3 Arabs, 1 Muslim nominated for Oscars; shouldn’t we be proud?



Sun, 24 Feb 2019 - 03:18 GMT


Sun, 24 Feb 2019 - 03:18 GMT

Nadine Labaki, Rami Malek and Talal Derki - Facebook.

Nadine Labaki, Rami Malek and Talal Derki - Facebook.

CAIRO – 24 February 2019: Filmmakers, audience and cinema critics are eager to see who will win the most acclaimed cinematic awards.

The 91st Academy Awards is somehow special for Arabs and Muslims as three Arabs and one Muslim are among the Oscar nominees and are about to make history.

Egyptian American actor Rami Malek is nominated for Best Actor award, Lebanese film "Capernaum" directed by Nadine Labaki is nominated for Best Foreign Film award and Syrian director Talal Derki’s “Of Father and Sons” is nominated for Best Documentary award.

Muslim American actor Mahershala Ali is also nominated for Best Supporting Actor award.

Rami Malek

Malek has won all the awards preceding the 91st Academy Awards: The Golden Globes, the BAFTAs and SAG, so it will be frustrating if he doesn't win an Oscar after his brilliant portrayal of Queen's main vocalist, the legendary Freddie Mercury, in "Bohemian Rhapsody".

Malek is an Egyptian-American actor, who was born in Los Angeles on May 12, 1981, to Egyptian immigrant parents who are Saeed Malek and Nelly Abdel Malek.

Originally from Minya's Samalut, Malek's parents immigrated to the US in the 1970s. Malek's journey from Upper Egypt to the Golden Globes was both difficult and interesting.

The 37-year-old actor grabbed the award after a tough competition with acclaimed stars, Bradley Cooper for "A Star is Born", Willem Dafoe for "At Eternity's Gate", John David Washington for "BlacKkKlansman" and Lucas Hedges for "Boy Erased".

Malek has been nominated before for a Golden Globe for his performance in the TV series "Mr. Robot". Malek was the first non-white actor to take home the Emmy for Best Actor in a Drama Series in over 18 years in 2016 for his role in "Mr. Robot".

Malek's win, along with the film's win of Best Motion Picture Drama, were the most tweeted-about incidents at the Golden Globe.

“Thank you to Freddie Mercury for giving me the joy of a lifetime. I love you, you beautiful man. This is for and because of you, gorgeous,” Malek said dedicating his great win to the legendary singer.

Malek elaborated that he drew personal connections with Mercury after depicting him. “I tried to find the humanity in him,” he said during a press room speech after the film's win.

“I related to him being an immigrant struggling to discover his identity," he added. "I tried to take everything he was struggling with, his complication, his chaos, his turmoil and this beauty inside of him. He lifted me up to be everything I could be in this film.”

"Bohemian Rhapsody" was actually what the Egyptian-American actor needed to shift from acclaimed actor to established movie star.

"Bohemian Rhapsody" also winning Best Drama, further stabilised Malek's outstanding performance in the movie that succeeded both critically and commercially, yielding over $700 million and becoming the highest grossing biopic of all time.

Being provided the golden chance to perform the role of the iconic Mercury, Malek was aware of the huge responsibility and took it very seriously.

"I was very cognizant of the work it was going to take to get anywhere close to becoming Freddy Mercury. I flew myself to London and put myself up and just got hammering away," Malek explained to E News.

"Piano lessons and worked with a movement coach and singing lessons—everything I could possibly do. And then I watched copious amounts of Freddie Mercury performances," he reiterated.

Malek is now dating his "Bohemian Rhapsody" co-star Lucy Boynton, 24, who plays Mary Austin, Mercury's first fiancée.

Malek and Bonyton had never talked about their relationship in public until recently when Malek confirmed their relation at the Palm Springs International Film Festival where he accepted the Breakthrough Performance Award.

"Thank you, Lucy Boynton," Malek said to Billboard. "You have been my ally, my confidant, my love. Thank you so much," he added.

Malek who used to sell falafel and deliver pizza to support himself financially at the beginning of his career is now enjoying his newfound fame and saying goodbye forever to anonymity, giving a true example that it is never impossible.

Mahershala Ali

Mahershala Ali is nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the historical drama “Green Book”.

In 2016, Ali played a drug dealer in "Moonlight", a role for which he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, becoming the first Muslim actor to win such an award.


Acclaimed American presenter Oprah Winfrey who is at the same time a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said that "Capernaum" is a must-see movie.

"Capernaum" has previously won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, drawing much attention to Labaki as a distinguished filmmaker.

The movie tells the story of a rebellious child who lives in a poor area and decides to file a suit against his parents for bringing him into this cruel world.

"Of Father and Sons"

"Of Father and Sons" is the only non-American film nominated for Best Documentary at the 91st Academy Awards. Derki risked his life to make this documentary.

Derki lived for two and a half years in northern Syria with Abu Osama, a member of Al-Nusra Front (an ISIS family).

He pretended to be sympathetic to their cause so that he could film them in an attempt to learn, first-hand, how young men become radicalized.

Focusing on a father and his sons, the film lays bare in terrifying details how young boys with kindness in their hearts find themselves in an Al-Qaeda training camp at a tender young age, all to gain the approval of their beloved patriarch.



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