10 Of The Biggest Mistakes In Oscar History

premiososcar 10 Of The Biggest Mistakes In Oscar History

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with the Academy, as many people often do. Usually, they tend to make decent decisions. They may not always choose the best in a given category, but they usually at least choose a decent representation for it. Of course, there are times when they are completely right on the nose (Casablanca, Lawrence of Arabia, Schindler’s List, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, etc.), but on the flip side, there are also moments where you have to question whether or not they’ve really seen all of the nominees.

Then again, there are also those that don’t take the Oscars all that seriously, thinking of it as more of a popularity contest with the Academy choosing what’s “hot” rather than the actual best nominee in a category (did anyone REALLY think Argo was the best film of 2012?). However, even as a popularity contest, some of their decisions have to be called out and examined, and so, in honor of the fast-approaching 86th Annual Academy Awards, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of the biggest mistakes they’ve made throughout their history.

Without further ado, let’s dive right in…


10. Bill Murray Loses Best Actor for Lost in Translation

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2004 is the best year that Oscar has seen in at least the past 20 years, with 11 Oscars going to The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. In my own humble opinion, this was the last time the Academy actually gave Best Picture to the best film of the year. The sweep for Lord of the Rings somewhat overshadowed a pretty big error on the Academy’s part though, this being that they failed to give Bill Murray the Best Actor Oscar for his brilliant performance in Sophia Coppola’s Lost in Translation. Instead, they opted to give the award to Sean Penn for his so-so performance in Clint Eastwood’s forgettable Mystic River, a film I’ve seen once and have had no desire to see again.

Lost in Translation is a film that I’ve seen around a dozen times at this point and I think it can easily be said that it is one of the best of the last ten years. In fact, if Return of the King hadn’t been around that year, it would have been the incredibly easy choice for Best Picture and Best Director. The film is anchored by Coppola’s outstanding Oscar-winning script and Bill Murray’s subtle, yet powerful portrayal of Bob Harris, an actor who’s adrift in Tokyo while shooting a whiskey commercial. When he meets a young woman (Scarlett Johansson) in a similar situation, the two open up to each other and develop a relationship that will redefine their lives. Murray is funny and charming, and yet he brings an amazing amount of gravitas to this man who is lost in his own life. We’d never seen Murray give a performance on this level before, and it’s doubtful that we ever will again. How was it that the Academy didn’t give him the Oscar? Perhaps it was because they just didn’t take him seriously enough, a theory which is somewhat supported by the fact that Johnny Depp won the SAG award for Best Actor that year for Pirates of the Caribbean and failed to win the Oscar as well. However it happened, it’s a big blemish on their record for a category in which they are normally really good at choosing a great performance.

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9. Pulp Fiction Loses Best Picture and Best Director to Forrest Gump

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1994 saw a few great choices in the Best Picture category, including Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, Robert Zemeckis’ Forrest Gump, and Robert Redford’s Quiz Show. However, the one that most people look back on as the film that should have won the big prize is Tarantino’s influential masterpiece. Few movies end up shaping a generation of filmmakers, but that’s just what Tarantino did with Pulp Fiction, a film that plays with structure while featuring tons of unforgettable dialogue and plot elements.

That being said, it’s hard to fault the Academy for going with Forrest Gump and Zemeckis for Best Picture and Best Director, respectively. It too is a great film, but Tarantino broke new ground with Pulp Fiction, and in the process created one of the greatest, most quotable, movies ever made. The film garnered seven Oscar nominations and walked away with Best Original Screenplay, a fitting consolation prize. However, the film had already won the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for 1994, so you don’t need to feel too bad for it. Like many of the movies that the Academy nominates for Best Picture, they just didn’t appreciate it enough when it came out. Now though, it’s highly regarded as one of the best films ever made. People still appreciate Forrest Gump to this day as well, but it just hasn’t had the long-lasting love that Tarantino’s masterpiece has had.

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8. The Lack of Major Nominations for The Dark Knight

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Everyone remembers that morning in January 2009 where we expected to see the Academy fall in line with the rest of the guilds by giving Christopher Nolan’s epic masterpiece The Dark Knight multiple nominations, including those for Best Picture and Best Director. Why would this happen? Well, the PGA, DGA, and WGA all nominated the film for its top honors, and given that those same organizations contain several Academy members as well, it just seemed natural. Plus, the film had done extremely well throughout the critics awards, receiving multiple nominations from major groups, including the BFCA, LAFCA, and the OFCS.

Back to that January morning though, the major categories are announced and the only nomination the film could squeeze out in the top categories was the one it was guaranteed to get all along: Best Supporting Actor for the late Heath Ledger. When the entire list was revealed, we saw that it had made a decent showing, earning eight nominations in total, but they were mostly for much smaller awards such as Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Makeup. Where were the nominations for Adapted Screenplay, Best Director and Best Picture? The film was a huge critical success, sitting at 94% (8.5/10) on Rotten Tomatoes and 82/100 on Metacritic. Something smelled very fishy here.

This was the last year that we had five nominees for Best Picture, so it didn’t take long to discover which was the sore thumb sticking out for the world to see. We had Slumdog Millionaire, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk, and…. The Reader?!? A film that had not been nominated by the PGA, DGA, WGA, or for the SAG Ensemble, a film that currently sits at 61% (6.4/10) on Rotten Tomatoes and 58/100 on Metacritic, had somehow found itself with Oscar nominations for Picture, Director, and Adapted Screenplay, among others. Interesting, no?

So how did things get so screwy? Bribery on the part of the Weinsteins is highly suspected. Of course, it’s just speculation, but how else do you explain such a crazy flip-flop? We all know what happened next. Due to the Academy’s terrible failure, they revised the Best Picture rules, giving us ten nominees in the top category (a change referred to by many as “The Dark Knight Rule”). Two years later, they revised their rules again, allowing for a maximum of ten based on the number of first place votes each film receives. Would we have such an over-abundance of Best Picture nominees if they had just done what they should have done back in 2009 by giving The Dark Knight the nominations it should have received? Who knows. Either way, even the Academy seems to acknowledge that this was a pretty big error on their part, though their tinkering doesn’t really help the fact that such a great and unforgettable film got snubbed for almost all of the major categories.

Right now many of you are probably thinking, “But The Dark Knight wouldn’t have won any of the major awards anyway.” Well, you’re right. Best Picture was all sealed up for Slumdog Millionaire with its wins from the PGA, DGA (pretty much guaranteeing it the Best Director Oscar), and SAG, and with its WGA win, Adapted Screenplay was going to follow. However, that’s beside the point. Them granting the nominations would show that they’re much more in tune with what were the best films of the year, regardless of whether it’s a “comic book movie” or their usual slate of dramas. By shoving it aside, they showed that they were still too rigid at the time to nominate something outside of their comfort zone, which is odd given that almost all of the major guilds had no problem doing so.

In an attempt to compensate, they’ve lazily expanded the category, which has allowed all kinds of weird choices to get in (District 9, Winter’s Bone, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, just to name a few). Hopefully one of these days we’ll get back down to just a few nominees. The expansion has somewhat cheapened the category, plus, you can usually tell which nominees are the top five anyway, so what’s the point? In their attempt to fix things, the Academy seems to have only screwed them up more. At the very least, they seem to have learned their lesson from this incident.

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7. Cloud Atlas Gets Completely Shut Out

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There have been a few times where I have been aghast at a film not receiving any nominations whatsoever. A masterpiece like Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain comes to mind, but the one that is truly shocking occurred just last year, when the Wachowski Bros. and Tom Tykwer’s sprawling epic Cloud Atlas was left completely out in the cold on the morning of the nominations. It’s a film that was big, bold, and very ambitious, reaching heights that few films dare even to reach for, and it succeeded better than any could have possibly expected. Unfortunately, the film had been given mixed reviews by critics, with some hailing it as a masterpiece while others found it too confusing (“unwieldy” as the Rotten Tomatoes consensus says), but most who watched it found it to be a rewarding experience.

As for my own experience with the film, I must admit, the first time I saw it I had liked it, but not loved it. It’s a lot to take in on one sitting, a lot to digest and mull over. What do the multiple storylines have to do with each other? What is the significance of the actors playing multiple characters? What’s with the birthmarks? What are the directors trying to show with these various bizarre tales? However, after thinking about it a long time and seeing the film again, I came to realize its brilliance. Here was an incredible set of stories of the oppressed and their oppressors sprawled across centuries, one linking to the next through various artifacts and themes. These three directors/writers took a huge gamble putting together a film this complex, and while the Cloud Atlas barely managed to eke out a profit from its worldwide gross, what they accomplished in terms of cinematic storytelling far outweighed the monetary gain.

There are easily cases to be made that the film should have been nominated for Best Picture, Best Director(s), Best Adapted Screenplay, and several of the smaller categories, including Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Makeup, Best Score, Best Sound Editing, and Best Sound Mixing. It certainly would have been a better choice than most of what was actually nominated, including the eventual Best Picture winner Argo.

The reason as to why it was shunned was more than likely the same reason that some critics didn’t completely hail it as the masterpiece it is. Like many of the critics, Academy members were probably left too confused to know what to make of it (like other sci-fi films in decades past). However, that doesn’t seem to explain why it would be ignored in all of the technical categories as well, unless they were just left feeling so confused by it that they felt the need to shun it everywhere. Whatever the reason, Cloud Atlas remains a masterpiece that will continue to be discussed and analyzed long after Argo and many of the other nominees that year are forgotten.

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6. Francis Ford Coppola Loses Best Director for The Godfather/The Godfather Wins Only Three Oscars

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Many people like to think back on Academy history and think, “well, of course Coppola won the Best Director Oscar for the first Godfather film. Duh!” Believe it or not, that’s not the way it happened. Despite winning the Directors Guild award, come Oscar night, Coppola was defeated by Bob Fosse for his direction on Cabaret. Let that sink in a minute: one of the best directed films of all time was defeated by Fosse’s direction on Cabaret. That’s not to insult Cabaret, which is a fine musical film. But to compare the direction, well, there there is no comparison. Coppola wins hands down. No question about it.

So what in the world happened here? Well, it could be that the Academy was still nostalgic for the days of musicals gone by. The 60s saw them giving four musicals Best Picture and Best Director, so still being in that state of mind, perhaps they just wanted to continue. But when it came right down to it, they couldn’t deny The Godfather Best Picture, so a split occurred. At least, this is my best guess. For all I know, they took leave of their senses and randomly voted. However it happened, it’s rather amusing to look back at it now and see where both films are. Nobody talks about Cabaret or how it was directed nowadays, but The Godfather is revered as one of the greatest films ever made, and is currently tied for #21 on the Critics poll and tied for #7 on the Directors poll for Sight & Sound (the most prestigious cinematic poll in the world). You won’t find Cabaret anywhere on either list.

What some may find even more shocking was that The Godfather, again, considered one of the greatest films ever made, only won a total of three Oscars (Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay). Besides not winning Best Director, it failed to take Best Film Editing or Best Supporting Actor (despite having three nominees in the category). Ironically, both of these also went to Cabaret. Joel Grey gives a fine performance in Cabaret, but he’s pretty much only there to sing songs on stage and doesn’t really get the chance to become a full character in the film. However, Al Pacino, James Caan, and Robert Duvall were nominated for The Godfather, and while Duvall isn’t in the film that much, Pacino and Caan deliver stunning performances that were both worthy of the Oscar.

Another shocking fact is that The Godfather wasn’t even nominated for Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, two more that most would just assume the film received. Take a guess which film received those awards instead. That’s right. Cabaret. At the end of the night, Cabaret took a total of eight Oscars, compared to Godfather’s three, an unheard of occurrence then and one that has not happened since, though we just might be seeing such a thing happen this year between Gravity and 12 Years a Slave.

You don’t have to feel too bad for Coppola though. The Academy would sort of make up for their mistake by awarding him Best Director for The Godfather Part II just two years later, though it still doesn’t excuse the fact that they pushed him aside for the first film. This is one of those errors that they’ve just had to live with. True, they goofed for Best Director, but at least they managed to give the film Best Picture. Can you imagine the uproar if they hadn’t been able to do that at least?

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5. Network Loses Best Picture and Best Director to Rocky

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Like 1994, 1976 had some incredible Best Picture nominees, including Taxi Driver and All the President’s Men. That year, they also included one of the best films ever made, the scorching television satire Network from director Sidney Lumet and Oscar-winning screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky. After winning Best Original Screenplay and three of the four acting awards, it was thought that perhaps the film was on its way to win the top prize, which it easily deserved over the other nominees. However, shockingly enough, Best Picture and Best Director went to Rocky and its director, John G. Avildsen.

Rocky is an overly-simplistic, straightforward boxing film with a languid pace that doesn’t really have much of anything special about it, but Network was relevant then and is still relevant now, showing that TV personalities can amass a large number of followers and have incredible influence over them. This is demonstrated most famously by the infamous scene (which you can watch below) in which Howard Beale (played by the great Oscar winner Peter Finch) tells his viewers to get up, go over to a window, and shout “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!,” which they do. To this day, it is still talked about and analyzed quite a bit. For sure, Rocky is still talked about as well, but mainly for its simple underdog story. Network is a film with great depth that the Academy should have taken better notice of. Of course, walking away with four major Oscars (one more than Rocky) isn’t bad, but for a film this good, the top two should have been included without question.

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4. Inglourious Basterds Wins Only One Oscar

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2010 saw the PGA and DGA awards going to the overrated film The Hurt Locker, so by this time, we already knew which film was more than likely going to be taking home the Best Picture Oscar on the big night. It was a somewhat special night as we also knew that there was a great chance we would be seeing the first woman win the Oscar for Best Director, but what I and many others were hoping to see was Quentin Taratino take his much-deserved Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for his brilliant script to Inglourious Basterds.

It’s an award he had won in several places throughout awards season, including wins from the BFCA and the OFCS (it was “disqualified” from the WGA awards). However, that night it was like a punch to the gut when they announced The Hurt Locker had won the award. A bland, forgettable script with little substance had somehow beaten one of the sharpest-written scripts in the last decade. The explanation for this was pretty clear: They thought The Hurt Locker was the better film, so they felt the need to justify it by giving it a screenplay award as well (similar to what happened with Argo).

To make matters worse, Inglourious Basterds was shot down for all but one of its eight nominations, receiving Best Supporting Actor for Christoph Waltz’s amazing performance. We already knew Picture and Director were pretty much out of the mix, but to swipe Film Editing and Cinematography from it as well is just inexplicable, especially when you see that Film Editing went to The Hurt Locker and Cinematography went to Avatar. When the latter happened, I was expecting them to roll a computer on stage to accept the award (as well as when it inexplicably won Best Art Direction) as it was basically an insult to the other nominees.

Now don’t get me wrong, The Hurt Locker is an ok film, but I’ve never had the urge to watch it a second time. It’s simply not in the same league as Inglourious Basterds, a film that had more suspense in its first scene (check out a clip from it below) than Hurt Locker had throughout its entire runtime. That night should have seen a sweep for Tarantino’s masterpiece, but as the Academy often does, they chose a film that becomes forgotten by the time the next Oscars roll around. While Basterds is still discussed to this day for its incredible dialogue and thrilling plot, Hurt Locker has faded away, merely to be mentioned as a footnote for the first woman to win the Best Director Oscar.

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3. Goodfellas Loses Best Picture and Best Director to Dances with Wolves

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It’s one of the most inexplicable decisions in the Academy’s history. Somehow, Kevin Costner’s Dances with Wolves managed to defeat Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece Goodfellas and took home Best Picture and Best Director. After going on a spree of wins throughout the critics awards, including wins with the NYFCC, NSFC, and LAFCA, Goodfellas lost momentum with the major guilds and ultimately walked away with just one Oscar (Best Supporting Actor for Joe Pesci).

I can imagine that everyone had a good laugh at the Academy that year when the winners were announced. The British Academy had managed to get it right, awarding Goodfellas Best Film, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay, among others, but for some reason, instead of Scorsese’s quintessential mobster film, the American Academy opted to go with a film about a man who becomes close to a group of Native Americans on the Frontier. Again, don’t get me wrong. Dances with Wolves is a fine film, but it’s no Goodfellas, as anyone can attest. To this day I have not found one person who thinks that Costner’s film is better than Scorsese’s, and it’s doubtful that I ever will. If things had gone as they should have, Scorsese would have had his directing Oscar 16 years earlier and for an even better film than what he eventually won for (The Departed).

So how did this egregious error end up happening? Well, the best way to explain it is that the Academy tends to choose films that are easier for them to digest (Argo, The Artist, The King’s Speech, etc.), not necessarily the ones that are better. Goodfellas was probably too much for them to take in at the time, but as we can clearly see, it went on to be regarded as the better film down the road. Looking at the Sight & Sound poll, Goodfellas is tied at #171 with the critics and tied at #48 with the directors, whereas Dances with Wolves is completely absent from both lists. It’s one of those things that’s very hard to believe, but believe it or not, it did happen, making it just another incident that the Academy has to look back on and blush at.

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2. Million Dollar Baby Wins Four Oscars, Including Best Picture and Best Director

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With 2004 being the best year that Oscar had seen in a long time, I suppose the Academy felt the need to balance out the yin and the yang by giving us the worst year Oscar has seen in a long time. The 2005 Oscars weren’t all bad. In fact, several great decisions were made that night. As the technical categories progressed, we saw Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator cleaning up pretty well. It even went on to claim Best Supporting Actress for Cate Blanchett. Original Screenplay went to the great Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Adapted Screenplay went to the wonderful Sideways. However, when we started getting to the other top categories, things went terribly wrong.

First off, Morgan Freeman, an actor I love in nearly everything he’s ever done, took Best Supporting Actor for a role that was very much beneath him. In fact, throughout Million Dollar Baby, he’s basically doing an impression of Clint Eastwood by putting on a ridiculous low, gravelly voice, and yet, the Academy decided to give him Best Supporting Actor for it. The best way to figure this is that they either wanted to make up for not having given him the Oscar for Driving Miss Daisy, or they thought that perhaps he might never get another nomination again, so best to award him now before it’s too late. Either way, there were far better performances in the category, including Thomas Hayden Church in Sideways and Alan Alda in The Aviator.

When it comes to Hillary Swank winning Best Actress, she wasn’t a terrible choice, but she doesn’t really do anything special in the film. That year, my vote would more than likely have gone to Kate Winslet for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, an outstanding performance that left a much bigger impact. As for Clint Eastwood taking Best Director, it’s the most understandable of the film’s four Oscars. The direction is well done, but again, there were better candidates in Martin Scorsese (The Aviator) and Alexander Payne (Sideways).

At this point, the ceremony was heading for an alarming crash ending, and that’s exactly what we got when Million Dollar Baby was announced as Best Picture of the Year. When I saw the film back in 2004, I was aghast that the Academy would give it their top prize. Re-watching it this week, for the first time in ten years, my original opinion hasn’t changed much. The first two-thirds of the film are basically your standard underdog boxing movie, packed to the brim with clichés, while the final act is so unbelievable and so filled with melodrama that even soap opera stars would blush at it. I think it’s widely acknowledged that this is the worst choice for Best Picture in the last ten years.

Looking back over the other nominees for Best Picture that year, we find great films like Sideways and The Aviator (sadly, the Academy had completely failed to nominate the great Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind for the top prize), either of which would have been a far better choice to represent the year. Instead, they selected a generic boxing film that has already been long forgotten. But what makes it an even stranger choice on their part was that The Aviator had won the Producers Guild award that year, giving it the edge for Best Picture, while Million Dollar Baby had only won the Directors Guild award, giving it the edge for the corresponding Oscar that did indeed go to Eastwood. On top of that, the HFPA gave Best Drama to The Aviator and Best Musical/Comedy to Sideways, while the BFCA and SAG gave Sideways their top honors (Best Picture and Best Ensemble, respectively). All this is to say that it seems the Academy went way out of their way to choose a bad film for their top prize. In the end, they pushed two great films aside to grab from the bottom of the Best Picture barrel, resulting in one of their worst decisions of all time.

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1. Stanley Kubrick Never Won a Directing Oscar/His Films Never Won Best Picture

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There have been a few great directors who never won a Best Director Oscar, including Alfred Hitchcock, while others are simply still working at accomplishing the great feat, such as Quentin Tarantino and Christopher Nolan. However, no shut out has been as downright perplexing and as thoroughly embarrassing for the Academy as the fact that the greatest filmmaker of all time, Stanley Kubrick, never won a directing Oscar throughout his amazing career, despite being nominated for four masterpieces in a row in the 60s and 70s. As if that wasn’t bad enough, three of the four films he was nominated for were up for Best Picture, but were ultimately rejected for their award as well. To see just how massive an error this was, let’s look at it on a case by case basis.

The first time Kubrick was up for a directing Oscar was in 1965 for his satirical masterpiece Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, a film that is regularly included on lists of the greatest films ever made. It is a masterwork, featuring brilliant direction, stunning performances, incredible set design, and an unforgettable screenplay (“Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room!”). So what film did the Academy feel was better than one that’s considered one of the very best? The answer may surprise you, but it’s the musical My Fair Lady, which took three of the four Oscars that Strangelove was nominated for (Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor), while the fourth, Adapted Screenplay, was snatched away by Becket (another great film).

The best explanation I’ve ever come up with for these errors is that it was simply too much for the Academy to take in at the time. To make a black comedy about nuclear annihilation in the middle of the Cold War was a gutsy move for Kubrick and, like many of his films, it ended up being rather controversial.

Just a few years later, in 1969, we come to the single biggest pair of errors ever committed by the Academy. This is the year that the greatest film ever made, 2001: A Space Odyssey, was nominated for four Academy Awards (Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, and Best Visual Effects). No, your eyes don’t deceive you. The greatest film ever made was NOT nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. As if that wasn’t embarrassing enough, when the ceremony rolled around, instead of giving the Best Director Oscar to Kubrick, the obvious choice among the five nominees, the Academy opted to give the award to Carol Reed for Oliver!

That’s right, Kubrick had been defeated by another musical director. However, this time it was for a musical that has faded away completely from the minds of everyone who ever saw it. Not that it was a terrible film, but it just makes me blush every time I think of the fact that they opted to give Best Director to a forgettable musical over the brilliance that Kubrick displays in 2001. At the very least, Kubrick’s film walked away with Best Visual Effects (somehow it lost Best Art Direction-Set Decoration to Oliver! as well, while Best Original Screenplay went to Mel Brooks’ The Producers), but it doesn’t begin to make up for the mind-numbing mistakes made that year.

How do we explain this? Well, like Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey was a film ahead of its time. Before 1968, science-fiction was mainly seen as a B-movie genre that no one took seriously, so when Kubrick came along with this deep, philosophical film, many just weren’t sure what to make of it. Granted, there were a few who saw it for the masterpiece it was (Roger Ebert gave it four stars when it was released), but for the most part, audiences were perplexed as to the meaning of it.

However, that really only seems to explain why it wouldn’t have been nominated for Best Picture. Even if you don’t understand the film, it’s rather hard to deny that the direction is stunning. This is another case where it’s rather amusing to look back and see that Oliver! has been completely forgotten now, whereas 2001: A Space Odyssey is always included on lists of the best films ever made. On the latest Sight & Sound poll, it took #6 on the Critics’ poll and tied for #2 (with Citizen Kane) on the Directors’ poll. These terrible mistakes will forever be a stain on the Academy’s record, mistakes that I hope still torture the surviving Academy members who helped make it so to this day.

Kubrick’s next masterpiece, A Clockwork Orange, was also nominated for four Oscars (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Film Editing), showing that four was becoming the director’s magic number. This time, his film told the tale of a gang of vicious young hoodlums terrifying the citizens of dystopian Britain and the attempt to reform one of them through an experimental treatment that makes him sick at the thought of violence. As usual, controversy followed, this time in the form of copycat attacks, causing Kubrick to withdraw the film from distribution in the UK. Luckily, the Academy didn’t let controversy stop them from giving it the nominations it deserved.  However, whether or not it would be allowed to win was another matter.

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Ultimately it was defeated in all four categories, with all four awards going to William Friedkin’s outstanding The French Connection. This is the one “Kubrick year” where I don’t blame the Academy as much for their decision as in the other years he was nominated. The French Connection is a great film, featuring marvellous direction from Friedkin. It’s not as good as A Clockwork Orange (#75 on the Sight & Sound Directors’ poll, #235 on the Critics’ poll), but it was still a fine choice to represent the year.

The fourth and final time Stanley Kubrick was nominated for the Best Director Oscar came in 1976, where his next masterpiece, Barry Lyndon, was nominated for seven Academy Awards (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Costumes, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, and Best Original Song Score and/or Adapted Score), the most of any Kubrick film. Ultimately, it walked away with four of these, but strangely none of them for Kubrick. In fact, taking a look at the three it didn’t get, we find a disappointing commonality: Best Adapted Screenplay (Stanley Kubrick), Best Director (Stanley Kubrick), and Best Picture (Producer: Stanley Kubrick).

It was these three that would go to Milos Forman’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, a film that I have found rather overrated.  It’s a decent film, but it’s only really memorable for Jack Nicholson’s great, Oscar-winning performance. Forman’s direction doesn’t leave a mark (not like the brilliant direction he would do several years later for his masterpiece Amadeus), nor does the script really have anything memorable about it. Looking at Barry Lyndon, we find one of the most beautiful films ever made, which the Academy acknowledged with Oscars for its Costumes, Art Direction-Set Decoration, and Cinematography, but as to how they left Kubrick in the dust for his gorgeous direction is beyond comprehension. This is a film so expertly crafted, so minutely detailed in Kubrick’s framing of every shot, that any Academy member could rightly be called a fool for not casting their vote in Kubrick’s direction.

As for the film itself, it has become Kubrick’s forgotten masterpiece, one that is usually only briefly mentioned (if mentioned at all), normally tossed aside in favor of discussion of 2001, Dr. Strangelove or A Clockwork Orange. In fact, if I were to ask how many of you had actually seen it, I would probably be thoroughly depressed at the result. It is a stunning epic that sweeps you into the adventures of a young Irish lad who is forced to leave home after defeating a rival in a duel. His journey has him joining the army, fighting a few battles in the Seven Years War, and eventually winning the hand of the beautiful (and rich) Lady Lyndon, but that’s where the story takes a somewhat dark turn.

There have been those that describe the film as a painting come to life, but aside from its look, there is so much more to admire: an unpredictable story, a great performance from Ryan O’Neal, an elegant screenplay and of course, Kubrick’s skilled direction. Turning back one last time to the Sight & Sound poll, we find the film tied at #59 on the Critics’ poll and tied for #19 on the Directors’ poll. It should be noted that Cuckoo’s Nest also makes an appearance on the Directors’ poll, but much further down where it’s tied at #48. However, it does not make an appearance on the Critics’ poll, even with 250 films on the list.

So why did the Academy go with Cuckoo’s Nest instead of Barry Lyndon? It’s a good question. Another good question would be why they went with Cuckoo’s Nest over Dog Day Afternoon and Jaws as well, two other superior films. As for why they passed on Lyndon, it could be because the film has a purposeful detached feeling to it. At first, Kubrick wants to take you along on Barry’s adventure, making you feel bad for him as he is forced into one situation after another, but as the film goes on, he gradually distances you from the character, for when we come to the second half of the film, we discover just what kind of a person he really is. But again, this really only seems to explain Best Picture. How Kubrick didn’t receive the Best Director Oscar in an easy victory is a mystery left to the ages and another embarrassment that the Academy will have to live with on its record forever.

This one entry on this list may have been cheating a bit, but it seemed a lot easier to encompass the vast number of errors the Academy made in regards to the great Stanley Kubrick in one spot as opposed to spreading them all out. It really could have been its own list, but that would’ve been somewhat monotonous. Suffice it to say that it’s unclear as to why the Academy spurned Kubrick so much, awarding him only one Oscar for the Visual Effects on 2001: A Space Odyssey. We can only speculate as to why he was shot down all four times for director, even when it was clear he was the best nominee. Whatever the reason, he, like Hitchcock, was never truly honored by the Academy for his incredible artistic vision, and yet, you’ll scarcely see a list of the greatest directors of all time without his name mentioned. All we can do at this point is look back at their history and shake our heads in shame and sadness at their terrible oversight.

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  • DaWe

    Can’t say I agree with any of your points, except maybe Cloud Atlas should have been nominated for a few categories, but I still wouldn’t call that a big mistake. Concerning the others, I think that would have been a mistake, if those had won.

  • CryWolf

    Opinions are just that. Like mine being that Inglorious Basterds ( ditto to Django Unchained ) was an overrated mess and Cloud Atlas was an incomprehensible train wreck with pretty and popular stars. I’m actually surprised to see that you left off Halle Berry’s Best Actress win for Monster’s Ball. Personally, I thought she deserved her win but I know many hate the fact that she did for a “stereotype role”.

    • westseadoc

      That “stereotype role” required a lot more acting to bring out her human qualities beyond the racial issue. I think she deserved it. Lupita’s role did not take much nuance because her role was written as to be so dehumanizing that over acting and high intensity was an easy call. Then, it only took the ability to emote the normal human responses to horrifying situations. It isn’t that her performance wasn’t outstanding and intense. It’s just that the actual skill in acting needed to bring that character to life was of a lesser stretch than some of the other roles that the other actresses portrayed. Hers was the more emotion evoking role but I can’t say it was the best acted in the technical sense.

  • Larry Vegas

    Goodfellas: Keanu Reeves eating a cupcake?

    • Jeff Beck

      Yeah… I have no idea what that was from. Swapped it out.

  • doc

    You might as well lump Crash, Ordinary People and Shakespeare in Love in there too while your at it. I had to scroll back up to make sure this article wasn’t written 2 years ago and just updated with a few movies to make it seem more relevant.

    • westseadoc

      I’d leave Crash as ok but would substitute Traffic.

  • Forrealz

    This moron just said Rocky doesn’t have anything “special” about it, but let me ask you how many people remember the movie Network? Nobody. Cloud Atlas was complete garbage. Forrest Gump easily beat out Tarantino.

    • Jeff Beck

      You’re welcome to your own opinion obviously, but Network is still regarded as the better film to this day. How many people remember it? Everyone except you apparently. Whether or not most people found Cloud Atlas to be a masterpiece or not, the majority of critics liked it. I’d hardly say that Forrest Gump “easily” beat out Tarantino. There were so many great nominees that year that the votes were probably spread across the board, meaning that Gump probably won by a pretty small margin (in Picture and Director).

    • skunkybeaumont

      Yeah, Network is referenced as much as Airplane and Dr. Strangelove, you just have to know your film history to recognize it.

    • westseadoc

      You simply have to watch “Network.” It’s a scathing satire on the “entertainment and news industry” … it is more true now than ever before as entertainment as news and attempts to increase the entertainment content in news programs closes the gap between the two. With Ratings being such a driving force and $$ being the paramount arbiter to excellence, the world of “Network” is closer to today than it was even then.

  • Forrealz

    I think this guy writing doesn’t understand the difference between Goodfellas and Dances with Wolves. Yes, Goodfellas was an amazing movie, but Dances with Wolves is not only a great movie but incorporates a topic lots of people have long pushed to the back of their mind. Movies aren’t just about the movie bro. I will agree that Million Dollar Baby was such an annoying film.

    • UN

      just consider which movie is more memorable today goodfellas or dances wit….

    • westseadoc

      Yes. DWW was more topical but it wasn’t as groundbreaking for its story telling, its direction and storytelling. This year, it was almost a given the 12 Years A Slave was going to win Best Picture and Lupita was going to win “Best Supporting Actress” simply because the members of the Academy just can’t bring themselves to vote against anything that has a them celebrating overcoming odds and makes social-political commentary. It would feel awkward to vote against it and pretty good to vote for it, whether you believed that intellectually or not. Then fawning over Sydney Poitier only added to the evening’s tilt. It isn’t that he doesn’t deserve honors for his groundbreaking filmwork, but it ignores that he was only acting out the roles that someone else had the courage to support monetarily and studio-wise. It ignored the writers and directors and producers without whom none of his performances would ever have been put onto celluloid. It was a great picture so I have no problem with the choice for BP and Lupita gave a searing performance, but I submit tat the role was written so that giving a searing performance was not a great stretch and subtlety and acting nuance was not needed, only intensity of emotion — something that should be in the wheelhouse of any acatress. The actress in Blue Jasmine (can’t recall name right now) probably should have won with Jennifer Lawrence an extremely close 2nd. Their roles required real acting chops to bring depth of character to their roles and skill to make them human.

  • markbot2

    The way to understand these goofs is to know the demographic composition of the Academy. These decisions are easy to understand based on that.

  • Bubbagump

    I’m surprised there wasn’t a “No Wins for The Shawshank Redemption” on here.

  • RazorShines

    Raging Bull should have won Bext a Picture and Director for Scorsese over Robert Redford and Ordinary People, Oliver Stone for JFK over Jon Demme for Silence of the Lambs, Mickey Rourke for The Wrstler over Sean Penn in Milk, Eddie Murphy in Dreamgirls over Alan Arkin in Lil Miss Sunshine, Ben Affleck not getting nominated for Argo, Tommy Lee Jones for The Fugitive over Leo DiCaprio in Whats Eating Gilbert Grape, and of course Art Carney for Harry and Tonto over Al Pacino in The Godfather Part II or Jack Nicholson in China Town. Just to name a few others

  • UN

    i agree with all the points apart from the one about million dollar baby

  • UN

    another point hurtlocker winning should have been mentioned here

  • James325

    I don’t agree with any of these, except for #1. Rocky is a much better film than Network. Dance With Wolves is on another level. Now in my opinion for the biggest mistakes, The Assassination of Jesse James (2007) deserved it. Robert Shaw should have gotten an Oscar in the 70s for The Sting or Jaws. And Christian Bale got robbed out for not getting an Oscar for his portayal of Bateman in American Psycho.

  • Fuckyoubitch

    Brilliant article, I concer a 100%

  • Fuckyoubitch

    Only thing I would add would be Ed norton being robbed twice

  • jenkins the 3rd

    Soooo you don’t think al pachino winning best actor for scent of a woman over denzel Washington (in perhaps his greatest role to date) in malcom x deserved a spot on this list? Even the academy knew they shit the bed an gave him his “make up” oscar for his good but not great performance in training day

  • Adam Scullin

    I have mixed feelings about this article. I agreed with some things (The Dark Knight), didn’t understand others (haven’t seen Goodfellas or Dances With Wolves) and was completely dumbfounded by some (Rocky is a simplistic, straightforward boxing film with nothing special to it?!). I won’t argue any of these points, they’re all just personal opinion. The only gripe that I will write down is that you said Pulp Fiction should’ve won over Forrest Gump? I disagree, but as I said that’s your opinion, and it’s now what I’m complaining about. If you ever, ever, EVER speak about the 1995 Academy Awards and neglect to mention the most commonly agreed upon ‘greatest film of all time’ and my personal favourite, The Shawshank Redemption!

    • Adam Scullin

      don’t forget to mention*

      • skunkybeaumont

        Rocky IS a simplistic straightforward boxing film with nothing special to it. I was a great effort, great cast, great direction, great score. Deserving of the respect it gets, nothing groundbreaking or world changing though.

        • andrikos_of_steel

          Opinions stated as facts again…

        • George

          It was one of the first spots movie to have the protagonist lose the fight and still end up wining in the end. It was also one of the first sports movies to be emotional. Not groundbreaking? Maybe not, but it had some “firsts”.

        • Adam Scullin

          Sorry to reply so late. I can agree that it’s a straightforward film, but I didn’t find it to be so simplistic. To me, the lesson on ‘going the distance’ and not necessarily winning but sticking to the end was a very strong and important lesson. True, it is a lesson that you will learn from many different people and things, but I felt that Rocky was one of the greatest things to get that message across. Anyway, that’s how I don’t see it as simplistic, but I can imagine that if you’re a person that that message didn’t connect with as much, the film certainly would’ve been a simplistic viewing, I see where you’re coming from

    • skunkybeaumont

      I still lend credence to the conspiracy that WB had Heath Ledger killed for marketing purposes. The Dark Knight was the best film in a mediocre trilogy overloaded with sound and visuals, high on characters, low on story.

    • Chris

      Putting this argument in perspective is very simple. Let’s say, hypothetically, that you’re a film historian. Your latest project is an encyclopedic study of the entire history of American cinema. If your book includes no mention of Forrest Gump, so be it. You’re fine… a forgivable omission. If your book includes no mention of Pulp Fiction, you’ve just lost your credibility. Forrest Gump is a fantastic film, but it’s impact on the overall narrative of American filmmaking is quite minimal. Pulp Fiction directly impacted the course, the shape, and the color of cinema worldwide. The story of America’s film legacy can’t be told without it.

  • Silverbrain

    Ridley Scott not getting best director for Gladiator, even though it won best picture/actor/effects/sound/costumes. Russell Crowe not getting best actor in A Beautiful Mind, but the movie winning best picture/actress/director/writing.

    • skunkybeaumont

      Russell Crowe didn’t win for A Beautiful Mind? Wow, I had forgotten about that.

  • tedh754

    Anytime you have more than one actor/actress from the same film nominated in the same category, it seems that the award will go to someone from another film. I guess they split the vote. Remember Hoffman/Voight for Midnight Cowboy?

  • Juan Jose Morales

    OUT OF mAFRICAn mind with boredom–no plot, no characters, no dramatic conflict, no memorable dialogue-merely a National Geographic documentary in which Streepthroat and Redfondue are just standing in front of the camera blocking the view of the beautiful flora and fauna of Kenya–ruined my opinion of the Oscar to such an extent that now I pay absolutely no attention to whatever movies it chooses to reward.

    • Jeff Beck

      I’ve only seen two of the other nominees that year (in addition to Africa), but I didn’t really feel strongly about any of them. IMO, director should have gone to Kurosawa for Ran without question, and the film should have been up for BP. It’s shocking that he was only nominated the one time.

    • Sean Penn

      what a moron!!

  • Anders

    I agree with Goodfellas and Stanley kubrick. I would like to add ingmar Bergman to the list.

  • Luke

    This article is like a fanboy’s wet dream. The author doesn’t understand why the Academy chose Dances With Wolves over Goodfellas, why Forrest Gump won Best Picture over Pulp Fiction, why Avatar TOTALLY deserved Best Art Direction. I mean, look at the immature insults that the author uses to make himself out to appear superior.

    • Jeff Beck

      Wolves and Gump won because they were much easier for the Academy to handle. Nothing to understand there. As to why Avatar deserved Art Direction, I’d love to hear. This ought to be good.

      • westseadoc

        You might have mentioned the Academy tends to vote for films that make it easy on their perception of themselves. This is why social commentary films that promote exposure of, correction of, or evoke negative emotions to, social injustice do well. I won big bets ($$$) on DWW (which BTW I liked), FG, and this years TYAS because I knew the Academy just can’t resist showing how “progressive and enlightened” they are in their thinking. This does not mean such were not good films in and of themselves and were not worthy winners, but rather I was betting on the Academy’s tendency to be afraid to be anything less than progressive in their voting. Hence such films have a leg up on their competitors on a year over year basis. It’s the same reason that if Mother Teresa ran on the Republican Ticket and Hitler ran as a Democrat, the winner would be a coin toss. To quote Brad Pitt re: TYAS

        “It’s important that we understand our history, not for any kind of guilt, but that we understand who we were so that we can better understand who we are now, and why we’re having the specific problems we’re having or the successes were having,” he said. “Most importantly who we’re going to be.”
        “At the end of the day we just hope that this film remains a gentle reminder that we’re all equal,” Pitt said. “We all want the same, we want dignity and opportunity for ourselves and our family.”

        “It’s been a long run, and this is very, very, very exciting moment for us,” Pitt said. “It’s a real joy and something to ruminate on and really understand what it all means. At the same time, when the film was complete, I had this also this extraordinary feeling knowing that this is a film that will ‑‑ that has legs, that will be around and be speaking to people for many, many years, and that’s the biggest pride.”

        Now, can you imagine the majority of the academy voting against that? It’s not that the film isn’t relevant or great … only that it was a shoo-in for BP despite the buzz that other films had garnered.

  • PeteU

    An interesting take. Some points agree with, some I don’t, and some I don’t really have much of an opinion either way. A couple worth mentioning:

    Cloud Atlas was most definitely jipped at the Oscars. If not for Best Picture, then at least something like cinematography or best supporting actress for Doona Bae. It was a masterpiece, plain and simple, and I think as time goes on it will be recognized by more and more people as such. But I think the reason it got shut out (even of nominations, let alone awards) was that it had such an ambitious scale that people really didn’t know what to make of it on an initial viewing. It really is a movie that requires multiple viewings to truly appreciate. For those without such patience, Cloud Atlas gets passed by the wayside. (That being said, the best picture that year, Argo, was quite a fine film in its own right, and was most deserving of all the films that were actually nominated. But it’s a damn shame the academy passed over Cloud Atlas.)

    Now, Dances with Wolves versus Goodfellas. I can’t say whether or not DWW was a better movie than Goodfellas. I will say, however, I enjoyed DWW much more than Goodfellas. Don’t get me wrong. Scorsee did a fine job with Goodfellas. The acting and writing were all top notch. But here’s Goodfellas’ problem: it does not have one single likeable character in it. Every one of them comes off as despicable beyond redemption. Even in other mob dramas (Godfather, The Sopranos) you find yourself somewhat shamefully rooting for the anti-hero progatonist, but there’s just none of that to be had in Goodfellas. Perhaps that’s the result of it being loosely based on a real story, but I think it suffers from the fact that you just don’t care about any of the characters. Whereas DWW has a very sympathetic protagonist. So, DWW was simply more engaging in terms of it’s characters, and that’s probably why it got the edge.

    The same could probably be said for why Forrest Gump got the nod over Pulp Fiction–likeable main characters win out all the time. Although I do think the characters in Pulp Fiction were more engaging than in Goodfellas.

    One that you neglected to mention: The schlocky English Patient getting the best picture award over Fargo, which I maintain is the Coen brothers’ finest work. (I’d like to think the best picture award for No Country for Old Men–a decent movie but not the Coen’s best, IMHO–was in part an apology from the academy for their screw up in overlooking Fargo.)

  • Ben Johnson

    Hold up! You missed a huuuuuge mistake!!! Saving Private Ryan was beat out by Shakespeare in Love. Nothing against Shakespeare In Love, by Ryan is one the of the most classic war movies of all time. Most people have never even seen Shakespeare In Love.

    • Jeff Beck

      I don’t find it a mistake at all. Saving Private Ryan is a great film, but it’s mainly known for its opening war scene (the main reason Spielberg won Best Director). The rest of it is a standard war picture. Shakespeare in Love is brilliantly written, acted, and directed. On top of that, I find it far more memorable, and so I fully agree with the Academy’s decision that year.

  • Kensal

    it is a terrible oversight…i would even go by saying that hitchcock is an even greater oversight than kubrick…when you think about the films that hitchcock made, in that era of cinema…to think that he was never given an oscar is an absolute disgrace to mankind…truly and utterly distasteful.

  • Ray Stark

    I appreciate that you put Kubrick’s multiple snubs as the biggest Academy mistake. Between him and Hitchcock, I can’t take the Oscars seriously. I don’t agree with The Dark Knight…one of the most overrated movies of all time. Otherwise, great list.

  • jacob

    Love this article, one of the best I’ve read! I completely agree with every point you made actually! I definitely thought Argo was overrated; Zero Dark Thirty or Django Unchained should’ve won, maybe even Les Miserables. Pulp Fiction did deserve to win director + picture, as did The Dark Knight! But the one thing that still angers me to this day is the fact that Hurt Locker beat Inglourious Basterds! The latter should have won everything it was nominated for in my opinion, the best film of the last 20 years by miles. And the one Oscar I can’t believe it lost was indeed Original Screenplay. Genuine travesty. Also, I feel the Academy got some decisions wrong on Lord of the Rings – they should’ve nominated it for much more acting awards, particularly Sam, Frodo and Pippin. But Andy Serkis should have won for his performance as Gollum, no doubt.

    • Nick

      I loved inglorious basterds, but best picture? Pulp fiction was best picture material for sure, but most QT films don’t rise above brilliant and fun.

      The oscars are a joke, simple as that. Past the 70s, the awards were nothing more than a popularity contest. Shakespeare in Love? Please. The oscars constantly award movies that are often mediocre, but have some sort of message that looks good and powerful, sometimes regardless of their quality.

      Gone are actors like Bogart or Grant, who win awards for amazing roles and continue to do amazing things, although if we are being honest, even they didn’t win the awards they deserved, or won awards in roles that weren’t as great as other roles they’ve not even been nominated in. Hell, bogart wasn’t even nominated for Falcon!

      The fact of the matter is simple, the Awards are a joke and serve as nothing more than glad handing by movie execs.

  • Marin Simeonoff Simeonoff

    I disagree with almost everything except for the Pulp Fiction and Godfather ones.

  • Lucas Accardo

    The Dark Knight isn’t a great movie. I don’t like it but i get that many people do. It’s just no Oscar material in any way.

  • MovieJay

    Yeah, I thought “Cloud Atlas” was at least going to be good for Cinematography, Sound, and a couple other technical awards.

    For me, one of the bigger mistakes was “Gladiator” winning Best Picture and Crowe for Actor that year. He was clearly better in “The Insider” the year before and “A Beautiful Mind” the following year. “Traffic” was the Best Picture that year, and I was miffed that “Wonder Boys” and Michael Douglas were totally neglected.

    I think “Chinatown” was the best of 1974. It’s 40 years old this year and it holds up better than almost any other movie made that year, including “Godfather II”, which is a terrific movie, but it’s no “Chinatown”.

    “Hoop Dreams”, “Crumb”, and “Grizzly Man” among other docs were huge omissions from Oscar consideration.

    I have complaints with recent animation winners. We all know “Wreck-It Ralph” was better than “Brave” a couple years ago.

  • Oscar Luján

    For the “Million Dollar Bay”: At the time of the film projection and Oscar winning, Clint Eastwood was part of the California State Park and Recreation Commission, appointed in there by Governor Fay Davis, and in 2004 by Arnold Scharzenegger… not accusing of anytihng, but, after that Night at the Oscars, I’ll always have my thoughts that this part of him in California Government has to do with Eastwood winning all big that night….

  • 1234567890

    The author has a crush on gangster movies. Thats why, in his opinion, each of them has to win all the oscars.

    This was the first article I read here, and it will be the last. Critics need to stay neutral.

    • Jeff Beck

      Wow, that’s an incredible sweeping generalization from there being three gangster films on the list. Would it surprise you to discover that I was rooting for The Queen over The Departed?

      Critics need to stay neutral? You obviously need to look up what critics do.

      • 1234567890

        You are not ment to defend your points. You should accept every form of feedback and try to learn from it. Thats the professional thing to do. Getting all defencive in the comments is a failure.

        That said, you didnt deny you prefer the gangster genre. So I take it its true. Thats most likely why you are so mad in love with Tarantino that you actualy think Basterds was a good film. If it wasnt for Tarantinos fame that movie would be on everyone ‘worst whatever’ lists. For his fame alone he got the cash to make it technicaly good and hire some quality actors. But that cant save it. The characters are bad, the setting is terrible and the story is braindead.

        • Jeff Beck

          Not meant to defend my points? Why would I not? We have comments so that they can be discussed.

          I might be able to learn something from your “feedback” if you would make the least bit of sense, but all you’ve done is make an erroneous assumption, make some asinine statements, and spout your hatred of a film. That’s fine that you don’t like Basterds, but you just have to accept that most really enjoyed it and would completely disagree with your “critique.” However it’s hard to take you seriously in the first place because your reasoning is entirely silly (if it wasn’t for Tarantino’s fame, it would be on worst-of lists?).

      • westseadoc

        I agree. The Departed was a cover of the Hong Kong film, “Internal Affairs,” and the role of Mark Wahlberg was placed into the film simply to apply a Western ending to the film where Wahlberg avenges the death of “the good guy.” In the Asian film, the crime mole gets away with it but it is left that he recognizes that he has caused suffering and deaths of others, and in the more classic Asian sense of honor, must now honor the consequences of his actions and it appears that he will now become “good” to honor foes fallen due to his actions, a debt of honor as it were. Western audiences do not fare well without happy endings, however unrealistic. In Asian films, a hero is not a hero if the likelihood of consequence is eliminated. The hero may or may have not lost all but he/she does lose all to avenge the wrongs. By taking on the methods of his foes, he too, has engaged Karma such that he will lose in his victory. This is the essence of heroism, avenging a wrong when it will cost you everything. Notice that Bruce Lee usually was jailed or killed at the end of his movies, until the westernized “Enter the Dragon.”

  • Are You Kidding?

    “Nobody talks about “Cabaret” anymore.”
    To celebrate “Cabaret”s Blu-Ray restoration two years ago, there was a free screening of the picture at NYC’s Ziegfeld (I attended).
    SRO. Hundreds–HUNDREDS–were turned away.
    The article has zero credibility with statements like the above.

    • Jeff Beck

      Of course it was talked about for its anniversary and a special screening, but then it went right back to where it was.

  • andrikos_of_steel

    I really like this list.

    Of course the snubbing towards Kubrick is indeed the greatest slip in the Academy’s history. Apart from that, I agree wholeheartedly with what you said about The Dark Knight, Cloud Atlas, The Godfather and Goodfellas.

    I don’t think though that we should be surprised that the Oscar for Best Picture went to Dances With Wolves. It was America’s chance to say “sorry” to the Native Americans and they didn’t want to miss it. Of course the rest of the world facepalmed, but I doubt the Academy cared. It’s funny how after Dances With Wolves and The Last Of The Mohicans we haven’t had a major film centering on the Native Americans of that time, no matter how many stories could possibly be told. It’s as if Hollywood feels that it paid its debt.

    And although I really love Rocky and feel it deserved the first place in 1976, I give cudos to you for choosing The Network over The Taxi Driver, which seems to be the hip choice today (“it has DeNiro, so it had to beat Stallone…”).

  • Mark Brown

    Glenn Close lost the Best Actress Oscar two years in a row for her POWERHOUSE performances in “Fatal Attraction” (1987) and “Dangerous Liaisons” (1988). Many people rave about how she was particularly deserving of the second one, but I can see why she may have lost that year. Though she was MARVELOUS in “Dangerous Liaisons”, her other co-stars took up most of the screen time in that film. Jodie Foster, who won the Oscar the same year for “The Accused”, was the main person onscreen in her film and she was VERY convincing. I do think Glenn was GENUINELY robbed the year before, for “Fatal Attraction”. That was HER movie and HER Oscar. It was Glenn Close onscreen 99% of the time, and in that time, she was both frightening and heartbreaking. She made the audience feel sympathy for her character, who could EASILY have been portrayed as a simple psychopathic stalker and “bunny boiler”. But in Glenn’s hands, we can see that Alex is a damaged woman, damaged by a hard past, and that is why she goes “bonkers” when people reject her. I don’t understand why the Oscar went to Cher for her entertaining- though certainly NOT Oscar-worthy performance- in “Moonstruck”. What’s even more puzzling is that “Fatal Attraction” was a major box office hit! It was the second highest-grossing film of the year, behind “Three Men and a Baby”. Everybody and their mother saw it.

  • Trier

    I’m pretty okay with Cloud Atlas not being nominated. I did not feel it was AMAZING, as so many seemed to feel it was. I honestly cannot even believe Forest Gump beat Pulp Fiction, that blows my mind. Also Fight Club, that should have received many nominations.

  • Todd Carpenter

    I don’t know how old you are, but your choices seem to suggest that Oscar history only began around 1970. You title should have been biggest Oscar mistakes in the last 40 years, because I don’t think Bill Murray losing to a better actor or The Dark Knight not getting more nominations to make fanboys squeal can compare to Citizen Kane’s losing Best Picture to How Green Was My Valley in 1941, or Loretta Young winning Best Actress for The Farmer’s Daughter over Rosalind Russel in Mourning Becomes Electra in 1947, or The Greatest Show on Earth beating out High Noon and The Quiet Man in 1952, or Judy Hollilday beating Gloria Swanson for Sunset Blvd. and Bette Davis for All About Eve in 1950, or Grace Kelly in The Country Girl beating Judy Garland in A Star is Born in 1954 etc, etc, etc.

    • Saul Ross

      Penn’s a better actor than Murray? That’s debatable. Penn’s good with dramatic roles, but comedy presents a bigger challenge and there aren’t too many that are better than Murray. He was robbed for his role in Lost In Translation. I’m surprised there was no mention of Penn beating out Rourke for The Wrestler. Penn was good in Milk, but Rourke was unforgettable. Such a powerful performance!

      • Saul Ross

        I will agree with you on Citizen Kane losing out to How Green Was My Valley. I’d also add Ellen Burstyn losing to Julia Roberts, Anthony Perkins not receiving a nom for Psycho, Hopper not getting a nom for Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive and Memento not receiving much attention. There are so many.

      • MP

        Comedic roles has nothing to do with acting ability and everything to do with charisma!! This is why most ‘comedic actors’ are virtually playing themselves in different scenerios

        • Saul Ross

          That’s not true at all. Whether it’s comedy or drama, acting is acting. It’s also known that comedy provides a much bigger challenge than drama. If you look it up you’ll see. I’ve noticed myself that dramatic actors who dabble in comedy often fail to impress me. Comedic actors who dabble in dramatic roles have impressed me quite often.

  • Ben Caesar

    I see that you are a big fan of Tarantino

    • deckbose

      Way too big.

  • Todd Carpenter

    I don’t know how old you are, but your choices seem to suggest that Oscar history only began around 1970. Your title should have been biggest Oscar mistakes in the last 40 years, because I don’t think Bill Murray losing to a better actor or The Dark Knight not getting more nominations to make fanboys squeal can compare to Citizen Kane’s losing Best Picture to How Green Was My Valley in 1941, or Loretta Young winning Best Actress for The Farmer’s Daughter over Rosalind Russel in Mourning Becomes Electra in 1947, or The Greatest Show on Earth beating out High Noon and The Quiet Man in 1952, or Judy Holliday beating Gloria Swanson for Sunset Blvd. and Bette Davis for All About Eve in 1950, or Grace Kelly in The Country Girl beating Judy Garland in A Star is Born in 1954 etc, etc, etc.

    That’s what I think.

    • BoCoMoJ

      Uh, no movie made before 1970 deserves an Oscar, because no one could act back then.

      Penn a “better actor?” LMAO. Better than whom? Better than a wooden plank, maybe. Maybe.

    • yourmom

      I agree. I stopped reading the reasons why when it was suggested pulp fiction was more deserving than forrest gump. The author is clearly a young kid that can’t handle movies with structured dialogue or a rational thinking plot

      • Jeff Beck

        Right, because Lost in Translation didn’t have structured dialogue or a rational thinking plot, nor did Cloud Atlas, or Network, or The Godfather, or any of Kubrick’s films. Yes, this makes perfect sense.

        • yourmom

          thank you for agreeing with me

  • whataworld99

    For me the biggest ripoffs were losses by Judy Garland for A Star is Born and Bette Davis for All About Eve.

  • Geroge

    This article is ridiculous. Click bait bullshit. Every post was stupid or a big “who gives a shit” except for Copolla for Godfather. Million Dollar Baby was a great film. You’re just an emotionless dog if you can’t appreciate that movie.

  • Austen

    I don’t agree to some of the things mentioned here, but i came here just for the one – The Dark Knight conspiracy, which of course i found. As for 2013, the biggest poop that Oscars took was not nominating Man of Steel for Original Score, CG and Sound Design, instead nominating films that is simply hysterical in comparison, also considering the standard of CG of previous year winner. Gravity is going to win no doubt, but Man of Steel is second best last year.

    • Douglas Carlisle King

      Man of Steel for Original Score?

      Sorry but when a movie featuring Superman has no memorable theme, or song for that matter, there’s no way to argue that it should have won. Maybe garnered a nomination. I remembering walking away from that film wondering why Zimmer didn’t create any kind of theme for that film. He said he was intimidated about taking over the score since it would be measured against the iconic Superman theme composed by John Williams, so apparently his solution was to not develop a theme at all. As one of the best composers in the business today, he really dropped the ball with Man of Steel, and when you don’t have a memorable theme or song, your not gonna win anything, and are going to have a helluva time getting nominated.

      As for CG, it probably should have been nominated, but no way it deserves to win, and not just because it was up against Gravity.

  • Diane Champion Brocker

    crash over brokeback?? no way

  • Kuro

    I don’t think that “Inglourios basterds” should have won that Oscar. I’ve never seen the hurt locker, but I think I.B. is a highly flawed movie.. Tarantino got carried away making a movie both about the Holocaust and his love of cinema. Waltz earnt his oscar, but I think, it even formally is not one of the best movies of Tarantino. There were forgettable scenes and performances, like that of Diane Kruger, for example.

  • myname

    well…I don’t watch the Oscars for more than one reason sorry to bore you with a few..but of course my number one reason is their lack of love and appreciation for black actors and actresses..etc..I mean when Halle Berry won that Oscar I couldn’t believe it..That movie was okay but come on really? They kept calling her the first Black woman to win an academy award for best actress. Problem: she isn’t black for one, she is half black and half white and that irritates me to no end. Problem: 2001 and this is a so-called “black” woman’s FIRST oscar? WOW! That’s insulting and very sad.
    Another reason I don’t watch is because it is freakin boring. It just is I am sorry..ugghhh.
    Lastly I don’t watch it because over the years as this list shows…some of the movies they choose are stupid and not really what I would think are academy award worthy movies. I check the winners and losers but I am usually disappointed.(except with slum dog).
    This article is on point for the most part…in my opinion although I fail to see what people liked about Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I hated that movie. Although I loved the concept of being able to erase someone from memory, overall I thought the movie was DAH! (dum as hell).
    Pulp Fiction is another one..I have mixed feelings about it. I don’t hate it though it was okay, but I fail to see what was sooooo great about it that people go on and on about. I do not mind being schooled a little because may be I am missing the point some where with these movies…
    A Clockwork Orange- I started watching it and didn’t finish it. I just couldn’t get in to it but I am going to watch it again so the jury is still out on that one.

    I have an open mind and I love all kinds of movies…Goodfellas is definitely one of my all time favorite movies no way it should have been snubbed.
    Cloud Atlas is on my to watch list…loved Inglorious…and most of the others.

    • Douglas Carlisle King

      Sorry if she was robbing a white guy in the alley there is no way he would then yell: “help this half-black, half-white lady is robbing me”.

      She experienced the same prejudices that any other black woman would growing up, possibly more so because she was likely judged by others blacks for being mixed race (i.e. what you just did).

      Also the lack of winners until now is a product of casting. Granted there were decades where the Academy would have also pushed back even if a Black woman was in a role worthy of recognition. Black women had never been regularly cast in leading roles until about the last 20 years, add in the fact that you not only have to be cast in a leading role but it has to be a role worthy of winning an Academy Award.

      As for why Pulp Fiction is such a great movie: Research Auteur Theory (Auteur is French for Author – in layman’s terms it holds that a director is able to make a film their own, even if they didn’t write the script, and had to deal with interference from outside factors (studios, actors etc.)). One of Tarantino’s signatures is his love for film and how he incorporates it into his films. The Shot Compositions, the scene setting, and the natural dialog, are phenomenal. And despite being just under 20 years old it has already influenced other director’s styles and has been referenced in pop culture for all 20 years of its existence.

      I will say that I don’t disagree with the Academy giving the award to Forrest Gump, they had no idea of knowing how influential Pulp Fiction would become when they voted, and as for pop culture relevance, Forrest Gump is arguably just as relevant (so there goes that argument). I think the better film is Pulp Fiction, but can definitely see why they would side with the feel-good film.

      • myname

        Forrest was great..Pulp was okay.. My opinion.. I don’t care what a person would say if being robbed she is not black.. Period. May b they need their own race, but you can’t be half white and be all black at the same time. It doesn’t work. The lack of black women cast in leading roles is insulting. The fact that it took that long for Denzel to get one is insulting. Angela Bassett is a great actress I thought she was great in What’s Love got to do with it.. What about The Color Purple? Whoopi killed that!
        I don’t doubt that Halle and people of mixed races face racism BUT how can one entire side of who they are be ignored, or denied? Her mom is white! So why isn’t she a white woman? Then to call her African American I mean really? I have no issues wit Halle’s race I think she is beautiful. Whenever Hollywood/ media can take something from us they do.. by doing crap like that they take it under the guise of giving it and people accept it! If Mariah Carey won an Academy award for best actress ( no it would not happen) would they consider her the second Black woman to win one, because her mother is white and her father is black…Does she look like a black woman? All race aside I don’t think Halle Berry is all that great of an actress.. She is okay. Oscar winning? No. I feel like they wanted to give one to a “black” woman and Halle was their safe bet. People mixing the races is a personal choice but as far as I am concerned to categorize mixed people as black when they are only half black is lying about who they are.
        Back to pulp. I love QT.. I guess I get what your saying about Pulp. To compare Forrest and Pulp doesn’t mesh the movies are so different. There were some interesting scenes in pulp.. But I enjoyed Resevoir Dogs and From Dusk till Dawn way more.

  • jckfmsincty

    The amateurish “The Greatest Show on Earth” won the Best Picture Oscar in 1952. Hollywood’s greatest musical, “Singin” in the Rain”, wasn’t even among the five nominees that year!!!

  • James Dalessandro

    This is a pretty good list, kudos. But if you’re going to pick out a film maker who never won Best Director, it’s not Kubrick. The slight starts and ends with ALFRED HITCHCOCK, greatest English language film maker of all time, who never won the award.

  • Jamie Parsons

    All of this is just your personal opinion, like how most actor’s performances are. A lot of people think Penn deserved it for Mystic River.

  • Raphael

    I can see your point in some of them, but I disagree that dancing with the wolves did not deserve best picture. Godfellas is more referenced because it is a gangster movie and the dialogue is made for it, but the screen shoot on dancing with the wolves are superior and it is something different. It does amuse me to watch all the hate people post in dancing with the wolves forum, so if any of you are here do not stop posting:)

  • Worst list ever

    Well I agree about Bill Murray, and definitely the Kubrick thing – but a list that actually claims that Pulp Fiction and Inglorious Bastards were robbed for Oscars is just straight up sad..

    Not that they aren’t okay movies for what they are, but to even consider them Oscar material is just wrong. Like all other of Tarantino’s movies, they’re just about “cool” conversations that has nothing to do with the almost non-existing plot, and besides that, they’re just glorifications of over the top violence, usually with no actual plot-driven need for the graphic violence, and seems mostly like a way for Tarantino to sell tickets.

    And The Dark Knight was robbed for Oscars – really?
    It’s just a super hero movie, definitely a good one, though many people agree that it’s not even the best super hero movie out there. And definitely not worth something like best director, script or movie – though Ledgers performance was breathtaking, and a deserved win – dead or not..

    But never the less, this is probably one of the worst list I’ve ever read on the internet…

  • HE1NZ

    I’m sure academy did right with ignoring TDK.

  • statingmyopinion

    I stopped watching the Oscars, when Julia Roberts (Erin Brockovich) won over Ellen Burstyn (Requiem for a Dream) . I knew and understood right then and there,, it wasn’t about who should win, it was about who could court the academy voters.