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Outside of the 99% - Performances That Should've Been Nominated This Year, But Weren't

by Nijla Mumin
February 28, 2014 9:44 AM
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Another year, another Oscar snub. Or, should we call them yearly omissions? This year saw an array of worthy performances from black actors, many of which went unrecognized by the Academy. The recent “Diversity Gap" infographic has given yet another number-based confirmation to what we already know. For those outside of the 99% of winning white actresses and directors, and the 91% of white actors, we have this list, honoring the black actors and actresses who made us feel, think, laugh, and cry in 2013.

Michael B. Jordan

Who wasn’t crying at the end of Fruitvale Station? Who wasn’t sitting on the edge of their seat during the terse Fruitvale BART scene, hoping Oscar would survive, but knowing he wouldn’t? It takes a special actor to make an audience root for the survival of a character who they know will die- to wish somehow that he lived. Jordan navigated the role with an everyday humanity that touched many. Too bad some Oscar voters didn’t see it that way.

Isaiah Washington

There is a powerful scene in Alexander Moor's Blue Caprice where John Allen Muhammad, played by Isaiah Washington, walks through a grocery store pushing a shopping cart as he spouts off his plan for mass sniper shootings, to his young accomplice Lee Boyd Malvo (Tequan Richmond). He loses himself in his elaborate plan and his face and voice take on a concentrated force that radiates through the screen. We forget we’re in a grocery store, and so does he. We are sucked into his mania and hysteria. It’s a scary, powerful performance that lends the film an eerie, bruising quality. Isaiah Washington dared to embrace the psychosis in this character, and in doing so, scared and moved us into watching.


Naomie Harris

Naomie Harris’ performance as Winnie Mandela in Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom was one of carefully-timed range. She was the stand-out in this film, revealing complexities of character scene by scene. Many have attempted to portray Winnie, but this performance may be one of most honest. From the beginning, Winnie was not neat or quiet. She proudly states she “hates” the white Apartheid regime as she walks with Nelson on their first date. Later, when he is imprisoned, she fights to preserve their cause and protect their family, under constant scrutiny and government-ordered abuse. The thread of resistance inside of her grows stronger, and by the time she’s released and yells “Amandla Ngawethu,” (power to us) we surely believe it.

Danai Gurira

Mother Of George

Danai Gurira’s role as Adenike in Andrew Dosunmu's film Mother of George saw her take on an emotionally complex role about a subject that often goes overlooked in cinema- fertility. The mounting cultural pressures to conceive a son weigh heavily on Adenike, and her face registers all the fear, worry, and expectation that come with it. Gurira plays the role with a powerful restraint, revealing an independent, loyal Nigerian wife who is determined to save her family, by any means necessary. This determination makes some of final scenes extremely evocative and touching.

And finally…


Gloria Gaines from Lee Daniels' The Butler was like an aunt we wanted to hug. She was lonely, jealous, and loving; a combination that makes for a particularly moving performance. Aching to be allowed inside her husband’s world at the White House, she raised two sons and entertained the affections of another less noble man until she cut him loose in one of the film’s more memorable scenes. Informed by the complexities and contradictions in the black family, Oprah’s performance was familiar in a way that made it special and inviting.

What were some of your favorite performances that weren’t nominated for an Oscar this year?

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  • moulin | March 3, 2014 1:22 AMReply

    come on. Outside naomi Harris, this is such a sentimental list.

  • Issi | March 2, 2014 6:00 PMReply

    The article is 100 percent on the money. The Oscars are garbage and only serves as validation for an old white institution.

  • deecreative | March 1, 2014 11:15 AMReply

    If the movie 'The Descendants' won an Oscar, 'Fruitvale Station' is 100% in that category!

  • Lance | February 28, 2014 10:29 PMReply

    Michael B. Jordan and Danai Gurira should have been nominated for sure. The others? Not so much.

  • gerard kennelly | February 28, 2014 3:48 PMReply

    as far as i am concerned the worst snubs were,,,
    emma thompson
    vithaya pansringarm
    Oscar isaacs
    julianne nicholosn
    jeremy renner
    ryan gosling
    adele exarchapolous
    tom hanks
    brie Larson
    daniel bruhl
    lea seydoux
    dennis quaid
    berenice bejo
    chris cooper
    mads mikelsen
    michael douglas
    kristin scott Thomas
    chris o'dowd
    dane dehaan
    john goodman

  • Mark W | February 28, 2014 12:53 PMReply

    Outside of the author of this piece, I hope that most of us will agree there's an understandable reason these actors weren't nominated: they were good, but not great.

  • Eric | February 28, 2014 11:55 AMReply

    Oprah? what a joke, she is terrible

  • Petersonbxp | February 28, 2014 11:12 AMReply

    Youve had over a month to write about this. Time to move on.

  • Fan | February 28, 2014 10:30 AMReply

    I'm a fan of Michael but I think his performance in that film is being overrated. There really wasn't that much depth to the character.

  • GGlane | March 1, 2014 5:22 PM

    Exactly. The movie was good, maybe just okay but not great. The story was heartfelt and sad, but none of the acting was great. I don't know what they could have done to make it great, or if it was even possible. The movie was just to silent, to many long pauses, not enough dept. It's like another writer said, we all knew how the story would end, but we were still wishing and hoping it would be different, that Oscar would live.

  • tlewisisdope | February 28, 2014 10:24 AMReply

    Tequan Richmond was every bit Isaiah's equal, giving a performance of tremendous range despite having almost no lines at all.

  • furiousflower | March 31, 2014 10:37 PM

    I second those props for Tequan. I just saw Blue Caprice and found myself thinking either this young man is intuitively gifted as an actor or he has had some serious technical training or maybe both.

  • filmladyeo | March 3, 2014 6:17 PM

    I agree 100%. Both Isaiah Washington and Tequan Richmond were awesome in BLUE CAPRICE. I just wonder how could both of these actors be overlooked not only by the Academy, but the Golden Globes, the NAACP and even ABFF.

  • Ava | February 28, 2014 5:46 PM

    I agree. Tequan Richmond should have been nominated. If Hailey Steinfeld (True Grit) and Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine) could be nominated for their roles, why not Tequan? The film was every bit about Lee Boyd Malvo as it was about John Muhammad, Tequan had to do a lot of heavy lifting in that film and he more than carried his weight in his performance.

  • Fuji | February 28, 2014 9:59 AMReply

    Oh what a coincidence that they're all black and the author just happens to be black too!

  • Curtis | February 28, 2014 10:10 AM

    Hey moron, read what the title of the site says before posting stupid comments.

  • charlotte | February 28, 2014 10:09 AM

    it explains in the introduction that it is a post about black actors...

  • MrSmith | February 28, 2014 8:12 AMReply

    Fruitvale Station was an amazing film.

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