Sunday is Oscar night! While I love watching the Oscars, I have a love-hate relationship with them. I love them because they celebrate film. I hate them because they often get the nominations and winners completely wrong! It’s hard to pick just ten,but here are the top ten times the Oscars got things wrong.
10. American Beauty Beats Out a Great Field for Best Picture
I have a ton of respect for Kevin Spacey. But American Beauty I think is a bit overrated. It tried too hard to be edgy. The 72nd Academy Awards boasted one of the strongest best picture categories in recent memory: The Cider House Rules, The Insider,The Green Mile, and The Sixth Sense. Any of the others would have been great choices. My vote would go to The Green Mile. I liked American Beauty when it was initially released,but in retrospect I don’t think it’s award-worthy.
9. There Will Be Blood Winning…ANYTHING!
I usually endure a film until the bitter end even if I don’t like it. It takes a lot for me to give up. But with about 15 minutes left I couldn’t take anymore of There Will Be Blood! First of all, there was no blood. Seriously,it’s one of the most tedious exercises in cinema I have ever witnessed. Even the score was bad. It was supposedly based on a book called Oil! by Upton Sinclair. I have not read the book,but knowing the author I bet it’s much better. I have never been so bored to tears by a movie in my entire life.
8. No Best Picture Nomination for Singin’ In the Rain
Singin’ In the Rain is arguably the greatest film musical ever made. The songs are unforgettable, the performances stellar,the choreography inspired…it’s no wonder it has endured some 50 years later. Andy yet it received only two Oscar nominations. One was for the music and the other was for supporting actress Jean Hagen. It didn’t receive a best picture nomination. The winner that year? Another movie musical starring Gene Kelly: An American in Paris. That film has some good music and Gene Kelly,but that can’t save it. It doesn’t resonate or have the imagination of Singin’ in the Rain. Luckily history seems to be on the film’s side. Singin’ in the Rain is being embraced by film audiences today.
7. Alfred Hitchcock Never Winning a Best Director Oscar
One of the great mysteries of the Oscars to me is that the great Alfred Hitchcock never won an Oscar for directing. How is that even possible? The Master of Suspense was nominated five times: Psycho,Rear Window,Spellbound,Lifeboat,and Rebecca. But he didn’t win for any of them! With his body of work it’s one of the greatest crimes in the history of the Oscars.
6. Raiders of the Lost Ark Losing for Best Score and Best Picture
The Oscars have a history of prejudice against a few genres: action/adventure,science fiction,fantasy,and comedies. With the exception of comedies the other categories only seem to get nominated for technical categories with a few rarities (Star Wars, Lord of the Rings). At the 54th Academy Awards one of the most iconic action films was up for a many awards. It was a little movie called Raiders of the Lost Ark. Among its nominations were ones for best picture,director,and score. While it really stinks it lost for best picture,it was up against a great crop of films: Chariots of Fire,Reds,On Golden Pond,and Atlantic City. Chariots of Fire is a wonderful film,but it did not deserve best picture over that group,especially Raiders and Reds. What gets me even more is Raiders losing best original score to Chariots Fire. The score for Raiders is so much more than the Raiders march. It’s a great score with epic action music (especially during the truck chase sequence),a great/mysterious theme for the ark itself,and the beautiful/haunting theme for Marion. John Williams does have five Oscars,but it’s honestly surprising he doesn’t have more given his body of work (Harry Potter,Saving Private Ryan, Jurassic Park,etc.).
5. No Oscars for Roger Deakins
Roger Deakins is one of the best cinematographers of his generation. His body of work includes: Skyfall,Fargo,The Shawshank Redemption,and The Reader. He was nominated for all of those but has yet to win. He is nominated this year for Prisoners. Perhaps the Oscars will right a wrong. Deakins should have won for Skyfall or The Shawshank Redemption. Without his genius those films wouldn’t be nearly as great to look at. Give him an Oscar already!
4. G0odfellas Losing to Dances with Wolves
Martin Scorsese shockingly only has one directing Oscar. He won it a few years ago for The Departed. While it was a worthy film to win for,it took way too long for Scorsese to be recognized! He should have won one for Raging Bull and Goodfellas. Goodfellas lost in the best picture category and directing category to…Dances With Wolves. Now,I like Dances With Wolves. I respect Kevin Costner. But..really? Really? Really???!!! Goodfellas in my opinion is the best film ever made about the mafia. The fact that it lost in two of the major categories is wrong on so many levels.
3. Apollo 13 Getting Snubbed for Directing and Losing Best Picture
Apollo 13 did something rare: it had me on the edge of my seat despite the fact that I knew how it ended. That wouldn’t have happened without the skillful direction of Ron Howard. Apparently the Oscars thought the film directed itself. Howard would eventually win an Oscar for A Beautiful Mind. But that doesn’t make up for him being completely snubbed for arguably his best film. Apollo 13 lost in the best picture category to Braveheart. Braveheart was well-made,yes. But with the exception of an iconic moment (“they’ll never take our freedom!”) and a great look,it’s not best picture-worthy. Apollo 13 is vastly superior film.
2. Wizard of Oz Losing to Gone With the Wind
Here’s where I know I am going to get hate mail. Few films are as overrated as Gone With the Wind. There,I said it! I grant that it’s a triumph in terms of production design,acting,and the part of the story about the reconstruction of the South is interesting. Sadly the focus of the story is not any of those things. The focus of the story is centered around Scarlett O’Hara,one of the most obnoxious heroines in the history of cinema. How is she a heroine? She isn’t even an interesting anti-hero. I would have been happy to see her burn with the rest of Atlanta. And how did it beat out The Wizard of Oz for best picture? What a travesty! Wizard of Oz is superior in every way to Gone With the Wind. It had iconic music,a classic story,and was a stellar production all-around. Every generation discovers The Wizard of Oz 75 years later. It just makes its loss at the Oscars to Gone With the Wind all the more infuriating!
1. Annie Hall Beats Star Wars…Really???!!!
The Oscars have been privy to many crimes over the years. But perhaps the most glaring of them is that somehow Annie Hall won best picture over Star Wars. Are you kidding me? Annie Hall is a very well-made romantic comedy. There’s no doubt about it. But Star Wars was a watershed moment for film making. It changed how movies were made and marketed. It gave us Industrial Light and Magic,the special effects wizards who give us some of the best visuals in the industry decades later,and its story and characters are just as iconic now as they were when the film was a surprise breakout hit in 1977. Of all the Oscars crimes this one is the worst!
Comments? Questions? Concerns? Scathing Rebuttal? Let loose in the comments!