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10 People Who Should’ve Gotten Oscar Nods

February 20, 2015

Oscar season is a time to remember and reward some of the year’s best films and talent, right? Well, supposedly. But the lack of diversity in this year’s nominated films and performances has a lot of people questioning if the Academy ever really gets it right.

So, we’d like to highlight 10 films released in the 2,000’s that never quite got the recognition they deserved. (Since Selma’s snubs were blatantly obvious, we’ve chosen to omit those from the list.)

1. Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Chadwick Boseman, Get On Up (2014)
Get on Up tells the powerful story of James Brown’s rise from extreme poverty to the “Godfather of Soul.” Even if you didn’t get into the movie (weird), you have to respect Boseman’s detailed portrayal, arguably one of the most challenging roles ever, and he nails it.

2. Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Forest Whitaker, Lee Daniels’ The Butler (2013)
Also starring Oprah Winfrey and David Oyelowo, the film revolves around the true story of Cecil Gaines, who served eight presidents during his tenure as a butler at the White House. It seemed to have all the right moving pieces: a chronicled experience through different time periods in America and a talented, celebrity-driven cast. It was a more than committed performance by Whitaker. What, Whitaker can’t also join the two-Oscar club?

3. Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role: Don Cheadle, Crash (2004)
People focused on Matt Dillon’s cop, but we think they should have looked at another officer in this movie. The outlandish and brutally honest role of Det. Graham Waters in this interwoven story of race, loss and equality set in Los Angeles isn’t one that you’d first associate with Don Cheadle, and that adds to what makes his performance so amazing.

4. Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role: Samuel L. Jackson, Django Unchained (2013)
The Quentin Tarantino film takes a different perspective on the slave narrative by telling the fictional story of a freed slave, Django, on a mission to rescue his wife, Broomhilda. Samuel L. Jackson’s brilliant and comical performance as the bitter and conniving slave, Stephen, helped show the different dynamics a slave might have had with his master. (And his nuanced performance in this film reminded us of ANOTHER time he wasn’t nominated, for Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever. Cannes and the New York Film Critics saw fit to highlight it, though. Go back and watch and find it. Heartbreaking.)

5. Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role: Gugu Mbatha Raw, Beyond the Lights (2014)
Beyond the Lights centers on a story that questions how the pressures of fame affect women. Mbatha-Raw takes what could’ve easily been the clichéd role of Noni, an over-sexualized R&B singer, and makes it into a masterpiece of a performance.

6. Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role: Sophie Okonedo, Skin (2008)
Skin tells the complex, true story of Sandra Laing, a young South African girl who appears physically black. Yet she was born to parents who appear physically white. The role is perhaps Okonedo’s best performance, but it never even registered on the awards scene.

7. Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Octavia Spencer, Fruitvale Station (2013)
Starring Michael B. Jordan, Fruitvale Station shows the events that occurred on the day that Oscar Grant was murdered by a police officer in the Bay Area. Octavia Spencer’s grounded but truthful performance as a mom dealing with the reality of losing her son was clearly overlooked by the Academy.

8. Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Jurnee Smollett, The Great Debaters (2007)
Set in 1935, The Great Debaters tells the true story of a black debate team from Wiley College that went on to challenge Harvard in the national championship. Smollett brought such brutal conviction to the role of debater Samantha Booke, and it’s a shame she never got the reward for it.

9. Best Director: Amma Asante, Belle (2014)
Asante brought a beautiful, revolutionary story to life. A black woman in 18th-century British aristocracy? Just imagine the nuances of race, gender and power. Well done, Ms. Asante. We recognize your work.

10. Best Director: Steve McQueen, Shame (2011)
Yes, he was nominated for 12 Years a Slave, but one of Steve McQueen’s earlier films, Shame, starring Michael Fassbender as a man struggling with a sexual addiction, never got the recognition it deserved despite Steve McQueen’s provocative take.

Did we miss any of individuals you thought deserved an Oscar nomination? Comment below!

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