Forest Whitaker, Michael B. Jordan and Chiwetel Ejiofor: 3 black leading males that could make history in this year’s Oscar race

Three black actors you should become familiar with between now and the Hollywood Awards season are Michael B. Jordan, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Forrest Whitaker.

This trio of leading men are starring in films that are already generating Oscar buzz.

According to the New York Times, 2013 is “a breakout year for black films,” with several prominent movies being released by and about African-Americans. Among those films, Fruitvale Station, 12 Years a Slave, and The Butler stand out as award contenders.

Michael B. Jordan in Fruitvale Station

Fruitvale Station, the acclaimed flick from this year’s Sundance Film Festival, which is now playing in select cities, reenacts the final days of Oscar Grant’s life before he was fatally shot by a white police officer in an Oakland metro station. The movie is directed by Ryan Coogler, 26 years old, and stars Oscar winner Octavia Spencer and Micheal B. Jordan.

Jordan, also 26, got his start in Hollywood on HBO’s acclaimed series The Wire as the corner kid Wallace, which earned him a prominent role on Friday Night Lights.

His portrayal of Grant has won the young actor continuous accolades from critics and serious Oscar buzz.

Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave

This week the trailer for Steve McQueen’s slave drama 12 Years A Slave hit the web, and has left many critics saying the film is going to be a leading contender come awards season.

The slave saga stars Brad Pitt, Michael Fastbender, Alfre Woodard, Paul Giammati, Adepero Oduye, and British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, and is based on the true story of Solomon Northup, a free black man living in New York who was kidnapped in 1814 and sold into slavery.

The film is set for release October 18th, and according to the Huffington Post, the release of the 12 Years trailer has officially entered Ejiofor into this year’s Oscar race.

Forrest Whitaker in The Butler

Forrest Whitaker, a producer for Fruitvale Station, also has the starring role in the highly-anticipated film The Butler. The movie is based on the life of Eugene Allen, who served eight presidents as the White House’s head butler from 1952 to 1986.

Precious director Lee Daniels leads an all-star cast of actors including Oprah Winfrey, Cuba Gooding Jr., Robin Williams, Mariah Carey, Jane Fonda, Terrence Howard, Lenny Kravitz and more.

Whitaker took home best actor in 2006, for his performance as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland.

There have never been three African-American leading males contenting for the best actor Academy Award at the same time, but this year Whitaker, Jordan and Ejiofor could make history.

Follow Chris Witherspoon on Twitter for more Entertainment news at @WitherspoonC