Stars Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne left it all on the floor as Ike and Tina, but Academy voters didn't seem to care.

Given the wild variables of timing, industry politics, and personal taste, the Academy will always swing how it may. What's fair got to do with it? Still, the Oscar-night shutout of late director Brian Gibson's electrifying 1993 Tina Turner biopic feels no less raw some 30 years on — not least because it garnered just two nods total, for the outstanding performances of its leads.

As the little girl with the huge voice born Anna Mae Bullock, Angela Bassett — who, legend has it, landed the job over the likes of Halle Berry, Janet Jackson, Robin Givens, and Pam Grier just a month before production began — had mere weeks to prepare. Laurence Fishburne, on the other hand, repeatedly turned down the role of Ike Turner, the man who would give Tina her name and for nearly two decades essentially hold her hostage in a relationship so rife with physical, mental, and sexual abuse that his villainy came to define their story even more, some might argue, than the music.

Angela Bassett in 'What's Love Got to Do With It'
| Credit: Everett Collection

It's all there in movie: the blood and bruises and even a brutalizing intimate-partner rape scene. But so is the transcendent talent and joy of Tina as a performer (just try to watch that "River Deep, Mountain High" scene in Phil Spector's studio and not get several kinds of chills). To be fair, both actors had the misfortune of landing in an especially strong year, one dominated by films like Schindler's ListPhiladelphia, and The Fugitive. Fishburne, who brings pathos and nuance and real terror to what could easily have been a cartoon-heavy role — let's not even begin to talk about the jumpsuits — likely never stood a chance against Tom Hanks' crusading AIDS patient.

Holly Hunter's win for her ferocious, largely wordless performance as a mute mail-order bride in Jane Campion's art-house drama The Piano is also hard to fault on its own standing. Still, it's impossible to think that Bassett earned almost nothing beyond the 1994 Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy, so completely does she burn down the screen as a woman fighting for her family, her artistry, her dignity, and ultimately, her life. In a crowded field, her Tina was simply the best; Hollywood just didn't see it.

EW's countdown to the 2022 Oscars has everything you're looking for, from our expert predictions and in-depth Awardist interviews with this year's nominees to nostalgia and our takes on the movies and actors we wish had gotten more Oscars love. You can check it all out at The Awardist.

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