This Sunday is the Oscars. A time when a bunch of millionarie actors gather around to determine who was the best this year in acting and movie production. Don’t tell anyone about this, but it’s kind of a guilty pleasure of mine to see who wins. I don’t watch the show, naturally. Especially since I have a wall covered in fresh paint that looks far more exciting to watch. And It doesn’t skew my opinions on what movies I like or not I just like finding out what a collective group of know-it-alls think is the best movie of the year. And this year is going to be interesting with a lot of good movies competing for the top spots. And there are some times when I agree with them who deserves the awards.
And there a metric tonne of times that I don’t. Come on, even this year, there are movies and actors who should have at least got nominated for something that was overlooked by the Academy. You know, like Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler.
This is my top ten “Oscar Screw Jobs” of all time. By “Screw Job” I mean those bad decisions the Academy has made, ranging from choosing the wrong winner, to giving recognition to undeserving movies, to not even acknowledging anyone in a particular category.
Three rules to my list. 1) Only one year is represented each entry. 2) Only one movie is represented in each entry. (Although I can say that one should have been replaced with another movie.) 3) These are just my opinions. You may think I’m wrong, and I’d love to hear what you think about my list and what you think was a true screw job in the comments.
10. Moulin Rouge!
Needless to say, I am not the target audience for romantic comedies, or even romantic movies in general. There are good ones out there, like When Harry Met Sally, or Chocolat, for example.
One of the key reasons why they annoy me so much is because I’ve always hated Romeo and Juliet. I never liked that play, I hated reading it in high school, nor do I like the subsequent movies it inspired. I just never accepted the concept of what I call the “drive-by” romances. You know, where our love scorned hero just meet someone and know that it was meant to be forever, instead of spending time with them over a span of weeks or months to determine if it’s someone you’d spend the rest of your life with. I just have an issue, philosophically, with stories and concepts that can be summed up with “Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but let’s stay together, forever, maybe?”
But the one movie that pissed me off more than all other Rom-Com’s combined was Moulin Rouge. I despise this movie so damn much. It’s a horrible piece of cinema. For a movie to keep bashing over our heads the theme of love, over and over again, not only do they never discuss what love really is, or how you know you’re in love, but it never, ever, convinced me that the two leads are even in love. They were in lust, I believe that, but never were they in love, in my opinion.
It’s directed by Baz Lurhmann, a man who takes the concepts of Style over Substance, and takes it to an extreme. And I can’t think of one movie he’s done that didn’t bore me to tears. I even hated his neon version of Romeo and Juliet, a movie I was forced to watch in high school as well.
Moulin Rouge had many nominations that year and won for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration and Best Costume Design, and I will concede that these wins are warranted because they were things that Luhrmann does well.
But it was nominated for Best Cinematography and Best Film Editing?
Now correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t cinematography when they have the right cameras and angles and shots and such? And isn’t film editing when post production cuts the film so that the audience can view the film in a certain fluidity? If so, than this boggles me to no end.
For a movie that uses goofy angles and movements so fast, you can’t see any of the award winning sets and costumes. And Best Film Editing? Especially with that early shot where the film didn’t go 5 seconds without a confusing cut to another, making it so dizzying I needed a vomit bag? I haven’t felt this nauseous from a scene from Blair Witch Project. Seriously, I needed a bottle of Visine to get through the first third of the movie. I’m not saying every scene was awful or horribly cut, but that one scene should have disqualified them from contention of that category alone.
This is, by the way, not mentioning that Nicole Kidman was nominated for Best Actress in probably her goofiest role in her career. But I am giving her a pass because she was the better part of the movie, and I am a big fan of hers. But the editing? Just unbelievable.
9. Adam Sandler
Hear me out first. Let me preface this with a sentence we can all agree with. Adam Sandler comedies suck. They are not funny at all. He does have some funny parts in some movies, and I will contend that Happy Gilmore was not a bad movie. And I don’t want to generalize every comedy he’s ever done, because let’s face it, only a Sith deals in absolutes. But on the whole, he’s not that funny, and makes some of the worst comedies ever made.
So why am I mentioning his name in a blog about Oscar snubs. Because he didn’t get nominated for the one movie he put a lot of effort into.
Punch Drunk Love was a movie that shocked me as to being amazing. It took a friend of mine a long time to convince me to watch this movie. But I’m glad he did, because the movie is so dark and beautiful. I don’t know if it’s because I can relate to the main character, someone who is almost introverted and lost and dealing with the pressures of being alone, but falls in love and finds someone to fight for, but I just loved this movie and the main character Barry Egan. It’s almost like the role was written specifically for Sandler, and he made it fantastic. It proves that Sandler can act in the right movie and with the right director, with PT Anderson.
I’m not quite sure why he was overlooked at not just the Oscars, but a lot of awards altogether. The most he ever got was a Golden Globe nomination. Granted, he probably still would have lost to Adrien Brody in The Pianist, but this was a performance of his career, and far and away his greatest. And I do believe that if he was at least nominated at the Oscars, maybe he wouldn’t have made Jack & Jill. What a horrible movie that was.
On a side note, I will miss Philip Seymour Hoffman. He was incredible in this movie as well, and was ignored as well.
8. Alfred Hitchcock
There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind, Alfred Hitchcock, the master of suspense, was hated by the Oscars. I don’t know if it was a personality thing, or if the Oscars looked down in horror and suspense movies. But the fact that he was only nominated 5 times and never won Best Director is staggering. Movies like Rear Window and Vertigo were so beautifully directed with innovative techniques. North By Northwest Is my favourite movie if Hitchcocks, with an awesome story and incredible set pieces.
But none were more baffling than the fact that lost best director for his magnum opus, Psycho in the 1961 Oscars to a movie called the Apartment. This is Psycho we’re talking about, not only one of the most memorable movie of the last 50 years, but probably the most parodied today. It’s chilling music, the ominous atmosphere, the weird characters. Even today, people watch Psycho and love it. (The original, not that god awful remake with Vince Vaughn and Anne Heche. )
Now, I’ll be fair, I have never seen the Apartment with Jack Lemmon and Shirley McLaine, so I’ll hold judgment on that when I finally do, but when you look down on the other categories, and the fact that Janet Leigh was nominated and didn’t win, and that Psycho wasn’t even nominated is just a mind bender.
And speaking of directors that consistently get overlooked by the Oscars. …
7. Malcolm McDowell and A Clockwork Orange
Did you know that Singing In The Rain, the Gene Kelly musical, was only nominated for best supporting actress and best music and lost both? Many fans of musicals still are bitter that it wasn’t even nominated for best picture.
But when I think of Singing in the Rain, and Oscar snubs, I think of a completely different movie.
You have to have massive Yarbles to tell me you don’t like A Clockwork Orange. It’s the very definition of a cinematic masterpiece. And Yes, Stanley Kubrick got screwed on his other works that I love, like 2001: A Space Oddysey (which wasn’t even nominated for best picture), Dr Strangelove and the Shining, but A Clockwork Orange is his best, hands down.
Kubrick got 4 nominations for this movie, including Best Picture and Best Director and lost them all, mostly to The French Connection. But the biggest heartbreak was the fact that Malcolm McDowell didn’t even get a nomination. This movie was indeed a visual tour-de-force with a wonderful story with some incredible themes. But let’s be honest, we’re talking about Alex DeLarge, one of the best anti-heroes in cinema history, and there was no other actor who could have pulled off this part. McDowell helped make A Clockwork Orange go from brilliant to genius. And quite frankly, seeing the voters struggle to decide between McDowell and Hackman would have been so exciting to watch
6. William H Macy / Fargo
I’m pretty embarrassed to admit this, but I finally saw Fargo for the first time this year. It took me this long to finally see it, and I should have seen this movie earlier. Holy hell, what a masterpiece of a movie. Everything from the settings, to the story, to the character development is just perfect. I can fully understand why people call this their favourite movie of all time. It’s a great choice for that honour.
Fargo sadly lost Best Picture to that snorer of a movie, The English Patient, but I’m not too hell bent on that. Both movies are pretty great in their own regard, and competing with other great movies like Secrets & Lies and Shine just shows how competitive 1996 was in film.
But Fargo did pick up some golden hardware in Original Screenplay, and the Coen brothers deserved it. But none were more deserving than Frances McDormand’s portrayal of a local cop with a job to do and a sunny disposition on life, and what I would argue as one of the strongest female protagonists in movies.
But the biggest performance of the movie is William H. Macy. Here’s an actor who usually gets the short end of the stick in terms of recognition, and he is given a role of a lifetime in this movie, as a low down, dirty, and stupid car salesman so desperate for money and respect that he endangers his wife and kid. It’s such a great performance, and I am so glad he won for Best Supporting Actor.
Except he didn’t. Cuba Gooding Jr. was shown the money.
Now, you know my stance on Rom-Coms, and Jerry McGuire is no exception to that rule. I was dragged to sit in a movie theatre full of women watching this movie, and I couldn’t wait to get the hell out. Now, Gooding was the only memorable actor in this movie, but better than Macy? No. Not a chance in hell.
And not that this is relevant to my argument, but Cuba Gooding Jr’s career is such an anomaly. I can’t think of another actor who pissed away his Oscar win accolade more than him. Here you have an actor that oozes charisma so much that the camera and the audience loves him in movies like this, and he goes from great acting in this movie, As Good As It Gets and Outbreak to Chill Factor, Snow Dogs and Norbit. This is more than just a fall from grace. A talent like his is wasted on such awful movies like Boat Trip and Daddy Day Care. Although he was apparently in The Butler and Selma, so maybe he’s climbing back? I hope so.
5. Back to the Future
The Oscars that happened in 1986 is a weird year from my perspective, because looking on IMDB at best picture nominees, best actor and actress nominees, I have either never heard of the movie, or never seen the movie. Out Of Africa? The Color Purple? Witness? Finally, at Best Supporting Actor the winner was the guy from Coccoon, and I’ve at least seen that. And I did see Kiss Of The Spider Woman as well, but that was 20 years ago and I have no idea what it was about anymore.
Then we got to best original screenplay and saw that Brazil lost to Witness. I’ve never seen Witness, but Brazil is one of my all time favourite movies. So I think to myself, there’s something to complain about, but not really, because I understand why other people didn’t like it. So let’s see what else didn’t get nominated and see if there’s something even more upsetting.
Then I noticed what also nominated for best original screenplay was Back to the Future. I’m thinking “All right! It lost to this, but i’ll bet it swept the sound categories. After all, it is one of the most iconic musical scores of all time.”
Back to the Future did win for best sound editing, but lost its nominations for best sound and best original score for Huey Lewis and the News song Power of Love. But it wasn’t even nominated for best Original Score. The movie that has arguably the best Original Score of all time, didn’t win for best Original Score. Great Scott, what a terrible oversight.
The music was done by Alan Silvestri whose only other nominations include Forrest Gump and The Polar Express, and never won. His IMDB page is filled with some of your favourite movies. This just proves that the Academy really holds a grudge on some talented people for some reason.
As far back as I can remember, I always heard people bitch and complain about this decision.
Look, let’s get one thing clear. I think Dances With Wolves is a visually wonderful film. The set is beautiful, the musical score is terrific, and the acting is great. And you can have hundreds of other arguments as to why this movie is a great movie. However, every argument you have will always end with “… But Goodfellas was better”
I mean, come on, do I really have to give you full details as to why what should have won best pictures is arguably the greatest gangster movies of all time and Martin Scorsese’s greatest film since Raging Bull? (Another movie commonly mentioned as snubbed by the Oscars)
Here’s my theory on what happened with this loss. You see, Joe Pesci went to all the voters that year, and told them that if he didn’t win Best Supporting Actor, then something bad was going to happen to them and their family, see? Then the day of the Oscars came, and Pesci told Scorsese about how it all went down, but when Scorsese asked if he mentioned about the Best Picture category, Pesci realized his mess up and realized that he might get whacked. And that’s why his acceptance speech was only one sentence long. He needed to get out of there quickly before the real gangsters got to him.
It might also explain why he started doing comedies like Home Alone and Lethal Weapon 3. Just sayin’.
Not much else to add to this argument except “Dances With Wolves”? Go home and get your shine box.
3. Mickey Rourke jobs to Sean Penn
Two things about this entry. One, I am not a fan of Sean Penn. I just don’t like his movies, plain and simple. I also find that he has been phoning in all his movies that guarantees him Oscar wins, and his performances are boring as hell.
Second: The Wrestler is also among one of my favourite movies of all time. It’s Darren Aronofsky’s best movie, without question. And it’s not just the fact that I’m a wrestling fan. It’s the harrowing story of a man who can no longer do what he has a passion for because of health reasons, and tries to find his new identity in society, and tries to rectify his decisions. And many of the subplots are reflective of what really happened to older wrestlers made it extra sad to watch. But one of the key reasons this movie is so powerful and compelling is Mickey Rourke. He gives a performance of a lifetime, and the best of his career, hands down.
And I was so pissed off when Sean Penn beat him at the Oscars for Milk. I’m talking full rage, throwing things, shouting obscenities and cutting a promo at my TV to challenge Penn to a street fight. I was that angry. Now I have seen Milk, and it’s a good movie. And that’s based on the events of the real Harvey Milk, and I’m not knocking the story in any way. But Penn’s portrayal is no match for Rourke’s, in any way, shape and form. Rourke hit emotions that Penn can only dream of.
Again, it’s my opinion, but Rourke got screwed.
2. The Citizen Kane of Oscar Snubs
If you look at a lot of other people’s list of Oscar Snubs, you’ll see Citizen Kane mentioned in the vast majority of them. And when you look further into it, there’s good reason. It’s fascinating to read up on it. Even if you’re not a fan of the movie, you can still accept the fact that Orson Welles‘ career was pretty much over after this. This is the literal definition of an Oscar Screw Job.
William Randolph Hearst, the man that inspired the movie, was so furious over his portrayal in this movie that he overreacted in a huge way. He blocked every newspaper he owned from reviewing, or even mentioning the movie. He blocked the movie from being shown in the majority of theatres, and even tried to buy the negatives from RKO studios before it was shown to the public, just so he can destroy the film altogether. When that failed, he smeared Welles directly. He even apparently planted a 14 year old girl and two photographers in his hotel to try to discredit the actor and director.
So when it came down to Oscar voting, it was reported that a bloc of voters intentionally voted against Welles for Acting, Directing and best Picture awards. There was even a section of the crowd at the award ceremony that booed every time Welles or Citizen Kane was mentioned.
It’s incredible what happened during post production. So much so, I’m surprised that this wasn’t made into a full length movie yet. Hollywood, get on that.
Normally I don’t bother with honourable mentions, because the challenge of writing a top ten is to only select 10. But with all the Academy did wrong, and the fight over what was going where on this list, let’s do some quick honourable mentions.
Do The Right Thing should have been nominated instead of Driving Miss Daisy – Yeah I know, Driving Miss Daisy won, but I still think the Spike Lee joint was a much better film to tackle the topic of race.
Phil Collins bests South Park In Best original song – For such a bland song for the Tarzan soundtrack, it’s actually pretty shocking Collins won. I think it was because Blame Canada was the nominee for South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut. If only they had Robin Williams perform Uncle Fucker live on television.
The Casablanca Clusterfuck – For disputably one of the greatest love stories ever put to celluloid, its Best Picture win was warranted. But there was no love for the actors in Casablanca Humphrey Bogart and Claude Rains lost their nomination bids, and Ingmar Bergman wasn’t even nominated for the movie, but was for a different movie in For Whom The Bell Tolls, and still lost.
Julia Roberts wins anything, let alone Best Actress for Erin Brockovich – I don’t like her as an actress. Her brother Eric is much more entertaining.
Shakespeare in Love wins anything, let alone Best Picture – Saving Private Ryan should have won. Again, do I really need to elaborate further on this one?
Val Kilmer didn’t get nominated for best supporting actor for Tombstone – In a perfect world, Kilmer would have been nominated, but still lost to Ralph Finnes for Schindler’s List. Instead, we are in a world where Finnes was nominated and lost to Tommy Lee Jones in the Fugitive. Really bizarre.
1. Best Picture of 1994
1994 will go down, in my opinion, as not only one of the best year for video games, or music, but also in movies. You look at the Oscars that happened in 1995 to prove that there was a lot of competition for some of the biggest prizes in cinema. And the fact that people still debate whether the right calls were made or not is a testament to how awesome that year was.
To this day, people still argue that Samuel L. Jackson should have won best supporting actor over Martin Landau. Or that Quentin Tarantino should have been best Director over Robert Zemekis. I’ve even heard a debate that Little Women should have had a nomination for Best adapted Screenplay. All of these are good debate topics, and to be honest, I can see legitimate arguments for both sides.
But nothing compares to the fight over what should have won Best Picture. There was a battle of the titans this year for them. Lots say Pulp Fiction was better than Forrest Gump, and others say Shawshank Redemption should have won. I personally think Quiz Show was better than Forrest Gump. Quiz Show is such an underrated movie, and never talked about how it deserved its nomination.
But wait a minute? What was the fifth nominee for best picture that year? Four Weddings and a Funeral? Really? I mean, to be fair, it is a funny movie with a great premise. And despite my earlier rant about romantic comedies, I find this one to be an example of a good one in the genre. But Best Picture nominee? Really?
One of these things is not like the other. You have a story of a movie about a journeyman during the heart of the recent history of American culture, a hilarious and exciting take on the gangster and crime movie, you have Stephen King’s best movie adaptation about life in prison, and a film about the corruption of a television game show. And then you have a Hugh Grant comedy. Something here is not right.
To make my point clearer, let’s have a look at some of the nominations from other categories and determine which one would have been a better Best Picture Nominee than Four Weddings and a Funeral. What else was nominated that year for other categories that could have been a better Best Picture nominee?
Ed Wood? Tim Burton’s biopic about one of the worst director’s in cinema history? I love that movie, so yeah, that could have been a contender for best Picture. What else?
Bullets Over Broadway? I’m not a huge Woody Allen, but sure, I can see it. What else?
Legends of the Fall? Okay, it did win for Best Cinematography and was a good film to boot. Also Little Women, definitely. Madness of King George? Another good pick, and the Oscars love their period piece.
What else? What other movie was nominated that year for something else that could have been a best picture nominee?
THE LION KING!
Yeah, this conversation is officially over.
You’re telling me, that two years after Beauty And the Beast broke the barrier for all animated movies to be nominated for best picture that The Lion King couldn’t have a shot of taking the top prize? You’re telling me that Four freaking Weddings and a flipping Funeral is better than The Lion King? I’m sorry, but no.
You see, Oscars? This is why no one likes you anymore. You ruin everything.