UNLAWFUL SEIZURE: Fruitvale Station, despite tremendous praise from just about everyone who saw it, received exactly zero Oscar nominations.

UNLAWFUL SEIZURE: Fruitvale Station, despite tremendous praise from just about everyone who saw it, received exactly zero Oscar nominations. Photo courtesy The Weinstein Company

Every year as the nominees for the Golden Globes and the Oscars come out, there are movies that are wholly forgotten. Good movies, in fact. And time and time again, they get as much consideration as, well, Grown Ups 2 (good lord, that was an awful movie). It happens so regularly that it should be added to that age-old addage about the things certain in life. Death and taxes. And great film snubbery.

This year that unfortunate honor falls on Fruitvale Station. Premiering at Sundance last January and opening for wide release in July, Fruitvale Station told the story of Oscar Grant during his last day alive before being shot and killed by BART Police officers in the early hours of New Year’s Day 2009.

What’s so brilliant is the extent of objectivity that Ryan Coogler, who wrote and directed the film, gives the story. This is not a polish peace glorifying a young man who was shot while in handcuffs, nor is it an assault on the man, portraying him as an ex-con who “got what he got”.

Fruitvale Station PosterInstead, what Ryan Coogler shows is a flawed hero, someone just about everyone can relate to. Someone that, as hard as he tries to do well, sometimes just can’t get out of his own way. Bereft of almost any political commentary on such a heated subject, it’s candor goes right up there with The Hurt Locker, ironically the last Best Picture Winner before Oscar Grant’s death.

On GuysNation’s sister website, Half Popped Reviews, Fruitvale Station is 4th amongst the site’s reviewers. Yet, as the Oscars rolled out its nominees for 2013, Fruitvale Station got squat. Not just snubbed from being nominated for Best Picture, which nine films did, but left out of ANY nomination whatsoever.

For crying out loud, even The Lone Ranger got nominated for something.

Amongst the nine Best Picture nominees this year, the lowest-rated on Half-Popped Reviews is Philomena (ranked 62nd only THIS year). On Metascore, which compiles critics’ reviews of movies, Fruitvale Station scored an 85 out of 100. Philomena? 76. On Rotten Tomatoes, Philomena got 92%, an admittedly impressive score. but you know what got 94%? You guessed it, Fruitvale Station.

And don’t think I’m just picking on that one movie. Captain Phillips (which I personally liked MORE than Fruitvale Station, by the way), Dallas Buyers Club, and The Wolf of Wall Street, all nominated for Best Picture, all scored lower than Fruitvale Station on Metascore. Rotten Tomatoes? Same story, and on there you can also add American Hustle, Nebraska, and Her.

Count it up. That means of the nine Best Picture Nominees, only two scored better than Fruitvale Station. Those would be Gravity and 12 Years a Slave.

So what gives? What was so awful about Fruitvale Station that it deserved absolutely no Oscar consideration? Is it not as “artsy” as Blue Jasmine and Nebraska? Whatever. Does it not have eye-dropping special effects like Star Trek Into Darkness or Iron Man 3? Fine.

DUE PROCESS: Octavia Spencer, not new to the Academy Awards, will have to watch this year's show from a seat much farther away than deserved. Photo courtesy The Weinstein Company

DUE PROCESS: Octavia Spencer, not new to the Academy Awards, will have to watch this year’s show from a seat much farther away than deserved. Photo courtesy The Weinstein Company

But Fruitvale Station deserved some kind — any kind — of nomination. How about acting? Michael B. Jordan and Octavia Spencer, who already has one Oscar, by the way, were astounding. Direction? I dare you to find a reason that David O. Russell (for American Hustle) and Alfonso Cuaron (for Gravity) should be up there and Ryan Coogler shouldn’t. Screenplay? Admittedly, I don’t know if it would be adapted or original, but it could easily beat out the weaker nominees in both.

In fact, Fruitvale Station’s only sin appears to be that it’s good at everything rather than excelling at just one thing. Maybe if Coogler commissioned someone to give it an original soundtrack it would win Original Song. Or what if he had Michael B. Jordan and Melonie Diaz dressed up in crazy, Hunger Games-esque outfits? Could they then get nominated for Costume Design? Or what if they had foregone a dramatization altogether and just made a documentary about the incident? Surely they could beat out Cutie and the Boxer or The Square.

What I’m not saying here is that Fruitvale Station was the best film of 2013, or that Michael B. Jordan was the best actor, Octavia Spencer was the best supporting actress, and Ryan Coogler was the best director. What I am saying is that Fruitvale Station, based on its merits, absolutely deserved to have those conversations.

However, in the eyes of the 86th Academy Awards, anyways, that is not going to be the case.

And for that, Fruitvale Station does win one award handed down by yours truly.

And that is Snub of the Year.


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