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7 Reasons Michael B. Jordan Should Be an Oscar Nominee, But Should Have Already Won an Emmy

7 Reasons Michael B. Jordan Should Be an Oscar Nominee, But Should Have Already Won an Emmy

At Monday’s AMPAS lunch for this year’s batch of Oscar nominees, “Creed” co-star Sylvester Stallone said he offered to boycott the Academy Awards ceremony to protest the exclusion of his co-star, Michael B. Jordan, director Ryan Coogler and a wide array of other diverse candidates who didn’t make the short-list. “I remember I spoke with Ryan Coogler when this happened and I said, ‘How do you want to handle this? Because I feel like you are responsible for me being here.’ [… ] I said, ”If you don’t want me to go, I won’t.’ He said, ‘I want you to go.’ That’s the kind of guy he is. […] He wanted me to stand up for the film.”

READ MORE: Indiewire Awards Spotlight Honoree Michael B. Jordan, Star of ‘Fruitvale Station,’ Talks About the Real Oscar Grant

While we agree with Coogler’s sentiments (and are hoping to see Stallone take home his well-deserved gold), at the front and center of “Creed” is Michael B. Jordan, a towering presence of charisma, character and class. As the titular Adonis Creed, Jordan goes on an emotionally taxing journey of self-discovery, exerting impressive self-discipline while remaining authentically flawed. The young actor carries his character along with the command of a seasoned vet; very much like Stallone does with Rocky Balboa, now in his seventh film as the beloved boxer. But Jordan didn’t have the years of history to prepare him for the part or the experience to fall back on in the more difficult scenes. 

Still, he does have a history. Even if Jordan is a fresh face to Academy voters (one of the reasons some cite for his exclusion), he’s built up quite the resume already — on the small screen. In fact, he’s been so good in so many roles over the past 15 years or so, it’s shocking he hasn’t been recognized by television’s most prestigious voting body. So in honor of Jordan’s accomplishments (and his 29th birthday this past Tuesday), let’s look back at a body of work any champ would be proud to call his own — at any age.

Wallace – “The Wire

Performance: Whether you’ve been tracing his career from the start or fondly recognized the face upon discovering him later on, Jordan’s career began with a bang; one of the saddest shots ever fired on “The Wire,” but also one of the most crucial to its story. As Wallace, a conflicted pawn in the Barksdale organization who tries and fails to get out of the game, Jordan had to deal with issues no one wishes on a 16-year-old kid, even as an actor. He made Wallace’s plight painfully real to us all, and played a considerable part in the character’s lasting legacy. 

Eligible Award(s): Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Deserving? Absolutely, though considering that year his competition consisted of heavyweights from “The Sopranos” (eventual winner Joe Pantoliano and Michael Imperioli) and “The West Wing” (John Spencer and Bradley Whitford), it’s understandable that Jordan was overlooked in 2003. Personally, though, we would have given him an edge over Victor Garber for “Alias.” 

Reggie Porter Montgomery – “All My Children”

Performance: As a poor kid adopted into a rich family, Jordan got to portray just about every emotion out there in his 52 episodes of “All My Children.” From rebellious anger to conflicted loyalty to heartfelt loss and even romantic tension, Reggie was as complex a character as can be expected of anyone who lasts longer than a season on a soap opera. He was a natural, too, earning a recurring spot in the cast over the course of four years. 

Eligible Award(s): Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Younger Actor in a Drama Series

Deserving? Of course! Even conceding his first two seasons to David Lago (“The Young and the Restless”), who finally took home his long overdue trophy in 2005, Jordan still had two strong years to snag a win — or at least a nod! Instead, he was overshadowed by perennial nominees Tom Pelphrey (“Guiding Light”) and Bryton James (“The Young and the Restless”). Looking back, it’s clear who was the stronger actor, but you can’t rewrite history.

Vince Howard – “Friday Night Lights

Performance: Ah, Vince Howard. Coach Taylor’s secret weapon, prized project and all-around decent young man came to be as beloved as any member of the “Friday Night Lights” cast, despite beginning in Season 4. His entrance marked a transition for the former coach of the Dillon Panthers and the show itself, as original cast members headed to college or started careers outside the football bubble of central Texas and Mr. and Mrs. Coach started new jobs on the other side of the tracks. Jordan was not only a convincing athlete but a dynamic screen presence; bursting with passion and carrying just enough swagger to make you believe a team would fall in line behind him. Between “The Wire” and “Friday Night Lights,” Jordan cemented his acting legacy on television (even if he didn’t go on to become a bonafide big screen leading man).

Eligible Award(s): Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Deserving? Of the 10 nominated performers over Jordan’s two eligible seasons, I’d say about seven were well-deserved, unquestionable nods, including winners Aaron Paul (“Breaking Bad”) in 2010 and Peter Dinklage (“Game of Thrones”) in 2011. So he was in a tight race, for sure. That being said, only two nominees in those two years weren’t white, and they were the same guy — Andre Braugher for “Men of a Certain Age.” Now, we’re as big of fans of Braugher as you’ll meet (especially for his current hit, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”), but Vince Howard blew him out of the water dramatically. While swapping out Jordan for Braugher wouldn’t have increased diversity at all, he certainly out-acted Martin Short in “Damages” (nowhere near as memorable a turn as Jordan’s in “Friday Night Lights”). 

Alex – “Parenthood”

Performance: Saddled with a dark past that never really creeps to life in the present, Jordan’s Alex is the do-gooder boyfriend of Haddie (Sarah Ramos), who runs a local soup kitchen. Despite a squeaky clean track record since meeting their daughter, Haddie’s parents disapprove of the recovering alcoholic, who’s three years too old to date their first born child. Alex is the more self-assured member of the young couple, making his emotional arc less varied than his partner’s. Still, Alex is one fine looking young man — inside and out — and Jordan plays up both sides quite well.

Eligible Award(s): Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series

Deserving? There are some holes in the nominations list — including Paul McCrane for the inexplicably cherished “Harry’s Law” — but Jordan’s role on “Parenthood” wasn’t substantial enough to justify sneaking into this race. He did some fine work here, but he was more eye candy than eye-opening in this one.

Will Westwood – “House M.D.”


Jordan said his role as the “visually impaired” Will Westwood on “House” was one of his most challenging roles up to that point in his career, and he prepared accordingly by studying Al Pacino in “Scent of a Woman” and Jamie Foxx in “Ray” for his guest spot on the Fox medical drama. Considering the extremes to which some of the guest arcs can go on “House,” the fact that Jordan took it seriously enough to keep his performance from crossing over into “cheesy” territory speaks volumes to how he became such a good actor. 

Eligible Award(s): Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series

Deserving? Jordan’s one-episode arc on “House” may not compare to his legendary turns on “The Wire” or “Friday Night Lights,” but it might be his most inexcusable snub at the Emmys. Looking at the six actual nominees — Jeremy Davies (“Justified”), Dylan Baker (“The Good Wife”), Ben Feldman (“Mad Men”), Michael J. Fox (“The Good Wife”), Mark Margolis (“Breaking Bad”) and Jason Ritter (“Parenthood”) — it’s clear voters went with their favorite shows rather than the best performances (which could be explained by Fox not submitting Jordan’s episode for consideration). Fox, Feldman and arguably Margolis (as the mute druglord Tio Salamanca) may have justified their nods, but the rest feel like fillers — and Davies was your winner! Come on! Give it to Jordan, already. 

Oscar Grant – “Fruitvale Station”

Playing a real person can be challenging for a young actor and especially intimidating when that person is deceased. Pitfalls exist in portraying that person accurately without imitation, honestly and gracefully. As Oscar Grant, the unarmed Oakland native fatally shot by a police officer in 2009, Jordan was given his most complex, difficult test to date, and he passed with flying colors. The film itself won the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at Sundance, and Jordan helped bring the story to life with a nuanced realization of an individual’s final hours. Never did his performance jump ahead of the moment, as Jordan kept Oscar grounded in the reality of his current situation instead of trying to foreshadow events to come.  

Eligible Award(s): Best Actor in a Motion Picture

Deserving? Perhaps (or at least hopefully) the first film to expose Oscar voters to the big screen talent of Mr. Jordan, “Fruitvale Station” came hot out of Sundance ready to make a major run through awards season. Sadly, the film just didn’t catch on with audiences or precursors, leaving it empty-handed come Oscar morning. Jordan was boxed out of a Best Actor race many initially thought he’d break into, losing out to frontrunners like Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Wolf of Wall Street”), Chiwetel Ejiofor (“12 Years a Slave”) and eventual winner Matthew McConaughey (“Dallas Buyers Club”). Was his turn better than Bruce Dern’s in “Nebraska” or more vital than Christian Bale’s in “American Hustle”? Perhaps, but this was one helluva year to try to bust in.

Adonis Creed – “Creed”

Performance: Perhaps the trickiest aspect of playing Adonis is masking what’s on the inside while being utterly transparent on the outside. Throughout the film, Adonis is clear with his intentions and straightforward in his actions. He does what he says, moving from his mother’s lush LA mansion to train in obscurity out East; fighting under the name Johnson to prove he’s the real deal rather than trading off his father’s name; going to Rocky with the truth, right out of the gate, in order to earn his trust as a trainer. Yet underneath all of his apparent openness is a heavy secret he’s unable to confront until the right before the final round of his title fight. It’s in that moment that Adonis — and Jordan — win us over entirely, as his character’s complexity comes full circle.

Eligible Award(s): Best Actor in a Motion Picture

Deserving? Honestly, you could make a case for Jordan over just about any of the actual nominees — especially if you buy into the argument that DiCaprio is basically screaming and grunting his way to an Academy Award. But more important than whether or not Jordan is objectively “better” than these other actors is that he’s undoubtedly and inarguably their equal this year. His name and his film are deserving of the Oscar spotlight because of his performance, and the only comfort we can take from his absence is knowing that next time — and there will be a next time — there’s simply no way he can be ignored.

READ MORE: 8 Reasons Sylvester Stallone Could and Should Win an Oscar For ‘Creed’

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