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Bill Condon

Precious few

In 81 years, some 460 movies have been nominated for the best picture Oscar. This time, one by a black filmmaker may finally join the club.

Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire, directed by Lee Daniels, continues to stir the film awards season: this week it received a Golden Globe nomination for best drama. Previously it got five nominations for Independent Spirit Awards, including best feature. And as it does, Hollywood has become uncomfortably aware that something has been missing: prize contenders, by black filmmakers, about the black experience.

That record has left both movie insiders and ordinary movie lovers wondering why the best part of Hollywood —...