware of Octavia Spencer winning an Oscar for her role in that movie.

But, there was more — much, much more.

Our own Morgan Freeman — a winner of an Oscar for acting and a cast member of three Best Picture winners, not to mention his best movie, “Shawshank Redemption,” which is recognized as one of Top 100 movies of all time — was the leadoff hitter for the show as a presenter.

“The Muppet Movie” (remember Jim Henson) won an award, and then the academy recognized Mississippi natives James Earl Jones (that’s Darth Vader to my kids and Terrance Mann to me) and Oprah Winfrey (no description needed) with Oscars.

Their awards were part of the Governors Awards, which were launched three years ago.

With Mississippi in the midst of boosting its image among film big shots as part of a Creative Economy campaign, the state couldn’t have had a bigger and more positive night in the spotlight.

I don’t have any particular numbers to back this up, but I would suspect that Mississippi — per capita — had a bigger impact on the Academy Awards in 2012 than any other state in America.

Add that to our world-wide impact on literature as well as the music industry and there is a case to be made that Mississippi should be considered to have had the most positive historical influence on arts in America — ever.