August Wilson is in good company among posthumous Oscar nominees and winners
If he wins the Oscar for adapted screenplay for “Fences,” the late playwright August Wilson will join an impressive group of posthumous winners and nominees.
Wilson won a Tony Award and a Pulitzer Prize for his 1983 play, which he later adapted into a screenplay. But it took more than 20 years for the movie version of “Fences” to come out; Wilson’s death at age 60 in October 2005 was well before the film’s 2016 release. The play — one of the 10 works in the African American playwright’s famed “Pittsburgh cycle” — revolves around an embittered garbage man in the 1950s struggling to support his family.
Now, the acclaimed film version of his play has Oscar nominations for picture, lead actor for Denzel Washington (who also directed), supporting actress for Viola Davis and adapted screenplay for Wilson.
If Wilson wins the award — he has strong competition from, among others, Barry Jenkins for “Moonlight” — he will be only the second posthumous screenplay winner.
There have been posthumous nominees since the first Academy Awards in 1929. And though the higher profile nominees and winners have been in the acting categories — including lead actor winner Peter Finch for 1976’s “Network” and supporting actor winner Heath Ledger for 2008’s “The Dark Knight” — posthumous winners and nominees have also come from such categories best film, music, art director, editing, documentary, sound, short film and cinematographer.
Here’s a look at some of the posthumous winners and nominees over the years.
Gerald C. Duffy received a nomination for title writing for the first Academy Awards in 1929 for the 1927 silent drama “The Private Life of Helen of Troy.” Duffy was a well-known short story writer and editor of Redbook magazine who became a scenario and title writer in 1919. He was only 32 when he died suddenly while dictating a script on June 25, 1928.
A Wilson win would come 11-plus years after his death. But it wouldn’t come close to shattering this record: Larry Russell won an Academy Award nearly two decades after his death, for original dramatic score for “Limelight,” in 1973. A win he shared with Ray Rasch and Charlie Chaplin.
The film was actually released in 1952. But when Chaplin went to England for the premiere, his re-entry permit was…