Top Five… Moments The Oscars Got It Wrong

And the Oscar goes to… the totally wrong person! The Oscars are a bit like our parents – the reason we love ’em is because we very rarely agree with ’em. Here are the instances when the Academy voters really messed things up.

5. Al Pacino (Best Actor, 1992)

'This is who I wish to put forward to play Robin.'

The problem with being a really good actor come Oscar time is that the Academy often thinks you’re bound to be up for an award for another performance in a few years, thus you get overlooked. The other problem is that often that performance in a few years time turns out to be in some sickly, sentimental drivel. It is impossible to begrudge Al Pacino his Oscar. However, it is possible to begrudge a process that ensures he gets it for the slushy Scent Of A Woman and not The Godfather, The Godfather: Part II, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon or, ahem, Dick Tracy. This award is all the more insulting when you consider he was up against four really quite terrific performances: Robert Downey Jr in Chaplin, Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven, Stephen Rea in The Crying Game and Denzel Washington in Malcolm X. The Pity Oscars are called that for a reason… because they’re pitiful. Hoo-haa, indeed.

4. Hilary Swank (Best Actress, 2004)

Hilary Swank was fine as plucky boxer Maggie Fitzgerald in Million Dollar Baby. It’s just there wasn’t much depth to her performance. She’s plucky and she boxes. And that’s about it. The movie itself is Oscar-by-numbers filmmaking and Swank suffers for it. The real standout performance among the nominees that year was Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, who created a real, complex and interesting character, not a stereotype.

3. Ben Kingsley (Best Actor, 1982)

Right. What do you want in a good performance? Do you want to watch someone playing a figure who is pretty much hailed a saint? Or do you want to watch someone give a warts-and-all portrayal of a desperate man, who is a shadow of his former self, clawing his way out of self-disgust? (You can guess by the length of the sentences which one I would rather see.) Kingsley is good as Gandhi in Gandhi, but there’s just no edge to his performance. But he looks just like Gandhi, people say. Well, Dolph Lundgren looked just like He-Man, and I don’t remember any awards being thrown his way. Instead of Kingsley taking the Oscar, it should have went to Paul Newman for The Verdict. As drunk lawyer Frank Galvin, Newman probably turns in the finest display of his amazing career. And that is saying something. Kingsley was fantastic as a villain in Sexy Beast, but as good guy Gandhi (for more than three hours) he just doesn’t reach the heights scaled by Newman.

2. Tommy Lee Jones (Best Supporting Actor, 1993)

'Alright, I admit it: there's no way I was as good as Ralph Fiennes.'

This one is just ridiculous. Tommy Lee Jones lists buildings to search for Harrison Ford in The Fugitive, while Ralph Fiennes becomes a murderous, Jew-shooting Nazi in Schindler’s List. Who do you think gets the Oscar? Unbelievable.

1. Titanic (Best Picture, 1997)

I like Titanic. It’s a good film. It has an epic sweep about it that only someone like James Cameron can instil. But is it as good as LA Confidential? Is it as good as As Good As It Gets? Is it as good as Good Will Hunting? (Wow, wish I had have released a film with ‘good’ in the title in 1997, might have got an Oscar nom.) Is it as good as The Full Monty? Well, okay, it’s way better than The Full Monty but it cannot match the other nominees that year, especially LA Confidential. That Curtis Hanson’s film didn’t take Best Picture is a crime comparable to any investigated by Bud White and Ed Exley.




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26 Responses to “Top Five… Moments The Oscars Got It Wrong”

  1. Randoms…..

    Never mind beating Newman, Sir Ben Kingsley, also triumphed over Hoffman in Tootsie that year. Unbelievable. And Jack Lemmon in Missing.

    As Good As It Gets was awful. Would watch DiCaprio drown twice before watching that crap again.

    ‘It Should have Went’ – who wrote this, Glenn Hoddle?

  2. yeah, it probably should have GONE to Paul Newman… thanks David.
    our next post will be Top Five Moments Ross McG Got His Grammar Wrong
    mind you, could easily stretch that to a Top Ten

  3. I agreed with Titanic’s win. It was better than As Good As It Gets and Good Will Hunting, and L.A. Confidential was worthy of the argument to win but Titanic was a better movie.

    The rest, especially Al Pacino’s win (should’ve gone to RDJ-hands down) and Swanks win (which still seems a lazy heartless choice) are all valid points.

    The worst of all time, however, is Julia Roberts win instead of Ellen Burstyn. That was short of a criminal offense and still boils my blood.

  4. If there was an All Time Oscars, LA Confidential should probably get Best Picture. As much as I love Titanic, this decision undermined the Academy’s authority more than any before it

  5. Yeah, how the hell did Ralph Fiennes lose that one? Dude was effing EVIL.

    Wish Kingsley had won for Sexy Beast.

    And Titanic sucks.

  6. McD, you can’t be serious, you think LA Confidential is the best film ever?

    Other great crimes include Citizen Kane not receiving best picture and Hitchciock not getting Best Director for Psycho, there must have been some good black and white films about that year.

  7. Do they award for 6th best now?

  8. Well, we’re talking about ‘all time’, so there might be a few spot prizes on the night.
    Plus I don’t think the Academy would agree with my opinion that Jurassic Park is the third best film EVAH!
    The idiots

  9. Paul the Ball Says:

    I dont think Spielberg would agree with you either

  10. Think there should be a retrospective award for films that thought were good once but on reflection are crap, Jurassic Park would sweep the board.

  11. Dave, I respect, appreciate and treasure your opinion.
    But it is wrong

  12. Having just winced/looked at your top 10, I can live with that

  13. Send me your list, and a link to a good translator site, and an 8mm projector, and I’ll let yiou know what I think

  14. I can let you know what I think of you right now if you want

  15. sorry, i meant ‘yiou’

  16. The Oscar win that always makes me shake my head is Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich. Sure, it’s tops as far as Julia Roberts performances go. But it didn’t hold a candle to Ellen Burstyn’s work in Requiem for a Dream.

  17. McD….I dig your Top Ten save Moulin ROuge.

  18. Have to disagree with you on Hilary Swank, she really deserved it. I do agree about Tommy Lee Jones that was Ralph Fiennes Oscar all the way as mentioned in my Top Five Oscar Tragedies.

  19. Totally agree that the great “L.A.Confidential” should have won. Pacino in “Scent of a Woman” over Robert Downey Jr’s “Chaplin” is a disgrace.

  20. Oh man, I’ve forgotten all about being pissed off over Tommy Lee Jones winning over Ralph Fiennes.

  21. Branden Says:

    I agree with you here. Wholeheartedly.

  22. Far bigger gaffes abound. In my book, nothing tops Art Carney over Nicholson, Pacino, Hoffman, and Finney. Check it out:

  23. Heather, I dig your digging of my top ten, save your saving of Moulin Rouge
    I have even written a song about how awesome it is here

  24. The caption on that Pacino photo is hilarious.

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