'Beasts,' 'Flight,' 'Django' lead NAACP Image Award nominees, 'Middle of Nowhere' sidelined

The only ceremony where you'll see Tyler Perry competing with Suraj Sharma

<p>Emayatzy Corinealdi and David Oyelowo scored nods for &quot;Middle of Nowhere,&quot; but where is the film in the Best Picture field?</p>

Emayatzy Corinealdi and David Oyelowo scored nods for "Middle of Nowhere," but where is the film in the Best Picture field?

Credit: AAFRM

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I must confess I don't really get the NAACP Image Awards. On the one hand, the idea of an awards show dedicated specifically to honoring non-white achievements in popular culture seems uncomfortably self-marginalizing in this day and age. On the other, the unhappy truth is that non-white artists and stories are still marginalized in Hollywood, so there's something to be said for a ceremony that celebrates the finest talent the community has to offer.

Why, then, does the NAACP routinely do such a poor job of recognizing that very talent for themselves? This year's list of Image nominees is led by three crossover features with substantial African-American leads (all, incidentally, from white filmmakers): "Beasts of the Southern Wild," "Django Unchained" and "Flight" nabbed four nominations each. Where, however, is "Middle of Nowhere?"

The shoestring character drama from African-American writer-director Ava DuVernay has emerged as one of the year's most critically championed true indies since winning DuVernay the Directing Award at Sundance this year, and recently racked up four Independent Spirit nominations, but is scarcely in evidence here. While actors Emayatzy Corinealdi and David Oyelowo (though not the scorching Lorraine Toussaint) picked up nominations for their performances, the film is missing from the Best Picture lineup because... "Red Tails" was so universally well-liked? Tyler Perry needs a boost? I'm at a loss here, particularly when the film is even more unaccountably missing from the Best Independent Film lineup.

How does this help the NAACP's cause? It's best not to think too hard about it, and enjoy the curiosity value of what will surely remain the only awards body to lump "Life of Pi" newcomer Suraj Sharma and Tyler Perry (again) together for Best Actor. Check out the full list of nominations below, and catch up with the season's awards announcements so far at The Circuit

Best Picture
"Beasts of the Southern Wild"
"Django Unchained"
"Flight"
"Red Tails"
"Tyler Perry's Good Deeds"

Best Actor
Jamie Foxx, "Django Unchained"
Morgan Freeman, "The Magic of Belle Isle"
Tyler Perry, "Alex Cross"
Suraj Sharma, "Life of Pi"


Denzel Washington, "Flight" 

Best Actress
Halle Berry, "Cloud Atlas"
Emayatzy Corinealdi, "Middle of Nowhere" 
Viola Davis, "Won't Back Down"
Loretta Devine, "In The Hive"
Quvenzhané Wallis, "Beasts of the Southern Wild" 

Best Supporting Actor
Don Cheadle, "Flight"
Dwight Henry, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
Samuel L. Jackson, "Django Unchained"
Lenny Kravitz, "The Hunger Games"
David Oyelowo, "Middle of Nowhere" 

Best Supporting Actress 
Taraji P. Henson, "Think Like a Man"
Phylicia Rashad, "Tyler Perry's Good Deeds" 
Gloria Reuben, "Lincoln"
Amandla Stenberg, "The Hunger Games"
Kerry Washington, "Django Unchained" 

Best Independent Motion Picture
"Beasts of the Southern Wild"
"Chico & Rita"
"Red Tails"
"Unconditional"
"Woman Thou Art Loosed: On the 7th Day"

Best International Motion Picture
"Chico & Rita"
"For Greater Glory: The True Story of Cristiada"
"The Intouchables"
"The Raid: Redemption" 
"Special Forces"

Best Documentary (TV or Film)
"Black Wings"
"Brooklyn Castle"
"First Position"
"Marley"
"On the Shoulders of Giants - The Story of the Greatest Team You've Never Heard Of" 

Best Writing (TV or Film)
Elizabeth Hunter, "Abducted: The Carlina White Story"
John Gatins, "Flight"
John Ridley, Aaron McGruder, "Red Tails"
Keith Merryman, David A. Newman, "Think Like a Man"
Ol Parker, "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"

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Guy Lodge
Critic
Guy Lodge is a South African-born critic and sometime screenwriter. In addition to his work at In Contention, he is a freelance contributor to Variety, Time Out, Empire and The Guardian. He lives well beyond his means in London.
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UPDATED: MARCH 2, 2014