It’s a special kind of snub when the Oscars only decide to nominate nine of ten possible films for Best Picture…and the one you liked best still doesn’t make it. That’s how I feel about Fruitvale Station, which I felt was a shoe-in for multiple categories as soon as I saw it last year.
It’s the true story of twenty-two year old Oscar Grant, who was fatally shot by a BART officer while unarmed and handcuffed in the early hours of New Years Day 2009, and I felt it was pretty stunning in every way. The script was well-written, the cast was filled with talents like Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, and Octavia Spencer, and it cleaned up at multiple high-profile film festivals, winning the Jury Award and Audience Award at Sundance, as well as taking Best First Film at Cannes on account of this being twenty-seven year old (!!!) writer-director Ryan Coogler‘s feature film debut.
In short, it was impressive in just about every way a film could be impressive, and it also brought crucial race-relations issues to the forefront of the national discussion at a time when the media was flooded with controversy over Trayvon Martin’s murder. In the best and worst ways, this film was perfectly timed, and yet it was completely ignored by most of the awards circuit, most notably the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards.
Thankfully, the film has been more rewarded in the independent film world, and has been especially recognized with accolades at the NAACP Image Awards. At the award show’s forty-fifth annual iteration, which airs tomorrow night, Fruitvale Station is nominated in almost every category, from Outstanding Motion Picture to Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture (Michael B. Jordan) to Outstanding Supporting Actress (Octavia Spencer) to Outstanding Independent Motion Picture. After being placed on multiple lists for ‘top ten films of the year’, Fruitvale finally got the sweep of nominations that it deserved.
Given, that same award show also snubbed Barkhad Abdi, who I felt was phenomenal in Captain Phillips, in favor of nominating Terence Howard twice, once for Best Man Holiday, and has Halle Berry up for her work in The Call next to some other very questionable selections…but you have to start somewhere, right?
Bottom line, I just want everyone to see this movie. EVEN YOU, ACADEMY OF MOTION PICTURE ARTS AND SCIENCES. I know how you work now, and there’s no way you’d reject this film if you’d actually seen it. Sigh.