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An article on Oscar blunders. Do you agree or disagree?

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An article on Oscar blunders. Do you agree or disagree?

Old 02-21-04, 11:42 AM
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An article on Oscar blunders. Do you agree or disagree?

http://entertainment.msn.com/netcal/?netcal=817


The Best of the Worst
A look at the worst films, performances and directors Oscar has rewarded
By Dave McCoy
MSN Entertainment



The only thing Americans love more than controversy is arguing ... and for movie fans, nothing gets us more riled up than the Oscars. Danny Perry, in his book "Alternate Oscars," wrote, "Second-guessing the Academy's Oscar selections has become the national sport of the dissatisfied and disenfranchised." We argue about who should host the awards. We argue about what or who was or wasn't nominated. But perhaps the biggest arguments come after the awards are handed out. "How could they give that film Best Picture?!" "She won Best Supporting Actress?"

When you look back at the 75 years of the Academy Awards, you have that reaction a lot. Simply put, the Academy has made some huge errors, and history has not been kind to their decisions. The most obvious example is "Citizen Kane." Though it's considered by critics and cinephiles alike to be the best film ever made, the Academy didn't even consider it the best film of that year (1941), giving the award instead to "How Green Was My Valley." And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

So, what follows is our look at the Academy's biggest blunders. We're only covering the six main categories. Sorry, we can't do them all. I mean, if we covered the Best Song category, we could write an entire dissertation on the last 20 years alone.

Feel free to argue ...

Worst Supporting Actress
Since the supporting categories were started in 1937, the biggest number of Academy gaffes, by far, reside here. Look down the list of best supporting actress winners and you'll be scratching your head so many times, people may think you've contracted lice. It's so bad, in fact, that we have a tie. The old line goes age before beauty, so let's start with Helen Hayes' win as on old lady stowaway in the clichéd disaster film "Airport" (1970). In the supporting category the winners usually swing between really good newcomers and crusty "Lifetime Achievement Award" old timers; Hayes, who was 70 when she won this award, falls in the later category (she had already won Best Actress in 1932 for "The Sin of Madelon Claudet"). Though her performance is scene stealing, it's hardly Oscar-worthy (Karen Black in "Five Easy Pieces" or Sally Kellerman in "M.A.S.H." were both stronger). On the other end of the spectrum, but equally as baffling, was Marisa Tomei's win for "My Cousin Vinny (1992). You could hear an audible gasp in the audience when Tomei's one-note performance as Joe Pesci's obnoxious, street-smart girlfriend was awarded gold. Twelve years later, it's just as puzzling ... especially to actresses like Judy Davis ("Husbands and Wives") and Vanessa Redgrave ("Howard's End") who were much more deserving.

Dishonorable mentions:
Beatrice Straight -- "Network" (1976)
Judi Dench -- "Shakespeare in Love" (1998)
Whoopi Goldberg -- "Ghost" (1990)
Angelina Jolie -- "Girl, Interrupted" (1999)
Mira Sorvino -- "Mighty Aphrodite" (1995)
Maggie Smith -- "California Suite" (1978)
Ingrid Bergman -- "Murder on the Orient Express" (1973)

Worst Supporting Actor
Unlike Supporting Actress, the Academy has generally redeemed itself when it comes to Supporting Actors. In fact, poring over the list of winners, the only one that sticks out is George Burns for "The Sunshine Boys" (1975). His win isn't offensive or awful as much as undeserving. He played one half of a vaudeville act (Walter Matthau is the other half) who reunites with his old partner late in life despite the fact that they hate each other. Burns' win definitely falls under the "Lifetime Achievement Award" category, as his competition that year blows his deadpan performance away. Jack Warden in "Shampoo," Brad Dourif in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," Burgess Meredith for "The Day of the Locust," and especially Chris Sarandon for "Dog Day Afternoon" were all better choices, but apparently not sentimental enough for the Academy. Does anyone even remember "The Sunshine Boys"?

Dishonorable mention:
Jack Palance -- "City Slickers" (1991)
Ed Begley Sr. -- "Sweet Bird of Youth" (1962)
Peter Ustinov -- "Spartacus" (1960)
Red Buttons -- "Sayonara" (1957)
Don Ameche -- "Cocoon" (1985)

Worst Actress
Of all the major categories, Best Actress is the one where you don't find many mistakes by the Academy. For the most part, they got things right, or at least didn't embarrass themselves. There is always an exception, however, and here it is Elizabeth Taylor winning Best Actress for "Butterfield 8" (1960). Before the film -- a campy, nearly unwatchable drama about a prostitute (Taylor) who falls for a married lawyer (Laurence Harvey) -- was even made, there were problems. Taylor thought the script was offensive, saying, "This is the most pornographic script I've ever read. I've been [at MGM] for 17 years and I was never asked to play such a horrible role ... she's a sick nymphomaniac ..." The problem, however, was that Liz was under contract and obligated to make one more picture for MGM. After many concessions by the studio, Taylor finally agreed to make the film. Critics trashed it, but audiences ate it up, and the film was a hit. She was nominated, but the odds were against her winning her first Oscar. However, weeks before the ceremony, Taylor fell sick with a mysterious illness, and her condition was considered grave after a doctor performed a tracheotomy. Despite her sudden illness, Taylor vowed she'd make the ceremony. In a feat of disgusting empathy, the Academy awarded Liz with her first Oscar (she made the ceremony, and fainted backstage after winning) for a role she never wanted in a film that no one remembers.

Dishonorable mention:
Halle Berry -- "Monster's Ball" (2001)
Grace Kelly -- "The Country Girl" (1954)
Judy Holliday -- "Born Yesterday" (1950)
Cher -- "Moonstruck" (1987)
Glenda Jackson -- "A Touch of Class" (1973)

Worst Actor
Though the list of Academy mistakes in this category is long and impressive, we have to go with Roberto Benigni winning Best Actor for his Italian Holocaust comedy "Life is Beautiful" (1998). We'll spare you the details of why "Life is Beautiful" is one of the most offensive, callous, self-serving, sappy films to ever dupe both the nation and the Academy (it received more nominations than any foreign film in history), for that is another article. Instead, let's focus on Benigni's hyperactive, megalomaniacal "performance." He plays an imprisoned father in a Nazi death camp who tries to hide the reality of the Holocaust from his son by pretending the whole experience is a game. Benigni doesn't give a performance as much as celebrate himself and his "clever" idea. He wants to be Keaton or Chaplin, but we see his jokes coming from miles away. He's mugging and winking at the audience the whole way through and the result is nauseating. His shtick was good enough to fool the Academy, however, allowing Benigni to embarrass himself (again) on national TV by running around like a madman while gushing such drivel as "My body is in tumult ... I would like to be ... lying down and making love to everybody." Nick Nolte, who was nominated for his performance in "Affliction," was robbed.

Dishonorable mention:
Art Carney -- "Harry and Tonto" (1974)
Paul Lukas -- "Watch on the Rhine" (1943)
Dustin Hoffman -- "Rain Man" (1988)
John Wayne -- "True Grit" (1970)
Peter Finch -- "Network" (1976)
Rex Harrison -- "My Fair Lady" (1964)

Worst Director
I still remember the moment as if it were yesterday. It was March 24, 2002, I was at an Oscar party and they were just about to announce Best Director. The field was brutal: America's premier maverick Robert Altman for "Gosford Park"; genius David Lynch for "Mulholland Drive," easily the best film of 2001; one-time filmmaking master Ridley Scott for "Black Hawk Down"; rising mastermind Peter Jackson for "Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring;" and Ron Howard for "A Beautiful Mind." Ron Howard. The guy that made memorable cinema such as "Gung Ho." And "EdTV." Oh, and how could we forget "Far and Away" or "Backdraft"? I was pulling for Altman -- he had never won, was 77 years old, and "Gosford Park" was remarkable -- but a win by Lynch or Jackson would have been justified too. Even a Scott win I could swallow. But they gave it to Howard. Three of the best directors in film history (plus, Ridley Scott) lost to Opie. Howard is a director who makes safe, bland entertainment intended not to ruffle anyone's feathers. A more challenging director could have made "A Beautiful Mind," and they wouldn't have changed facts about the life of John Nash to make the film more mainstream. Howard signifies everything that is boring and wrong with Hollywood, and his reward was a statue that defines the system. So, maybe, it was warranted. Still, there have been a lot of Oscar blunders, but this one rises above them all.

Dishonorable mention:
Robert Zemeckis -- "Forrest Gump" (1994)
Oliver Stone --"Born on the Fourth of July" (1989)
Leo McCarey -- "Going My Way" (1944)
Kevin Costner -- "Dances With Wolves" (1990)
Robert Redford -- "Ordinary People" (1980)
George Roy Hill -- "The Sting" (1973)

Toughest Call:
John Ford ("How Green Was My Valley") beat Orson Welles ("Citizen Kane") for Best Director in 1941. While Ford is easily one of the top five directors in film history, Welles deserved the award that year. Plus, Ford had already won an award (he went on to win four total). Meanwhile, Welles was never nominated again.

Worst Picture
In 1989, Spike Lee made his masterpiece, "Do the Right Thing," a volatile, edgy ensemble piece about deteriorating race relations in a Brooklyn neighborhood on the hottest day of the year. The film was a much-needed cinematic slap in the face: unblinking social commentary masked as entertainment. It was angry and funny and shocking, fueled by real humanity yet never yielding to cheap sentimentality. Oh, yeah, and it wasn't even nominated by the Academy for Best Picture. Instead, films like the conformity-embracing "Dead Poet's Society," the hyperbolic "Born on the Fourth of July," the schmaltzy "Field of Dreams," the biopic "My Left Foot" and, sigh, "Driving Miss Daisy" instead earned nominations. The same year that Spike Lee opened audience's eyes to the dangerously explosive nature of race relations in America, the Academy looked away, and instead retreated 30 or 40 years. They awarded "Driving Miss Daisy" the Best Picture trophy. That cozy, unthreatening exploration of a relationship between an aging Southern matriarch and her African-American driver was just the type of movie that critic David Thomson calls "feel-good liberalism" that the Academy eats up. It was nice and safe and told you exactly how to feel. The fact that Lee's film was snubbed when the nominations were announced was bad enough; that "Daisy" drove off with the Oscar for Best Picture just showed how out of touch the Academy was -- not only with cinema, but society. Irony has never been more bitter.

Dishonorable mention:
"The Greatest Show on Earth" (1952)
"Around the World in 80 Days" (1956)
"A Beautiful Mind" (2001)
"Titanic" (1997)
"Out of Africa" (1985)
"Kramer Vs. Kramer" (1979)
"Ordinary People" (1980)
Old 02-21-04, 11:54 AM
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I agree with a lot of what the writer is saying, especially the bit about Ron Howard, and how maybe that he WAS the right person for the oscar simply because he did define the hollywood system. The Academy Awards has always seemed like an institution that chooses the safest option-- and I have come to expect that.

On the other hand, there are a lot of movies that I haven't seen, some that have won awards.
Old 02-21-04, 12:03 PM
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The oscars have been dead to me since 1977. Annie Hall over Star Wars for best picture? Oh please.
Old 02-21-04, 12:10 PM
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Agree with some, disagree with some.

Especially agree about Benigni.
Old 02-21-04, 12:31 PM
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Saying Driving Miss Daisy was the worst best picture winner is absolute bullshit.

Dustin Hoffman getting Honorable Mention for Worst Actor?
Old 02-21-04, 12:37 PM
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The author 'supports' his opinion several times by saying a certain person deserved an award because never before had they gotten one. That's just silly. That's the purpose of a 'Lifetime Achievement' award.
Old 02-21-04, 12:39 PM
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I pretty much agree with him on his arguments, but not necessarily his choices. I definitely think he is in the right with Ron Howard and A Beautiful Mind though.
If ever there was a year Hollywood blew its own trumpet and kissed its own ass it was that year. Look at the breakdown:

Best Adapted Script: Akiva Goldsman-he wrote Lost in Space and Batman and Robin for Pete's sake. He's a hack!!!
Best Director: Ron Howard-born and raised in the Hollywood system.

As far as the picture, just seemed to say we love our Schmaltz!
Old 02-21-04, 12:45 PM
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The Oscars winners are determined by a majority vote, correct? I don't think it's fair to assume that 'stupid Hollywood' just decided to give the award to Howard because they couldn't tell the difference between ABM and the (much better) films of that year when the possibility of the vote being split is not beyond reason.
Old 02-21-04, 12:47 PM
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I found myself agreeing with most of that article - esp. the Best Picture and Director categories.

And the Academy has given 'Lifetime' awards in the acting categories too routinely.

I do think Halle Berry deserved her award - her acceptance speech of course clouds a lot of retrospection.
Old 02-21-04, 01:16 PM
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I'd have to see more about the competition against his honorable mentions to say conclusively, but I have a hard time thinking that George Roy Hill (the Sting) or Peter Finch (Network) were undeserving....and i'd agree that Halle Berry deserved her award too, it was just her speech that reeked....and that's just to name a couple....but overall his main examples are spot on - especially Ron Howard, and Beautiful Mind altogether...what a piece of schmaltzy tripe that film is.

Last edited by HistoryProf; 02-21-04 at 01:22 PM.
Old 02-21-04, 02:44 PM
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Originally posted by El-Kabong
Annie Hall over Star Wars for best picture? Oh please.
Annie Hall deserved it that year. Have you seen it recently? It's as moving and funny now as it was in '77. Meanwhile as each year passes Star Wars seems sillier and sillier, dated and childish.
Old 02-21-04, 03:15 PM
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Originally posted by evitagen
The author 'supports' his opinion several times by saying a certain person deserved an award because never before had they gotten one. That's just silly. That's the purpose of a 'Lifetime Achievement' award.
He chastizes the Academy for giving George Burns a "lifetime acheivement" with the Best Supporting Actor award, but then goes on to say that Robert Altman deserved the Best Directory award because he was 77 and had an established body of work. Kinda hypocritical.

Also, the whining about Citizen Kane not winning an Oscar really needs to stop. I love the film and it is excellent, but it was really ahead of its time. It's influences wouldn't be seen til years later. The Academy just wasn't ready to give the statue to something as experimental as Kane.

Also, giving a dishonorable mention to Rex Harrison for My Fair Lady is just plain wrong. He really carried the film and it just wouldn't have worked without him. I guess that Tony Award he won for the role also means nothing then.

Last edited by NitroJMS; 02-21-04 at 03:21 PM.
Old 02-21-04, 03:24 PM
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Oliver Stone for Born on the Fourth of July and Robert Zemeckis for Forrest Gump are undeserving?

I don't think so!!
Old 02-21-04, 03:25 PM
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Originally posted by Rivero
Annie Hall deserved it that year. Have you seen it recently? It's as moving and funny now as it was in '77. Meanwhile as each year passes Star Wars seems sillier and sillier, dated and childish.
I agree with the first part of your statement, but not the second half.
Old 02-21-04, 03:26 PM
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Originally posted by Robert
Oliver Stone for Born on the Fourth of July and Robert Zemeckis for Forrest Gump are undeserving?

I don't think so!!

Zemeckis is undeserving, Stone isn't.
Old 02-21-04, 03:34 PM
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Originally posted by NitroJMS
Also, the whining about Citizen Kane not winning an Oscar really needs to stop. I love the film and it is excellent, but it was really ahead of its time. It's influences wouldn't be seen til years later. The Academy just wasn't ready to give the statue to something as experimental as Kane.
That just sounds stupid though. Its like you're saying its good, but the Academy couldn't realize it was good until years later. Really? It's timed dated goodness? I'll admit that some movies age better than others, but that's largely irrelevant. A movie is given best picture not because it will age well, but because of how good it is then, regardless of "aging". Especially with Citizen Kane. It is a good movie, it was a good movie in 1941, and the Academy did miss that one
Old 02-21-04, 03:51 PM
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I love the Alternate Oscars book myself. It's all just in fun, some folks take this business WAYYYY too seriously IMHO.
Old 02-21-04, 04:30 PM
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Originally posted by NitroJMS
...
Also, giving a dishonorable mention to Rex Harrison for My Fair Lady is just plain wrong. He really carried the film and it just wouldn't have worked without him. I guess that Tony Award he won for the role also means nothing then.
Agree completely. I can't picture anyone else in the part.
Old 02-21-04, 04:48 PM
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I disagree with the article... seems to be complaining about how unfair some of the choices are while at the same time accepting the stupid politics of the whole thing. Oscar results are completely meaningless... I think it's always been more about what so-and-so is wearing than about who won what.
Old 02-21-04, 04:49 PM
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Originally posted by Rivero
Annie Hall deserved it that year. Have you seen it recently? It's as moving and funny now as it was in '77. Meanwhile as each year passes Star Wars seems sillier and sillier, dated and childish.
I'm with you on this one. I have always felt that "Annie Hall" was one of the most intellectually challenging films to ever win Best Picture. It's such an observant, intelligent, truly funny film. The fact it was a comedy and won the top prize was very unexpected. I also just love Diane Keaton's performance in the film. She was so endearing and lovable. I personally think "Annie Hall" is one of the most brilliant films ever made and very much deserving to be named Best Picture. "Star Wars" is legendary, but on more of a technical level, IMO. I know it's like comparing apples to oranges, but I feel the Academy did the right thing in awarding Best Picture to "Annie Hall."

My personal choice for biggest Academy blunder was awarding Best Picture to "Shakespeare in Love" over "Saving Private Ryan." And I really enjoy the works of Shakespeare, but I found the film just too middling and uninvolving. And Gwyneth's character far too annoying. "Private Ryan," IMO, is one of the top two or three greatest war films ever made. I was very disappointed that particular year.
Old 02-21-04, 04:57 PM
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Shocked they didn't put Anthony Hopkin's "Best Actor" win as an honorable mention. He was only in Silence of the Lambs for 20-30 minutes.
Old 02-21-04, 05:11 PM
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I'm sorry, but what an offensive piece of shit of an article. Benigni was God in that movie, and should have won Best Picture, too. Titanic deserved Best Picture. And, yes, Do the Right Thing should've got more nominations, but what a rediculous article. If they hate the winners so much, don't watch the next ceremony. It's that simple.
Old 02-21-04, 05:12 PM
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Scott Glen was in Silence of the Lambs longer than Sir Anthony Hopkins! Glen shoulda won that frickin' Oscar!
Frickin' a'...
Old 02-21-04, 05:18 PM
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Originally posted by RaynMan2019
Scott Glen was in Silence of the Lambs longer than Sir Anthony Hopkins! Glen shoulda won that frickin' Oscar!
Frickin' a'...
No.......he shouldn't have!
Old 02-21-04, 05:22 PM
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Originally posted by scroll2b
I'm sorry, but what an offensive piece of shit of an article. Benigni was God in that movie, and should have won Best Picture, too. Titanic deserved Best Picture. And, yes, Do the Right Thing should've got more nominations, but what a rediculous article. If they hate the winners so much, don't watch the next ceremony. It's that simple.
I completely agree with you on every word of your statement. I'm so tired of people bashing "Titanic." Before that film was released, many major critics fell all over themselves with praise. USA TODAY stated that "people all over the world will be greatly moved by this film." But once it becomes phenomenally popular with the masses then I guess there must be something wrong with it. "Titanic" was a highly entertaining, intricately detailed movie that was a wonderful throwback to the days when a movie was truly a spectacle and drew-in millions of people just by the sheer good word-of-mouth. Granted, the film didn't have the most sophisticated script, but almost everything else about it was just wonderful. BTW, anyone know the latest of a SE of this pic?

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