Top Oscar Snubs: Denzel, Spike, Halle, and More

Published by Clay Cane on Friday, February 25, 2011 at 4:21 pm.

Last year’s Academy Awards was something to look forward to. However, 2011 is just another predictable awards show that is flavorless for a variety of reasons. From the New York Times to right here at BET.com, there have been rants on the lack of diversity at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards. Out of the 24 categories, not one African-American was nominated.

This year it is less about Black folks being overlooked and more about Black dramatic films not getting the green light in Hollywood. That said, below are some of the most disastrous Oscar snubs.

10. Denzel Washington in Philadelphia (1993)

Although Denzel Washington had already won a best supporting actor Oscar for Glory, the fact that he didn’t get a best supporting act nod for his portrayal of a homophobic lawyer in Philadelphia was unexplainable. The film received five Oscar nominations (won two), but none for Washington.

9. Halle Berry in Things We Lost in the Fire (2007)

Halle already won her Oscar in 2002 for Monster’s Ball, but 2007’s Things We Lost in the Fire was arguably the strongest performance of her career. She and her co-star Benicio Del Toro were completely ignored during the 2008 Academy Awards. Although the film was a box office failure, it was a critical success, which is usually the formula for most Oscar-winning movies.

8. Samuel L. Jackson in Jungle Fever (1991)

In the late ’80s to early ’90s, the unspoken rule in Hollywood was, if you were in a Spike Lee movie, no matter how brilliant you were, it was rare you would be recognized by the Academy Awards. Samuel L. Jackson’s performance as Wesley Snipes’ crackhead brother was unforgettable, but he was snubbed. The hardest-working man in Hollywood has only received one Oscar nomination, for Pulp Fiction in 1995.

7. Sidney Poitier in In the Heat of the Night (1967)

I guess after giving Sidney Poitier an Academy Award in 1964 (the first Black person to win for a leading role) for Lilies of the Field, they passed on even nominating him for In the Heat of the Night in 1967. His performance went down in history when he hollered ‘They call me Mr. Tibbs!” and smacked a racist white sheriff.

6. Angela Bassett in Malcolm X (1992)

Angela Bassett’s portrayal of the late Dr. Betty Shabazz was impassioned and poignant. Even though Denzel Washington received a best actor nod and there was a Best Costume Design nod, the passing of Bassett was the Academy Awards’ biggest error. Right next to ignoring Spike Lee for best director.

5. “Hopeless” by Dionne Farris for Love Jones (1997)

It’s not only actors and directors who get ignored for the Oscars—musicians do too. Dionne Farris‘ “Hopeless” was a big R&B hit and definitely deserved a nod for best original song from a movie, which was, of course, 1997’s Love Jones. Even though there was a buzz that the song was a contender, it got nothing.

4. City of God (2002)

The graphic film about the violent favelas in Brazil received three Oscar nods, but what left many people amazed was that it was ignored for Best Foreign Film. Roger Ebert, one of the most respected film critics in the world, said he was “mad” at the snub.

3. Set It Off (1996)

If Set It Off starred Demi Moore, Gena Davis, Hilary Swank, and Nicole Kidman, the movie would’ve received Oscar nominations across the board—think Thelma & Lousie. Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Vivica A. Fox, and Kimberly Elise all gave incredibly strong performances with a well-written script and good direction by F. Gary Gray. It was no shocker this movie wasn’t received well by the big wigs at the Academy.

2. Do the Right Thing (1989)

It was a national controversy when the Oscars blatantly ignored Spike Lee’s mega successful Do the Right Thing for Best Director and Best Film. The film received two nominations, one for Italian-American Danny Aiello in the Best Supporting Actor category and a nod for Best Screenplay. The legendary Kim Basinger, who was the Angelina Jolie of her time, famously said, “The best film of the year is not even nominated, and it’s Do the Right Thing.”

1. Eve’s Bayou (1997)

Ignoring Eve’s Bayou, which Roger Ebert said was the best film of 1997, was probably the biggest mistake the Oscars ever made when it comes to African-American film. The movie was flawless, with Samuel L. Jackson, Lynn Whitefield, and Debbie Morgan. Ebert famously said, “If it is not nominated for Academy awards, then the Academy is not paying attention.” Well, they surely didn’t.

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FYI – Oscar snubs are not just a Black thing. Latino actors have been unacknowledged for years (not one nomination for John Leguizamo!), and poor Leonardo Dicaprio, Annette Benning (who will more than likely lose this Sunday to Natalie Portman for Black Swan), and Glenn Close have all suffered legendary Oscar snubs and losses.

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