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Oscar travesties


The 2012 Oscar celebrations are about to begin but there are always question marks, such as why Drive was a bit shunned in the nominations and why that comedy which made you spurt fizzy pop out of your nose hasn't had a look in.

But these murmurs of displeasure are nothing compared to the cries of injustice that have met previous decisions by the Academy, and with the weapons of hindsight and sarcasm we are setting them to rights.....

(Images: Rex and Allstar)

The Shawshank Redemption losing Best Picture in 1994

David Letterman, as he himself will readily admit, bombed when hosting the Oscars in 1994. But maybe he already knew the biggest laugh of the night would be reserved for the Best Picture Award, which shunned both Pulp Fiction – Quentin Tarantino’s best effort to date – and The Shawshank Redemption – a DVD that 95 per cent of the world’s population now own - in favour of schmaltzy Star and Stripes-fest Forrest Gump.

Dances With Wolves beating Goodfellas in 1991

How we rue Martin Scorsese’s mob masterpiece falling at the final hurdle to Kevin Costner’s Civil War drama. After a string of Oscar failures, Goodfellas was seen as the film to recognise his trademark style. It didn’t. For historic accuracy it’s probably a good job that Sioux Indians didn’t beat their rivals with pool cues as a Motown record wailed away on the jukebox, but that’s the only way that Costner’s Western would’ve won our vote.

Shakespeare in Love winning Best Picture in 1999

Back when it was in profit, Miramax was the Cobra Kai Dojo of Hollywood with Bob and Harvey Weinstein squeezing votes from Academy members like it was milk money in the playground. At least this must have been the case in 1999 when their middling rom-com Shakespeare In Love pipped what was the dead-cert (Saving Private Ryan) to the post. Extra drearily, the film’s cast featured Martin Clunes.

Tommy Lee Jones winning Best Supporting Actor in 1993

Out-acting Daniel Day Lewis is never easy, but Pete Postlethwaite wolfed down twice the scenery his on-screen son did in In The Name of the Father. Stealing thunder from Harrison Ford, however, is like taking candy from a baby with terrible acting skills. It was no surprise then, that Tommy Lee Jones, who plays lawmen in his sleep, was marked out for praise for his US Marshall in The Fugitive. But good enough to win Hollywood gold? No, sir.

No win for Glengarry Glen Ross in 1993

Knockout performances from Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Kevin Spacey, Ed Harris and Alan Arkin, along with one of cinema’s most memorable cameos - Alec Baldwin’s tetchy, testosterone-riddled salesman tasked with pepping up a rabble of burnt out real estate agents – and only a measly Best Supporting Actor nomination between them. Even then, Pacino couldn’t bring home the bacon. He did nab the Best Actor gong for Scent of a Woman, though.

Hitchcock’s wooden spoon in 1967

At the 1967 Academy Awards, a portly figure marched up to claim an award. Microphone in hand and stony-faced, he uttered “Thank You” and promptly trod off the stage the way he had entered it. You can’t blame Alfred Hitchock for the short but sharp gratitude – it was only six years after Psycho had changed the narrative for leading actresses in cinema, not to mention the thoughts of habitual shower users everywhere, yet he was being given a life-time achievement award after six nominations and no win. Scandalous doesn't cover it.

My Fair Lady beating Doctor Strangelove to Best Picture in 1965

The Academy weren’t to know that half a century on and Stanley Kubrick’s madcap examination of Cold War paranoia would still be as relevant and thigh-slappingly funny as it was then. Although something should have twigged that behind Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison’s photogenic chemistry was a script as flat as some of notes attempted in a musical film that’s since been resigned to the odd screening on TCM.

How Green Was My Valley beating Citizen Kane to Best Picture in 1942

In seeing off competition from Citizen Kane and even The Maltese Falcon you’d think How Green Was My Valley? deserved its victory. And while a solid tale a tale of hardship faced by a family of Welsh miners it lacked the sombreness of director John Ford’s earlier film The Grapes of Wrath and the all-encompassing ability to capture the countryside like he did with The Quiet Man, meaning that not even a sentimental Rob Brydon could claim this Welsh drama as a justified Oscar winner.

Art Carney for beating Nicholson and Pacino for Best Actor 1975

Road movies never fail to tug at the heartstrings of Oscar voters. Add to this a fragile and naïve OAP who travels with a pet cat named Tonto, and you can understand why he might bag a Best Actor nomination. He did better than that, ousting iconic showings from Jack Nicholson in Chinatown and Al Pacino in The Godfather: Part II for the prize. Call us shallow, but the fact we can't see his performance on Blu-ray is the reason we begrudge him this win.

Kramer vs. Kramer beating Apocalypse Now in 1980

Though widely regarded as a masterpiece, Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam war opera failed to win the hearts and minds of the Academy in 1978. They favoured instead for Kramer vs. Kramer, a touching separation drama that understandably contained a lot less helicopter assaults, less overweight Marlon Brando, and certainly less napalm smelling.



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