Both LaKeith Stanfield and Daniel Kaluuya picked up Oscar nominations for “Judas and the Black Messiah” on Monday morning. However, both nominations came in the Best Actor in a Supporting Role category. Stanfield and Kaluuya‘s performances in “Judas and the Black Messiah” were undoubtable some of the best of 2020. However, wasn’t LaKeith Stanfield the main character in the film?
The Rise of LaKeith Stanfield
If there is any actor deserving of an Oscar nomination it’s LaKeith Stanfield. He has steadily been one of the best actors in the industry since he debuted in “Short Term 12” back in 2013. After also starring in the short film, Stanfield reprised his role in the feature length adaptation. He filled his performance of Marcus, a soon to be 18 year old struggling to leave the group home, with an incredible amount of depth and emotion.
Soon thereafter, Stanfield gave great supporting performances every year. From “Selma,” to “Dope” to “Straight Outta Compton,” audiences could see Stanfield improve with each role. In 2016, Stanfield’s breakout performance in Donald Glover‘s “Atlanta” boosted him to international stardom. His role as Darius acts as the comedic relief in what is already a hilarious comedy. However, Stanfield’s performance of Darius’ world view is so captivating.
2017’s “Get Out” saw Stanfield first team up with Kaluuya. Stanfield’s character is kidnapped in the first scene of the film and later yells the titular lines at Kaluuya as a warning during the midpoint. While “Get Out” earned Kaluuya his first Oscar nod, it also became another great film on Stanfield’s resume.
Stanfield proved he could be a great leading man in 2018. The releases of “Sorry to Bother You” and the “Teddy Perkins” episode of “Atlanta” saw Stanfield thrive in the drivers seat. Stanfield expertly balanced comedy and drama in both roles, resulting in two of the best releases of 2018.
When he returned to supporting roles in 2019’s “Uncut Gems” and “Knives Out” he did so with the experience of being a leading man. And as a result he held his own against fellow great actors and dominated the scenes he was in.
Judas and the Black Messiah
When “Judas and the Black Messiah” was released I was ecstatic. Finally, another film where Stanfield can shine as the lead actor. And I wasn’t disappointed. His performance in the film is incredible and he was indeed the lead actor. His character, Bill O’Neal, a FBI informant who infiltrates the Black Panthers, appears in nearly every scene. The film begins with a recreation of an interview with Bill and ends with the actual interview. The film tells the story of what lead to the betrayal and murder of Fred Hampton. However, it does so through the point of view of Bill, the betrayer. The Judas.
While Stanfield and Kaluuya were both terrific in this film, they were not both supporting actors. LaKeith Stanfield was the lead actor and should’ve been nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role at this year’s Oscars.