With the Oscar nominations being announced next Tuesday (January 24), I thought I would go a bit negative and look back at some of the worst snubs in Oscar history. The Academy Awards have a rather dubious reputation of rewarding the mediocre over the truly great. Now granted, what one person thinks great another may find mediocre. A good example of this happened just last year when the achingly average film The King’s Speech – not a bad film, just rather bland – beat out films like The Social Network, Black Swan, Winter’s Bone and The Fighter.
I know many people loved The King’s Speech, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder as they say, but in no universe is The King’s Speech the best film of any year. Will it be remembered twenty, thirty, fifty years from now? Probably not. But still, no matter how disappointed I happened to be with last year’s outcome, it is only a minor glitch in an Oscar history of bad calls and out and out mistakes.
Many bad choices have been made. Chariots of Fire beating out Raiders of the Lost Ark. Driving Miss Daisy over Born on the Fourth of July (as well as the non-nominated Do the Right Thing!). Films such as The English Patient, Gandhi and Rain Man taking home Best Picture. Cuba Gooding Jr., Whoopie Goldberg and Sandra Bullock all have Oscars. But still, these are mere matters of taste and opinion, and no matter how ridiculous some of these may very well have been, there are much much worse. Ones that go beyond mere taste and opinion and dig deep into the well of pure cinematic stupidity. Of course this is also just me venting out my own frustrations toward an organization that should already be quite well-known for making bad choices. Oh well, everyone needs to vent once and a while.
So, without further ado, I give you the 10 Most Heinous Oscar Snubs in Academy Award History.
10. Citizen Kane Did Not Win Best Picture!
Granted, the film that did win the Oscar in 1941, John Ford’s How Green Was My Valley, is by no means a bad film. Other than a bit of over-sentimentalism, it is a rather good motion picture. But to see it win over the film that is considered by many to be the greatest film of all-time? Okay, hindsight is 20/20 as they say and Kane was not well-received at first (it began gaining critical speed in the 1950′s) so to see a film like How Green Was My Valley take the Oscar is not really that surprising, or even all that bad. It’s not like Kramer vs. Kramer went back in time and won the award. Still though, kind of silly when one goes back and looks at it. Now on to some much worse Oscar crimes.
9. Judy Garland Never Won An Oscar!?
Yes, they gave her a special Juvenile Oscar in 1939, but the singer/actress was only ever nominated twice in her career and lost both times. I suppose I could have put many other Oscar-less actor or actresses in this spot – Cary Grant, Greta Garbo, James Dean, Deborah Kerr, Richard Burton, Barbara Stanwyck, Peter O’Toole – but to see such a beloved actress, even with her troubles with drugs and alcohol, never get the recognition she well deserved is such a shame. Just watch Meet Me in St. Louis, The Clock, A Star is Born or her supporting turn in The Judgment at Nuremburg, and you would have to agree.
8. Oliver! Wins Best Picture in a Year That Gave Us 2001?
It is bad enough that one of the most audacious, stunning motion pictures ever made (even its detractors must acknowledge its bravura) was not even nominated for Best Picture (Kubrick was just too much for the rather staid Academy – even if A Clockwork Orange would be nominated three years later) but to give the top award to one of the most middling, middle-of-the-road musicals ever made is sheer Oscar ridiculousness.
7. Gwyneth Paltrow’s Parents Win Her An Oscar!!
The Oscars have always been a hotbed of nepotism, but never has it been so blatant as it was in 1998 when Gwyneth Paltrow, daughter of Hollywood’s Blythe Danner and producer Bruce Paltrow, took home Best Actress, beating out Meryl Streep in One True Thing, Emily Watson in Hilary and Jackie and the year’s biggest critical performances, Fernanda Montenegro in Central Station and Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth. Don’t even get me started on Paltrow’s film, Shakespeare in Love beating out Saving Private Ryan, a film that has problems but is certainly head and shoulders above the frothy Shakespearean wannabe rom-com.
6. Kramer vs. Kramer Beats Apocalypse Now!!
One of the most ferocious and daring war films ever made versus a film that makes Chariots of Fire look exciting by contrast. Well, I think we all know where this is going. Oscar has more often than not gone with the safer (read: blander) choice and that was certainly the case in 1979 when this very thing happened big time. Kramer vs. Kramer also beat the radically unconventional All That Jazz as well, but to have this dreadfully boring movie beat out Apocalypse Now!? Crazy!!
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