Sunday, 27 February 2011

And the award for Best Picture goes to...

As the world yawns again at the prospect of tonight's glittering back-slapping marathon, The Oscars, it is worth taking a little look at some of the notable errors of judgement the Academy have made over the years.

Remarkably, right from the outset the award for Best Picture has been given to some surprising nominees, with films that are (in hindsight) much more warmly remembered missing out. Indeed the very first award in 1927 was given to a movie called Wings, while the masterpiece Metropolis (with its Oscar-like robot) missed out.

My top five movies that should have been "Best Picture" but weren't:
  • Citizen Kane (1941). A film that features regularly in polls of "best movie of all time", the Orson Welles masterpiece was overlooked in favour of How Green Was My Valley - ewww...
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Another all-time great in the history of cinematography, embarrassingly Mr Kubrick was sidelined in favour of none other than Oliver!. That must rank as one of the daftest choices of the lot - for although Lionel Bart's musical extravaganza is indeed a fab film, it pales in comparison.
  • Some Like It Hot (1959). The iconic Billy Wilder film, a house favourite here at Dolores Delargo Towers and beloved of many millions of people, was not even nominated for Best Picture. Ben Hur won.
  • Star Wars (1977). Another shock decision by the Oscars jury was the choice of Woody Allen's Annie Hall over the original (and best) of the multi-billion-dollar movie series.
  • The Graduate (1967). Miss Bancroft's finest hour lost out to In the Heat of the Night. Two great films; I know which I prefer!
There have been many more surprise losers over the years, on occasions due to the fact that the jury had a far more difficult choice between classic movies. In 1946, for example, neither Brief Encounter nor It's A Wonderful Life won; The Best Years of Our Lives did. Yet in 1950 the magnificent All About Eve swept the board, and the stunning The Third Man was not even on the list.

In 1939, the most famous year in Oscars history for contending classic films, several all-time favourites were up against each other. Movies such as The Wizard of Oz, Dark Victory, Goodbye Mr Chips, Mr Smith Goes to Washington, Wuthering Heights, Ninotchka, Of Mice and Men and Stagecoach were all in the contest. Personal favourite The Women wasn't even nominated. Inevitably, the (in my opinion very over-rated) Gone With The Wind was the eventual winner.

More recently, who would have thought that Apocalypse Now would have lost out to Kramer vs Kramer in 1979? Or The Killing Fields as runner-up to Amadeus in 1984? The Shawshank Redemption lost to Forrest Gump in 1994; and in 2005 Brokeback Mountain was controversially beaten by Crash (for gawd's sake!).

Oscars trivia:
  • The model for the Oscar statuette was a naked Mexican named Emilio Fernández, who had a platonic relationship with fellow Mexican and big Hollywood star Dolores del Río.
  • The three movies that won the most Oscars were Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003), Titanic (1997) and Ben Hur (1959). All three movies won 11 statuettes. (Second place is held by West Side Story which won ten Oscars in 1962.)
  • Walt Disney was the biggest winner in Oscars history. He walked away with 26 Academy Awards over his lifetime, and received 64 Oscar nominations in total.

The Oscars on Filmsite

Offical Oscars 2011 website


  1. I have grown very tired of the Oscars - havent even watched it in 15 years or so! I prefer the Golden Globes, they seem to be a lot more open to different films and performances, IMO. There have been so many films overlooked at the Oscars in the past, like your post points out, that to me it outwheighs the really good ones that actually did get awards (like "All About Eve"). The Oscars also often seem to be more of a polularity contest (like the Grammys) then about the actual talent on display. So, at this point I dont even bother with the nominations... PS: I really like "Gone With The Wind" - just not nearly as much as my beloved "Wizard Of Oz"! And dont get me started on the non-win of "Brokeback Mountain"!

  2. Yeah, ultimately everyone's a loser, baby.

  3. counting down...only 6 hours! the Oscars are always a little off, thats what makes it intresting to me...I hated the year that "Brokeback Mtn" didnt win, I swore I would never watch again...but I did, for me Its all about the red carpet!

  4. "It's all about the red carpet!" - I'll wait for the photos tomorrow I think... Jx

  5. I must agree with Marky - it really is all about the red carpet! Bring on the photos.

  6. the Oscars is always biased for the US - so The Social Network will probably win best picture … nevermind


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