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Where's Wallace? Michael B. Jordan Is Oscar's Odd Man Out
liferekindled wrote in ohnotheydidnt

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In a bounty year for breathtaking films made by brilliant artists, it's perhaps a little trollish to talk about "snubs." Snubs imply that someone was both undeserving and definitively worse than someone else among this year's Oscar contenders, and frankly, I'm not seeing it.

That said, if there's one man who was unfairly lost among all the bombast and big names in the Best Actor category this year, it was Michael B. Jordan, GQ's Breakout of the Year and star of Fruitvale Station, whose heartrending portrayal of Oscar Grant III, a 22-year-old man shot by police on a BART platform in 2009, flattened the hearts of everyone who laid eyes on it. A "snub," over the likes of Chiwetel Ejiofor and Matthew McConaughey? Perhaps not. But a damn shame, for sure.

The July release date almost certainly had something to do with it. The interior logic of movie studios is beyond me, but pushing out a movie of such small scope and marquee wattage in the middle of summer seems unadvisable, awards-wise. The Wolf of Wall Street could've come out then, stuffed its pockets Jordan Belfort-style, and at the end of the year we would still remind ourselves of what Marty and Leo did this year. Not so much Fruitvale, with a first-time feature director and a promising young actor at its core. (And the film's biggest name, Octavia Spencer, could've won Best Supporting with about two minutes' worth of her performance here.)



Or is it because his performance isn't, you know, actor-y enough? That's a frequent accusation of Oscar's bias, and it's fair to say here. In the five nominations' performances, the hyperbole is already evident on-screen, anguish and anger felt by the actor before it is by the audience. There's nothing wrong with that: It's worked since the days of Laurence Olivier, and it can still tug at the heartstrings today. But the Academy can sometimes prefer it over subtlety, to the point of exclusion. As someone who still stings at the memory of Sean Penn (Mystic River) winning over Bill Murray (Lost in Translation), I might be overly quick to jump to that conclusion.

Jordan, however, is content to let the tragedy play its course. He plays a young man with grown-man problems, whose demise and notoriety are set in motion by events of unknown and unintended consequence. His past transgressions happened offscreen in another life—all we see is a genial working man, a mama's boy, the father of a young girl. And so, we spend two hours warming up to what we know to be a doomed man's life.

A whole mess of butterfly flutter and fly throughout the last day of Oscar's life—a jailhouse grudge here, a meet-cute with a young woman there—until it all comes to pass on a BART train platform on New Year's Day. A young black man is wrongfully killed by white police officers, a story that's all the more incredible for being painfully unremarkable. There will be many more days, and many more Oscar Grants. Jordan's likeability, warmth, and wit, his ability to play every moment like it's a day in the life, right up until it isn't, created a whole sunlit latticework for that brutal sledgehammer of an ending to smash right through. When Oscar's shocked and scared and yet somehow still warm and pleading, almost friendly yells of "You just shot me, bruh!" gasped out in that train station, I was a goner. I cried. My girlfriend sobbed uncontrollably. If there's any objective mark of an Oscar winner, this film and this performance incontrovertibly met it.

It's a shame that Fruitvale Station didn't find a lousier year to get released in. In Hollywood, buzz is a tangible thing that transcends merit. "Academy Award-nominated" is a label that changes careers. Michael B. Jordan will almost certainly get his one day—but in any other year, that day would've been today.




GQ

ONTD, what did you think of Fruitvale Station?

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Omg Wallace :( his final scene killed me

I came in here to say OMG HE WAS WALLACE, one of the best actors on the show, by far.

white ppl don't care for reminds of modern day racism. they love that slavery shit though.

I don't think it sucked, but I don't think he deserved an Oscar, he didn't transform the role, he didn't do this amazing acting, it was just a good role, nothing special about what he did to the role tbh. #notsorry

they do if they make them feel good/absolved at the end.

this. And everything about those movies deserve all the accolades and awards. And then we move on until the next.

~look how far we've come

i rented this movie for like $4.99 on ondemand and got half-way through
where can i watch this movie with a good movie link?

This song is a bop tho tbh...

I remember in HS after this happened (I'm from the bay area) one of my teachers was saying that oscar grant wasn't an "angel" like people would make you believe, he'd been in and out of jail, etc, so we shouldn't feel that bad for him. it was weird. but I'm also from a pretty conservative area sooo guess it's not too shocking.

Even in the movie he isn't portrayed as a saint or martyr. I can't believe people think murder is deserved to those who are imperfect.

MTE.

That's one of the things I liked about the movie, he wasn't painted as a saint of martyr.

it's thinly veiled racism, tbh. how often do we hear "oh he was arrested before, he deserved to die" about white men? it's always ~they could have had a good life~

kinda like how Trayvon Martin took pictures with his middle finger up, ic

My mom would say the same stuff (Bay Area native as well), and she didn't get why people were rioting over his death since "it was a mistake, and the cop was reaching for his taser". Bleh. I'm going to trick her into watching this movie.

Still can't get over Chad Michael Murray playing Mehserle.

Uhmm, IDK, I thought they potrayed his character as too much of a saint tbh. I felt like everything he did, rather it was getting into a fight or anything else made him as a person a saint, maybe not the things he did, but him as a person, which kind of made it feel unrealistic in a way. But still no matter what kind of person he was, he still didn;t deserve to be killed, so don't jump on me for that

Don't think it has anything to do with racism like the race martyrs above are implying. My former piano teacher's son was shot & killed in a park 5-6 years ago here in Toronto. Then, it turns out I knew a few of the people who knew the shooter & they said the same thing as your teacher. "well on the night he was shot, he had a taser in his backpack & he talked back to _____ so he wasn't innocent either." My teacher's son was white & an only child. Moral of the story: People are fucking idiots sometimes & it doesn't have anything to do with racism/sexism/etc.

Sounds like the same shit they said about Trayvon. My coverphoto on Facebook is of Trayvon and people commented on it saying that he wasn't as "innocent" as those photos indicated, posting pics of him with a gun and a weed plant. Like how the fuck does that change anything? An innocent person was killed.

Octavia absolutely deserved a nomination.

I'm still baffled as to why they released this movie in the summer.

seriously. harvey of all people should know the oscar timeline.

Because that's when they had the best chance of making money on it. The November/December season is completely glutted with higher profile movies than this, even in the indie sector.

But summer? I mean September/October was pretty quiet..

Yepp, I liked his acting, but wasn't impressed thaaat much. Octavia killed it though.

(Deleted comment)
yep it was released too early


I'd probably never watch it again because I cried too hard, but I liked it. It wasn't an exposé, just a 'day in the life' kind of thing.

ONTD, what did you think of Fruitvale Station?

I think the Weinsteins gave up on this movie early (they were pushing for it when it was limited/still on the festival circuit) and took the easy way out and put all their time into Julia/Meryl for August: Osage. Such a shame

The Weinsteins don't give up.

The movie had great buzz but it petered out early.

It happens every year.


I think it's so funny that ONTD wants to hold a grudge about the really bad comments that MBJ said but defends (or upholds) some of the questionable behavior of white male celebrities.

I side eye mbj but I do not hate him as I hate mark wahlberg or w/e, fassbender, sean penn, etc

but that's just me

Edited at 2014-01-17 12:41 am (UTC)

i'm not entire ONTD but i hate sexist celebrities no matter their race tbh :)))

The Film was Mediocre at best, even saying that feels like a lie.

good, keep your old fashioned sexist ass on the sidelines bitch...

that women should be in the kitchen and songs about homosexuality shouldnt exist.

he's just old school gawd!!!!!!!!111

It kind of reminds me of how everyone was talking award show buzz for Lizzie Olsen when MMMM came out and then it just died down.

It's really funny looking back at all the early Oscar talk going on in January. I remember some pundits saying Monuments Men would be a contender and then that flew out the window once the release date got moved to February of this year.

yeah not even a golden globe nom iirc

I always feel so bad when that happens to people. Lol. But there's always someone.

lmfao......noooooooooooooo

AUGH ALL OVER AGAIN SO FREAKING SAD

He was great in it. And Octavia too. Her scene in the end at the hospital killed me.

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