Just a little under a year ago, Fruitvale Station—then titled simply, Fruitvale—made waves when it and its young director Ryan Coogler won the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. The accolades that emerged from the festival were overwhelmingly positive, and unsurprisingly, future awards predictions began to emerge almost instantly.
Oscar talk circled around again at the time of its release in July, this time much more loudly, with many suggesting that stars Michael B. Jordan, Octavia Spencer, and Coogler were serious contenders for nominations. But despite faring well on the awards circuit overall, Fruitvale Station’s buzz peaked early and quietly ran out of steam by the time Oscar season was in full swing. Though the movie appeared on many critics’ top 10 lists, it failed to garner any Golden Globe nominations or Oscar nods.
Terrific movies are overlooked every year, of course. But the snub of Fruitvale is particularly disappointing. Unlike most of the films appearing among the Best Picture nominees, this one speaks directly to the complexities of the here and now: It was just five years ago that Oscar Grant, the subject of Coogler’s moving character study, was shot and killed by a Bay Area Rapid Transit officer, and the film’s release coincided eerily with the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin.