Golden Rule: Denzel Amazes as Roman J. Israel, But When Doesn’t He?

Leading up to the 90th Academy Awards on March 4th, we’re diving into as many of the nominated films as possible to look at their chances for taking home the Oscar. Today we’re looking at Roman J. Israel Esq., which is nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Denzel Washington).

Roman J. Israel Esq. follows the titular character, a lawyer and activist in Los Angeles. Roman works at a small law office where he prepares memos and briefs for every case the firm’s owner, William Jackson, takes. When William falls into a coma the law firm is torn apart and Roman ends up taking a job with one of William’s old students, played by Colin Ferrell. A turbulent series of events lead Roman’s life into chaos.

Washington does an amazing job playing Roman, cementing the argument that Washington always gives a perfect performance. I still don’t know that I would argue this role was his best. And while he likely deserves the nomination, I almost feel as though this slot could have been taken by another actor.

There’s a good chance that he was nominated this year for three very specific reasons. One, as an apology for not winning last year (HE. WAS. ROBBED). Two, the Academy wanted to make sure they had multiple Black men nominated for Best Actor. Three, he took James Franco’s spot.

James Franco could have been the actor to beat this year. But the sexual assault allegations against him came out and everything changed. The Disaster Artist only walked away with one nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. And it probably won’t win because it’s still tied to Franco. I honestly believe that the majority of the Academy decided to give it to Washington because of that. Washington won’t win this year. But at least he’s nominated.

Roman J. Israel Esq. is currently available on DVD, Digital and Blu-Ray. Be sure to keep following Poor Man’s Spoiler for all of our Oscar coverage. The Oscars air on ABC on March 4th at 8pm ET.

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