MadameNoire Featured Video
1 of 8

The Academy Awards are on Sunday! With Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer getting a lot of love for their work in The Help, we hope that it will be an easy win from them on the big day (but you know how the Academy can play folks). While we’re happy for their accolades, we’d also like to acknowledge a few other actresses whose roles should have garnered a lot more love from the allegedly majority white, male, old guys in the Academy. Just on a side note, some of these ladies weren’t even nominated, but their performances deserved some recognition in our eyes. These are just a few of our favorite picks, but feel free to share your own faves in the comments.

Whoopi Goldberg as Celie in The Color Purple

Lost to: Geraldine Page in The Trip to Bountiful

Not to stereotype, but I’m pretty sure most black folks have seen The Color Purple. While we can all attest to the fact that Steven Spielberg’s attempt to bring Alice Walker’s book to life was masterful, it got no love from the Academy, folks. It did rack up 11 nominations, but wound up being the “India Arie” (as Common would say) of the ’85 ceremonies, going home empty handed. While Oprah did transform big time in front of our eyes, presenting herself in a way we hadn’t seen before, I felt as though Whoopi gave a consistent and courageous performance as Celie. She went from a meek, abused an unloved wife, to an outspoken, pants wearing free woman. Whoopi would go on later to win an Academy Award for her work in the film Ghost, so I’m sure she’s not too pissed about this robbery.

Gabourey Sidibe as Claireece “Precious” Jones in Precious

Lost to: Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side

As much as this film made me want to curl up in the fetal position and cry at the idea of such a wave of hardships occurring to one person (one young woman at that), I think Precious was definitely a film everyone needed to see. And you can thank a lot of its success and awesome-ness to Sidibe. We were happy when she was happy, we were downtrodden and miserable when she was, and we were ready to strike a mofo when she was. A newbie on the acting scene, you wouldn’t have believed Sidibe just started acting when watching Precious. Mo’Nique did win for her turn as crazy a** mother Mary Lee Johnston, and screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher won for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2009, but no gold (or whatever metal that is) for Sidibe. She will have to just be happy with the fact that for her first real time on film, she ended up going for an award versus Meryl Streep of all people!

Regina King as Margie Hendricks in Ray

Lost to: Wasn’t even nominated…smh

Uh, can I ask where Regina King’s nomination for Best Supporting Actress went to? Her turn as Margie Hendricks, Ray Charles’ background singing, drug addicted, and love obsessed mistress was almost as magnifying as Jamie Foxx playing Ray, himself. Foxx won Oscar gold for Best Actor, and the film received an Oscar for sound mixing…but that was it. I loved every minute of King’s performance (the good, the bad and the ugly) and wished she would have been recognized. A truly underrated actress.

Kim Wayans as Audrey in Pariah

Lost to: Wasn’t even nominated…smh

Sure, actress Adepero Oduye was pretty amazing as protagonist Alike, but Keenan’s little sister was killing the game as the stuck in denial mother, Audrey. In an attempt to help her daughter move out of a “stage” that included hanging with people she found suspect, Wayans was at times nurturing but also pretty brutal as Audrey. Her character did this while at the same time, attempting to make sense of her up-in-the-air marriage and putting on a front for the community. I was truly captivated by Wayans’ performance, and was pretty disappointed to see that the film in general and all its players were ignored by the Academy for this year’s awards.

Angela Bassett as Anna Mae Bullock/Tina Turner in What’s Love Got to Do With?

Lost to: Holly Hunter in The Piano

C’mon, ’93 was supposed to be Angela’s year! And it still was, but she still should have picked up best actress for her role in What’s Love Got to Do With It?  This was another film I’m pretty sure black folks know every line to–must I do the “Eat the cake” scene for you? Angela mastered the dance moves, the mannerisms of Tina, and also the damn legs and arms of that woman! She was absolutely amazing in this role and should have walked away with a little golden man in her hand. However, I’m hoping Bassett will get her just dues soon, because she’s too incredible to keep getting ignored like this.

Thandie Newton as Christine in Crash

Lost to: Wasn’t even nominated…smh

Sure, no one was on-screen in this film for enough time for you to fully praise their performances, but if Matt Dillon could garner a nomination for his turn as a shady and racist cop in Crash, so could our sista-girl. Newton shined oh-so bright in her turn as the wife of a TV director whose world is turned upside down after being assaulted by a police officer. Her flip from pure rage at her husband (played by Terence Howard) for not doing enough to help her and her sadness and paranoia about the whole situation provided some truly captivating scenes to watch. Another very underrated lady, so I wasn’t THAT surprised when her performance was overlooked.

Kimberly Elise as Crystal Wallace/Lady in Brown in For Colored Girls

Lost to: Wasn’t even nominated…smh

Talk about a chick going through some heavy stuff. Crystal’s story damn near rivaled Precious’ for most sorrowful. And I believed her pain, which is definitely the sign of a pretty powerful actress. I’ve always been a fan of Elise’s work, but I felt this was possibly her deepest role in a while, and in a huge ensemble cast who gave pretty stirring performances, it’s very telling when you can stand out like she did. Nobody can turn up her face and do pain like Ms. Elise, ya’ll!


Taraji P. Henson as Shug in Hustle & Flow

Lost to: Wasn’t even nominated…smh

Truth be told, Henson isn’t as underrated as she thinks she is. She’s been recognized for her work and applauded more than most black actresses of this time, and even garnered an Academy Award nomination for her work as Queenie in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. However, I really loved the Howard University grad as Shug in the movie about a pimp and his dream–to be a rapper (yikes!). Pregnant with…well, somebody’s baby, Shug was very friendly, an all around sweet woman and at times, heartbreaking. The fact that she cared so much for DJay, her pimp, and also the fact that she was pretty much stuck in a less than ideal situation with her baby (and her pimp) just made her so much more beguiling. No nomination for this work, but if the Academy needed a sixth nominee in 2006, she should have been an easy pick.

Whose performance would you add to the list?

More on Madame Noire!

Comment Disclaimer: Comments that contain profane or derogatory language, video links or exceed 200 words will require approval by a moderator before appearing in the comment section. XOXO-MN