The Last Day of Oscar Grant
"If Today Was Your Last Day"
Before Jordan Davis, before Renisha McBride, even before Trayvon Martin there was Oscar Grant. The young man who was shot and killed by a Bay Area Rapid Transit officer on New Year's Day 2009. The acclaimed independent film Fruitvale Station takes a look at the events of what would be Oscar's last day on Earth.
An Ordinary Day
The film traces the events of that fateful day, from when Oscar wakes up to when he is killed. The film's "day in the life" format may remind some people of Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing.
As the film unfolds, we see Oscar as a man who has made mistakes. In one flashback scene, he is shown to have done time, lilkely for marijuana possession or distribution. But he also wants to "go straight", in one other scene he is shown dumping out a Ziploc bag full of marijuana and also tries to get a job back at a grocery store.
He's shown to be devoted to his family. He picks up his daughter at daycare, and attends his Mom's birthday party. This devotion extends to his friends and others as well; he calls his Grandmother to have her give a complete stranger advice on how to fry fish, and talks a shop owner into letting some friends and a stranger use the restroom.
The Beginning of The End
Oscar was on his way back from celebrating New Year's Day in San Francisco. In the film, a fight breaks out in a train car between Oscar and a former inmate who has a beef with Oscar leads to the Transit Police intervening. In the course of rounding up and arresting the suspects, the police attempt to handcuff Oscar. In the course of this, Oscar is fatally shot in the back.
According to the end notes for the film, the officer alleged that he was reaching for a taser and inadvertently grabbed his firearm.
While the movie has won several awards, including a a Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, it received no Oscar Nominations in the major categories. It would seem that this film is the kind of independent production that the Academy has looked towards in the past.
Could part of it have to with The Butler? Could the Academy have feared the controversy when Driving Miss Daisy was up against Do The Right Thing.
I think it may have more to do with the Academy not wanting to get caught up in the debate over how "post-racial" America is. Where though we elect a African-American president, we seem to have declared open season on minorities.