- Award Snub: Denzel Washington not winning the Best Actor Oscar. While most critics had Casey Affleck pegged for the win, they also agreed that Washington was a strong contender, especially having won the SAG (often a strong indicator) a few weeks before.
- Critical Dissonance: The film has been near-universally praised by critics, but audience members on IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes have had far more mixed opinions, citing Troy's habit of going on long, pointless tracts, occasionally overwrought acting and a first act that is nearly devoid of plot as criticism of the film most critics don't discuss.
- Jerkass Woobie: Troy is a textbook example. The guy's been chewed up and spit out by life, having grown up with a near-murderous father and lived the angst of turn-of-the-century racism, and while he clearly works to provide for his family, the fear it's instilled in him makes him bitter, possessive and selfish.
- Narm: The scene that Rose calls out Troy is a heart-wrenching powerhouse performance by Viola Davis. Shame that she spends the whole scene with her upper lip covered in snot.
- Tear Jerker: Troy's final scene, where he picks up his bat (all that he has left at this point in the play) and taunts Death, after Alberta dies, Rose becomes emotionally cold towards him, he's signed Gabriel over to the hospital, and he's just chased Cory out of their home. The focus pull on Troy as he's getting ready to swing is a chilling illustration of how much his sanity is finally beginning to slip away for good.
Troy: I can't taste nothing. Helluljah! I can't taste nothing no more!...Come on! It's between you and me now! Come on! Anytime you want! Come on! I be ready for you...but I ain't gonna be easy.
- What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?:
- Fences, as the title would indicate. More specifically, how they can be used: either to keep something in (which Rose metaphorically does by trying to keep the family together) or how it could be used to keep someone out (which is what Troy eventually does, isolating himself from his family by cheating on Rose and kicking Cory out of the house).
- Troy's references to injustice towards African-American baseball players represent the injustice all black athletes faced in a time where racial integration in sports didn't exist.