Friday Five: Oscar Upsets

Oscar nominees came out earlier this week. I don’t take the Oscars terribly seriously anymore since they’ve long since beclowned themselves. Even the people I know who watch it do so for the spectacle and the celebrities. But I did get to thinking: what are the worst Oscar winners? You can pick anything: directors, actor, actress, best special effects if you’re that passionate about it.

My five?

Shakespeare in Love over Saving Private Ryan: This is really what motivated the post. Shakespeare was a decent but forgettable movie. Even now, I can barely remember what it was about except that Gwyneth Paltrow took her clothes off. Saving Private Ryan was an extraordinary movie that changed war films forever. Everything since has followed in its large boot print. I’ve watched it half a dozen times and it is still shattering. This abomination of a pick was when I stopped caring about Oscars.

How Green Was My Vally over Citizen Kane: Green is actually not a bad movie. But Kane was great and changed film-making. And the Hollywood celebs, who always tell us how brave they are, geeked when Hearst told them to.

Annie Hall over Star Wars: Hey, I’m Jewish. I like Annie Hall. It’s not a bad movie. It’s even good. Star Wars, however, was a great movie.

Crash over Anything: Crash was a movie I liked on initial seeing but came to dislike the more I thought about it. It is lessons about race taught with a sledge hammer. Any of the other four nominees would have been better. Revenge of the Sith would have ben a better choice.

Meryl Streep’s Thatcher caricature in The Iron Lady: I realize I am out on a limb on this and much of my ire is for the movie itself, which seemed to enjoy Thatcher’s senility more than her extraordinary career. But while Streep looked and sounded like Thatcher, she carried none of the presence that Thatcher did. I know people who met Thatcher and every single one — even those that hated her — talked about how compelling a figure she was, how she absolutely commanded the attention of everyone in the room. Streep … didn’t. In a career filled with great performances, this was the one the Academy recognized?

Honorable Mention: The Greatest Show on Earth over anything else. Forrest Gump over Shawshank Redemption. I Just Called to Say I Love You over Purple Rain — really? Gandhi over ET — even Attenborough said this was a bad choice. Driving Miss Daisy — seriously? A Beautiful Mind over Fellowship of the Ring, which had the knock on effect of denying an Oscar to Master and Commander. Rain Man over Dangerous Liasons. I could go all day.

Your five?

Comments are closed.

  1. Thrill

    Only one I can think of right off is that masturbatory, Baby Boomer self-congratulatory piece Forrest Gump beating out the incredibly awesome and influential Pulp Fiction.

    Otherwise, I’m afraid I don’t pay enough attention to the Oscars to judge. I know what I like. In fact, the example I gave is probably right when I stopped caring.

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  2. working_man

    Otherwise, I’m afraid I don’t pay enough attention to the Oscars to judge.

    That’s what I was going to say!

    I have so little in common with the Academy in real life that my taste in what makes a film great, (surprise!) is very different as well.

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  3. Argive

    Ordinary People over Raging Bull. I don’t think I need to explain this one.

    Rocky over Taxi Driver. See above. I’m from Philadelphia, where Rocky is a major cultural touchstone (and boy, do I get sick of seeing that scene of Adrian telling Rocky to “win!” played over and over again at Phillies games). Most people here recognize that Rocky didn’t deserve to win Best Picture that year. Shit, Network would have been a better choice as well.

    Kevin Costner for Dances With Wolves over Martin Scorsese for Goodfellas. Yes, I am a Scorsese fan. Though I don’t think he should have won Best Director for The Departed (Eastwood should have snagged that one for Letters From Iwo Jima). Also, Goodfellas should have won Best Picture.

    Chicago over anything. I like musicals, but pretty much any of the other movies nominated that year were better.

    Anybody over Peter O’Toole. The man has never won an Oscar, unless you count his Honorary Award, which I do not. His best role is probably T.E. Lawrence, but he had the extremely bad luck of going up against Gregory Peck for To Kill A Mockingbird that year. Still, he really should have won for A Lion In Winter.

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  4. Hal_10000 *

    Argive, if you’re from Philly, you’ll like an article I’m going to up soon about the trade unions. I mean, unless you’re in one, obviously.

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  5. Argive

    Argive, if you’re from Philly, you’ll like an article I’m going to up soon about the trade unions. I mean, unless you’re in one, obviously.

    Man, do not get me started on those guys. Philadelphia municipal politics in general can be very depressing. We have a machine running this city, but unlike in, say, Chicago under Daley, nothing gets done here; it’s a machine that doesn’t work. They can’t even get central air installed in City Hall!

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  6. Santino

    I saw right through the Saving Private Ryan hype. Sure visually speaking you might say it was compelling, but if it’s the “world’s greatest movie” then you better damn well have a great storyline, which is where this movie fell down. All I remember thinking at the end of the movie was, That was it what the fuck were people raving about? YMMV

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  7. briggie

    Titanic beating L.A Confidential and Good Will Hunting in pretty much everything. That made me stop taking the Oscars seriously. Like Armageddon, just because everyone likes Titanic doesn’t mean it is a great movie.

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  8. briggie

    All I remember thinking at the end of the movie was, That was it what the fuck were people raving about? YMMV

    I was only in middle school when it came out, but I remember a lot of people clamoring about its more realistic depiction of war. As opposed to those propaganda films from the 50’s and 60’s where all the enemies act like idiots and run out into the open to get slaughtered, then everyone rides of into the sunset at the end. The Bridge on the River Kwai and a few others being the exception.

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  9. Mississippi Yankee

    Last years Oscars was a perfect example of The Academy being out of step with the viewing public. With the notable exception of Best Picture and Best actor for The King’s Speech I disagreed with just about every other Oscar winner. It’s been that way for many years but 2011, for me, was the worst. I mean I like Natalie Portman as well as the next guy but for her performance in Black Swan to beat out Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone was unimaginably biased or just plain retarded.

    And Mark Ruffalo in “The Kids Are All Right” was about the only redeeming part of that movie yet he was beat out by Christian Bale in “The Fighter”.

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  10. Mississippi Yankee

    Thrill, thanks for that wonderful description of Forrest Gump. Just about the only part of that movie I enjoyed was it lent several quotable groaners that were suitable for use at boring parties.
    (I gave you the up vote)

    Somehow I not surprised to see how many people disagree and get all moist, still, over that flick. I detect the same moistness in fans of another fictitious man too.

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  11. Hal_10000 *

    I mean I like Natalie Portman as well as the next guy but for her performance in Black Swan to beat out Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone was unimaginably biased or just plain retarded.

    THIS ^^^

    Winter’s Bone was a very good movie and Jennifer Lawrence was simply outstanding. Portman was fine but I think her award was more of, “Oh, about time we recognized X” type.

    Agreed with you guys on Forrest Gump. I didn’t hate it. But it beat out a modern classic in Shawshank, another modern classic in Pulp Fiction and two significantly better films in Quiz Show and Four Weddings and a Funeral. Plus a few films that weren’t nominated like Leon, Red, Heavenly Creatures. Just ridiculous.

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  12. Mississippi Yankee

    Portman was fine but I think her award was more of, “Oh, about time we recognized X” type.

    Yes I suppose that’s true if “X” type is anorexic and neurotic (her role) it certainly fits the Hollywood mold. She is naturally thin enough but Black Swan had her looking quite unhealthy.
    Someone make that girl a ham sammach, well probably not ham but you get my point…

    BTW if you ever get a chance to see Ms Lawrence in “The Poker House” y’all won’t be disappointed. She’s a few years younger but what a powerful role.

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