Best picture? Not in our books. A brief history of Oscar's biggest flubs
Published Sunday, March 4, 2018 9:03AM EST
Last Updated Sunday, March 4, 2018 12:55PM EST
Overwrought dramas, overly reverent bio-pics, self-serious art films – the Oscars are supposed to celebrate the best that film has to offer, but all too often, Academy voters go for the predictable over the experimental, the entertaining or the weird.
Last year, presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway may have announced the wrong winner, calling out ‘La La Land’ instead of 'Moonlight.' But in previous years, the actual winner turned out to be deeply wrong. Here’s a brief history of Oscars biggest mistakes.
Maybe us in the media are biased, but ‘Spotlight’ was a truly wonderful film showing just how hard-working, tenacious and good looking reporters usually are (most of us look like Rachel McAdams and Mark Ruffalo, we swear). Still, that was the year that the Oscars, normally averse to action films, nominated ‘Mad Max: Fury Road.’ Unlike other shoot-em ups, ‘Mad Max’ didn’t just feature crazy stunts and gonzo car chases – it had a deeply moving and compelling feminist subtext and message about authoritarianism. That should have been worth celebrating.
Less a movie than an experiment in narrative storytelling, Alejandro Inarritu’s ‘Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)' appeared to have been filmed in one shot. While a marvel of a technical accomplishment, did people really walk away as moved as they did from ‘Boyhood,’ ‘Selma’ or ‘Whiplash?’ We think not.
Perhaps the most notorious mess-up in Oscars history. The star-studded ‘Crash’ beat audiences over the head with its message, which boiled down to “Hey, isn’t everyone racist?” This was supposed to be the year of ‘Brokeback Mountain,’ an unconventional and touching story of forbidden love.
‘Saving Private Ryan’ is among the best, most riveting, most disturbing and most realistic war movies of all time. The scene depicting the landing of American troops on Normandy Beach is still shocking in its violence, making generations born long after World War II aware of the incredible sacrifice, terror and bravery of those who fought the Nazis. ‘Shakespeare in Love’ was about Shakespeare… being in love. Guess which one won?
While ‘Dances With Wolves’ is a fine film from the self-serious phase of Kevin Costner’s career. ‘Goodfellas’ isn’t just the best film of Martin Scorcese’s career, it’s the best gangster film of all time, still widely quoted and imitated almost 30 years later. It’s also funny… like a clown. Now go home and get your shine box.
The most iconic movie from 1989 turned out to not even be nominated. Spike Lee’s ‘Do The Right Thing’ is a furious manifesto about boiling race relations in Brooklyn. Ultimate winner ‘Driving Miss Daisy,’ a far more genteel take on racism, has not aged nearly as well.
The legacy of Woody Allen has taken a hit due to deeply disturbing allegations of child molestation but still, ‘Annie Hall’ was arguably his crowning achievement. That being said, ‘Star Wars’ is freaking ‘Star Wars' and we're still clammoring for sequels decades later. Perhaps George Lucas should have tried the Jedi mind trick on the Academy.