In the storied history of the Black Reel Awards, there has only been one year that no award ceremony was held. The year was 2008, which we now refer to as the “Lost Year.” We take a look back at some of the films from that year that we didn’t get an opportunity to acknowledge.
There were several films from 2008 that would have surely been major awards contenders. Among that group were American Gangster, This Christmas, The Great Debaters, Black Snake Moan, Talk To Me, I Think I Love My Wife and Why Did I Get Married. Other candidates that year included Illegal Tender, Who’s Your Caddy, Daddy’s Little Girls, Pride and Norbit.
What makes the omission of a ceremony so egregious is it robbed us of the opportunity to salute so many worthy films and performances from that year. Case in point, Denzel Washington has been nominated on 14 occasions. His strong lead performance in American Gangster as well as his supporting performance in The Great Debaters would have been strongly considered, as well as his directing effort in the same film.
Let’s not forget Don Cheadle as Petey Green in Talk To Me, Will Smith’s futuristic drama, I Am Legend, Samuel L. Jackson in the bluesy drama, Black Snake Moan, Jamie Foxx in the Middle Eastern drama, The Kingdom, Terrance Howard in and Danny Glover as the proprietor of a juke joint in Honeydripper.
The ladies didn’t disappoint that cinematically that year either with several strong performances including Halle Berry in two films, first as a seductress in Perfect Stranger and later as a despondent woman in Things We Lost in the Fire, Gabrielle Union as a lawyer who finds love for her client in Daddy’s Little Girls, sexy Kerry Washington who seduced a married Chris Rock in I Think I Love My Wife, a vengeful Regina King in the holiday favorite, This Christmas and a fiery Wanda DeJesus in the drama, Illegal Tender.
The year featured a bevy of supporting performances from a slew of actors and actresses. Some of the notables were Cheadle in Reign Over Me, Chiwetel Ejiofor in Talk to Me, Morgan Freeman in Gone Baby Gone, Forest Whitaker in The Great Debaters, Common in Smokin’ Aces, LL Cool J in Slow Burn, Bernie Mac in Pride and Cuba Gooding, Jr. in American Gangster. Meanwhile, Taraji P. Henson sparkled in two films, Talk To Me and Smokin’ Aces, Sharon Leal did dual work as well in This Christmas and Why Did I Get Married. Gina Torres was solid in I Think I Love My Wife, Alicia Keys brought the heat in Smokin’ Aces, Ruby Dee secured an Oscar nomination in American Gangster, Queen Latifah was the conscious of Hairspray and Jurnee Smollet was electric as a young student coming into her own in The Great Debaters.
The directing category featured Tyler Perry with two popular films, Why Did I Get Married and Daddy’s Little Girls, Rock’s interesting turn in I Think I Love My Wife, Kasi Lemmons with Talk To Me, Frank Reyes with the urban crime drama, Illegal Tender and the aforementioned Washington with The Great Debaters. Notable Breakthrough Performance nominees included Keys in Smokin’ Aces, Sydney Poitier in Grindhouse: Death Proof, Tasha Smith in Why Did I Get Married, Evan Ross in Pride and Elijah Kelley in Hairspray.
Examining the films and performances, one could only wonder what might have been. The majority of the potential nominees overlooked during the lost year have resurfaced and have received acknowledgement from the Black Reels for other performances in subsequent ceremonies. For the actors or filmmakers who continue to toil in anonymity, your work may have gone unnoticed in 2008 but trust us, we hear you – loud and clear!!!
Check out a gallery of some of the best performances and films from 2008 below: