You say the acting Oscars are lily-white this year because there were no deserving performances by African-Americans? Here are a dozen arguments that say otherwise. Whether or not these actors should have been nominated, they at least should have been a bigger part of the conversation — or a part of it at all.
Michael B. Jordan. Jordan and director Ryan Coogler did something no one thought possible: made a “Rocky” movie we could take seriously again. The star’s fierce, internalized performance drives “Creed.”
Will Smith. How good is Smith as the Nigerian-born forensic pathologist Bennet Omalu in “Concussion”? For maybe the first time in his career, you forget you’re watching Will Smith.
Samuel L. Jackson. His Major Marquis Warren, badass bounty hunter, is the canny linchpin of Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight.” Is this the most joyously confident actor alive?
O’Shea Jackson Jr. and/or Jason Mitchell. Mitchell, as Eazy-E, provides the sparks to “Straight Outta Compton,” and Jackson, playing his own dad (the rapper Ice Cube), brings the gravitas. Lead performances, supporting performances, either or both? Who cares — just nominate somebody.
Teyonah Parris. “Chi-Raq,” Spike Lee’s incendiary update on “Lysistrata,” is hardly Oscar bait — it lives to provoke — but Parris rules over the movie like a powerful young queen.
Kitana Kiki Rodriguez. Could the trans actress’s electric performance as a trans hooker in the no-budget comedy-drama “Tangerine” really be nominated for an Oscar? On another planet, maybe. A better one.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Idris Elba. His performance as a vicious African warlord in “Beasts of No Nation” has been nominated by just about everyone but the Academy.
Donald Glover. Admit it: The most loopily wonderful scene in “The Martian” is when Glover’s deep-math wonk shows the NASA brass how to bring Matt Damon home — demonstrating his theory with a stapler and a pen.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Jada Pinkett Smith. Why didn’t Smith get any Oscar love for her rich, regal playing of a male-strip-club impresario in “Magic Mike XXL”? Oh, right, because she was playing a male-strip-club impresario.
Mya Taylor. The extra-long-suffering best friend in “Tangerine.” See Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, above.
Tessa Thompson. How many actresses would have turned Bianca in “Creed” into just another adoring-girlfriend role? Thompson doesn’t just make the character her own woman — she convinces you Bianca should star in her own movie.