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DAR Films: 15 Oscar Worthy Performances By Black Actors

By @TrueGodImmortal



Now that Oscar season is officially over, I figured it would be a prime time to look back at a number of performances from black actors that could have and should have been nominated (if they weren't) or won Oscars for their performance. There are some performances that don't get the credit they deserve and a few that have been slept on by the Academy and audiences alike. Today, we discuss 15 of those performances. Let's get into it.

*Denzel Washington (Fences, 2016)


-This is a film that I really can't believe I had the pleasure of witnessing. The emotional depth in the performance from Denzel is brilliant and I felt that he was recently robbed of the Oscar for Best Actor. His performance was nothing short of amazing as Troy, the hard working man with a huge secret and flaws beyond repair, but he still loves his family. It's a truly legendary performance, and I've watched this film multiple times, and can't get enough of it honestly. This might go down as one of my favorite films ever. A large amount of the reason for that is Denzel's performance.

*Idris Elba- (Beasts Of No Nation, 2015)



-This movie received critical acclaim, but yet Idris did not get nominated for this role. He was excellent in this calculated and methodical role, which is honestly one of the darkest roles I've witnessed. A murderer, a rapist, and a downright despicable portrayal, this was such a contrast from the usual performances of Idris that he should have been nominated without question.

*Danny Glover (The Color Purple, 1986)


-Many might be shocked to see this role listed, but to me, this is the greatest role of Danny Glover's career. He was evil, yet in a way, you sympathized with how sad he was in essence. In love with Shug Avery, who wanted nothing to do with him beyond using him, his role as Mister was so layered that despite all of the sickening things he did, you couldn't stop watching him on the screen. If anything, for making his character so disliked (and unintentionally hilarious via his insults), Danny deserved accolades for his role.

*David Oyelowo (Selma, 2014)



-Selma was the talk of the awards just a while back. Common and John Legend had a song from the movie that won an Oscar, as well as this role receiving a Golden Globes nomination, but David's role as Martin Luther King was left out of the Oscars. His poise and handling of the role, along with the emotions displayed through the tough real life events makes this an Oscar worthy performance.

*Diahann Carroll (Claudine, 1974)



-I honestly like this movie, despite the really limited premise and story. The score is provided by Curtis Mayfield, and James Earl Jones stars opposite Diahann as Rupert, and he gives a solid performance, but Diahann is magical in this role as a Harlem single mother living on welfare with 6 children. Despite not being a fan of the narrative, I was a huge fan of the depth within Diahann's performance. One of her best, if not the best of her illustrious career.

*Will Smith (The Pursuit of Happyness, 2006)


-While the movie itself might not have been worthy of winning the Best Picture, to me, there was no other choice to win the Oscar for Best Actor than Will. This was his best performance, from the level of emotions he showcased to the way you felt the struggle he was going through (though I'm not sure why anyone would want to sell Bone Density scanners), and is right up there with his Ali performance, and I'd say slightly better (which is why the Ali performance isn't on this list).

*Pam Grier (Jackie Brown, 1997)


-I consider this one of the best performances ever in a Tarantino movie, and I'm not even really a fan of his films. Pam Grier played the titular character and she did it with the same poise and smoothness that she did her blaxiploitation roles in years past. Coffy, Foxy Brown, and all of those films seemed to have a more mature update in a way with Jackie Brown, and the biggest reason for this movie being considered a classic is Pam Grier in her first leading role in years.

*Michael Clarke Duncan (The Green Mile, 1999)


-Although this film isn't one of my favorites (I'm not a big fan of the movie and the circumstances of it), I think Michael Clarke Duncan and his performance as John Coffey was out of this world, and I feel as though he was truly robbed of the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. The image of this large human being showcasing a more gentle and sensitive side through the movie is what made this performance so telling and gripping, even if the movie itself lacked (mostly the premise from Stephen King). RIP.

*Whoopi Goldberg (The Color Purple, 1986)


-For her role as Celie in the Color Purple, Whoopi was honestly magnetic. Her character wasn't the most outspoken, but the shy and demure role she plays here is gripping, as she endured racism, domestic violence, and rape, in a time where the world thought this was okay. Whoopi manages to capture magic with her performance here and I think she should have won the Oscar for this role. She won the Golden Globe for Best Actress, but of course, the Academy refused to give a woman of color the highest award an actress could achieve. At least during this time.

*Angela Bassett (What's Love Got To Do With It, 1993)


-In order to play Tina Turner, one must be able to mimic her movements, demeanor, and even her vocal styling. Angela Bassett did just that in this classic film, and she did it with a grace that not even Tina herself could carry, I believe. Angela gracefully portrayed Tina from the emotional breakdowns to the embodiment of her stage presence, and more. This was a masterful performance and should have won the Oscar.

*Eddie Murphy (Dreamgirls, 2006)


-This is one of the biggest robberies I've ever seen honestly.  After Dr. Dolittle 2, his turns in Shrek, Showtime and more, Eddie Murphy needed a role to revitalize his career. His role as James "Thunder" Early, inspired by James Brown in many ways, was one of the best performances I've seen in a musical. How Eddie didn't walk away with the trophy is beyond me, because that Best Supporting Actor Oscar was for him. No one else.

*Paul Winfield (Sounder, 1972)


-Alongside Cicely Tyson (who was also in the film), Paul Winfield would end up gain a nomination for his impeccable role as Nathan Lee Morgan. I've always felt Winfield was a great actor, and this was my first introduction to his work by my grandmother, so this movie has a special place in Young True's heart. Still, I believe Winfield should have walked away with the trophy, as his portrayal of Nathan is nothing short of amazing.

*Laurence Fishburne (What's Love Got To Do It, 1993)


-In what is one of my all time favorite performances in the history of film (and I mean that), Laurence is honestly exactly what you would expect Ike to be, but even greater. From the abusive disposition of Ike to his infamous courtroom scene, all the way up to his slick talking to get Tina in bed, you don't feel like you're watching Laurence as Ike, but rather just watching Ike at his best, which speaks to his powerful performance. There was no reason why he went home empty handed at the Oscars (Tom Hanks did NOT have a better performance).

*Taraji P. Henson (Hidden Figures, 2017)


-This might come as a shock. However, I really felt that her performance as Katherine Johnson in this film was Oscar worthy. I was surprised to not see her nominated for the role, as I think she had one of the best female performances in film during this most recent Oscar period. The scene where she explains why she runs to the bathroom and is missing for large periods of time hits the soul, solidifying the fact that she should have been nominated for the award for Best Actress. Her performance is her best one in a film.

*Denzel Washington (Malcolm X, 1992)


-When we discuss biopics, this is the ultimate. Denzel embodied Malcolm in every way possible and the way he carries himself in this role, makes it my prsonal favorite performance in the history of film (yes, I said it). This was where Denzel became my favorite actor and he hasn't lost that title since. It's literally the best performance of his career. The 2nd best performance of his career? It kicks off this very list.

-True 

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