With Academy Awards voting underway, EW’s Prize Fighter is kicking off the “Consider This” series, asking folks with Oscar histories of their own to share their personal favorites of the year. Alfre Woodard, who had a supporting actress nomination in 1983 for Cross Creek and is best known for the movies Scrooged, Passion Fish and Primal Fear, wrote this essay about her love of Middle of Nowhere, an indie love story about a nurse struggling to maintain her relationship to a husband in prison, only to find herself falling for another man:
In Middle of Nowhere, we experience an exquisite, intimate tale of a woman in progress — as told through the vivid screenplay and deft direction of Ava DuVernay and the breakout performance of Emayatzy Corinealdi.
These are the kind of women artists rarely heard in modern day cinema. They are women of color telling a universal tale in a very specific way. And it is important that their work in Middle of Nowhere be seen by those of us who truly care about film.
To speak of Corinealdi’s work in this Sundance award-winning drama is to speak of discovery and revelation. You watch the film and wonder how a talent like that has gone undiscovered for so long, then revel in the joy that is watching her portray “Ruby.” Corinealdi imbues the film’s heroine with a carefully modulated combination of vulnerability and strength, humility and gusto, defiance and dignity.
The Gotham Awards bestowed her with its Breakthrough Performance Award last month, while the Spirit Awards and Image Awards have both nominated her for Best Actress. My hope is that voters and viewers will embrace and enjoy Emayatzy’s wonderful work in Middle of Nowhere. She is a bright new actress who singlehandedly occupies nearly every frame of this beautiful film with guts and grace. A performance deserving of celebration.
– Alfre Woodard, Los Angeles, December 14, 2012
Middle of Nowhere opened in limited release in October.
It was nominated for best picture at the Gotham Awards, where Corinealdi won the Breakthrough Award, and Duvernay claimed the best director jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival last January. The film was also nominated for four awards at the Independent Spirit Awards, including the Cassavetes prize for low-budget filmmaking, a best actress nod for Corinealdi, supporting actor mention for David Oyelowo, and supporting actress nomination for Lorraine Toussaint. Corinealdi and Oyelowo also have acting nominations from the NAACP Image Awards.