Denzel Halle Oscars
The Academy Awards

It's an inevitable debate during awards season - who won, who really should have won, and for which role. When it comes to black actors in particular, there's a longstanding belief that the Academy routinely gets it wrong, snubbing certain Oscar-worthy performances and choosing instead to hand out the trophy for roles that don't quite cut it.

In anticipation of the Academy Award ceremony this weekend, here's a look back at the black actors who've taken home the Oscar, and which other roles they should have won for, if any.


Best Actor

Sidney Poitier           

Won for: Homer Smith, Lilies of the Field (1963)                       

Should have won for: Virgil Tibbs, In the Heat of the Night (1967). Poitier's role as detective Virgil Tibbs is one of his most memorable, but Poitier was possibly passed over in light of his recent win. In The Heat of the Night was also nominated in seven other categories, winning five, including Best Picture.

Denzel Washington

Won for: Alonzo Harris, Training Day (2001)

Should have won for: Malcolm X, Malcolm X (1992). Maybe the most obvious entry on this list, as the slain civil rights activist is still considered one of Washington's most iconic roles. X director Spike Lee is remembered for his criticism of the Academy for failing to recognize both Washington and the film, saying, "I'm not the only one who thinks Denzel was robbed on that one."

Jamie Foxx

Won for: Ray Charles, Ray (2004)

This one was on the money as far as Foxx's performances go. Until Ray in 2004, Foxx's most acclaimed roles had been supporting turns as Drew "Bundini" Brown in Ali (2001) and Willie Beamen in Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday (1999). But in the "got it wrong" category, some felt the Best Actor Oscar should have gone to Don Cheadle, who starred in Hotel Rwanda that year.