Ruth Negga’s Oscar Snub Underscores Hollywood’s Frustrating Indifference to Her Work

Rebecca Hall’s debut feature Passing was completely snubbed at the Oscars. That means that Ruth Negga received no nominations for her nuanced, conflicted performance as the carefree but weighed down with cares Clare Bellew, a Black woman passing as white in the 1920s.

As a Negga fan, I was disappointed but not exactly surprised. She’s received some accolades—notably for her wonderful turn as Mildred Loving in the 2016 biopic about the groundbreaking Virginia interracial marriage case.

But considering her talent and her range (she’s played Hamlet and Lady Macbeth on the stage), the level of indifference to her work has been frustrating.

That’s nowhere more true than in her portrayal of Tulip O’Hare in AMC’s Preacher, which aired for four seasons from 2016 to 2019. Preacher was wonderfully acted and written, often improving on its source material. .

But the liberties it took with the Garth Ennis/Steve Dillon comic, AMC’s relative unhipness, and perhaps just bad luck, prevented it from garnering much in the way of critical or commercial attention, even in geek space

As a result, almost nobody ever talks about Negga’s amazing performance—to my mind, the single best action hero portrayal since Pam Grier in Jackie Brown (1997).