One of the best decisions that the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences ever made was to travel back to the good old days and re-expand the Best Picture category’s nominations to 10. There are just too many good movies made in any given year, and to limit the number that could be recognized as one of the best, if not THE best, is just a shame and borderline insult to so many good movies. It still doesn’t help that the number is as small as 10, because 100 would probably be more accurate and especially allow a movie like White House Down to get proper recognition at the 86th Academy Awards on Sunday.
But even if 100 movies could be nominated for Best Picture, and 100 actors and actresses nominated for their performances as well, we’d still have people complaining that certain movies and people were being snubbed, because that’s how movie criticism works. We can’t simply let the Academy voters do their jobs, when it’s far easier and certainly more controversial to disagree and say that they’re awful at choosing the best films. They’re just people, after all, and they make the decisions because they know what they’re doing.
That said, the Academy is full of morons. There have been more egregious Oscar snubs in the decades leading up to Sunday’s big show than there have correct picks, and I picked the 10 worst Oscar snubs that I could think of right off the top of my head. I have to say, I’m pretty confident that these are the worst of all-time. But feel free to disagree or whatever.
The 71st Academy Awards, Best Actress (1998)
Best Actress Winner: Gwyneth Paltrow, Shakespeare in Love
Nominees: Cate Blanchett, Fernanda Montenegro, Meryl Streep, Emily Watson
The 71st Academy Awards ceremony is widely regarded as one of the worst in history, as many people believe that Shakespeare in Love did not deserve Best Picture and especially Best Actress. In my humble opinion, Paltrow wasn’t even the third-best actress in a movie in 1998, because she couldn’t hold a candle to…
Should Have Won: (Tie) Neve Campbell and Denise Richards, Wild Things
Let’s face it, everything leading up to this point and beyond was a workshop in classic theatre.
The 70th Academy Awards, Best Actor (1997)
Best Actor Winner: Jack Nicholson, As Good as it Gets
Nominees: Matt Damon, Robert Duvall, Peter Fonda, Dustin Hoffman
Aside from some punk kid named Matt Damon, the nominees for Best Actor in 1997 were an assortment of the usual suspects, and there’s no actual joy in just honoring the same old, same old. One of the problems with the Academy is that the voters don’t have any balls. They could have and should have proven me wrong with the correct Best Actor pick for an entertainment industry veteran…
Should Have Won: Buddy, Air Bud
The 62rd Academy Awards, Best Original Screenplay (1989)
Best Original Screenplay Winner: Dead Poets Society (Tom Schulman)
Nominees: Crimes and Misdemeanors (Woody Allen), Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee), Sex, Lies and Videotape (Steven Soderbergh), Crimes and Misdemeanors (Martin Landau)
None of these films, the winner included, actually told a great story. They were anchored by strong acting performances and they especially benefited from a weak year in film. But one movie not only had amazing acting and direction, but it also told a phenomenal story of crime, corruption, greed, abuse of power and, most importantly, brotherhood.
Should Have Won: Tango and Cash (Randy Feldman)
No one else in Hollywood could have written such and incredible closing scene as this:
The 68th Academy Awards, Best Actress (1995)
Best Actress Winner: Susan Sarandon, Dead Man Walking
Nominees: Elizabeth Shue, Sharon Stone, Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson
Another crop of serious roles that lacked any actual energy or emotion from the women who delivered the performances. Sure, the Academy took a chance by elevating Sharon Stone to a new tier in her career, as she had previously been stranded on Boobies Island, but these nominees showed the Academy’s incredible age bias. Meanwhile, a young show business veteran showed that she was ready to shed her once-innocent image and tackle a truly career-altering role.
Should Have Won: Elizabeth Berkley, Showgirls
Not to mention, of course, the pool scene that I can’t include here but can link to.
The 65th Academy Awards, Best Director (1992)
Best Director Winner: Clint Eastwood, Unforgiven
Nominees: Robert Altman, Martin Brest, James Ivory, Neil Jordan
Some people raised eyebrows over the idea of naming a Western the best movie of 1992, but it’s hard to argue the fact that Unforgiven is a fantastic movie. But was that all due to the direction of Clint Eastwood? I would argue that he was gifted with an incredible cast that helped make his job much easier. Unlike, say, a director who took two inexperienced actors and helped unleash their potential so well that they could never replicate their performances again.
Should Have Won: Randall Miller, Class Act
Not to mention that performance by Doug E. Doug. This might have been two robberies in one.
The 74th Academy Awards, Best Original Song (2001)
Best Original Song Winner: “If I Didn’t Have You” – Randy Newman, Monsters, Inc.
Nominees: “May it Be” – Lord of the Rings, “There You’ll Be” – Pearl Harbor, “Until…” – Kate & Leopold, “Vanilla Sky” – Vanilla Sky
All of these songs were tired clichés of the Academy’s blatant taste for quiet, safe music. There’s no danger or energy in most songs nominated for Best Original Song. The Academy also discriminates against songs that weren’t specifically written for a film, ignoring the fact that some songs end up becoming part of a film’s legacy after the fact. Especially one that is rewritten to include some of the most important performers of the 20th century and beyond.
Should Have Won: “Rollin’ (Urban Assault Vehicle)” – Limp Bizkit, ft. DMX, Redman and Method Man, The Fast and the Furious
The 79th Academy Awards, Best Visual Effects (2006)
Best Visual Effects Winner: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest – John Knoll, Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson and Allen Hall
Nominees: Poseidon, Superman Returns
It isn’t fair to any of the films and artists to nominate only three pictures, nor is it respectful to the many movies and artists that tried to deliver outstanding performances. Yes, Dead Man’s Chest had some great visual moments and it would have been hard for any film to come close in matching or surpassing its artistic achievements in an otherwise lousy year. But I think it was more than obvious then and now that one movie did just that.
Should Have Won: Little Man, Yvonne Connor
The 64th Academy Awards, Best Original Song (1991)
Best Original Song Winner: “Beauty and the Beast” – Alan Menken, Beauty and the Beast
Nominees: “Be Our Guest” – Beauty and the Beast, “Belle” – Beauty and the Beast, “When You’re Alone” – Hook, “(Everything I Do) I Do it For You” – Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Look at the laziness here. Okay, we get it – Beauty and the Beast was a great animated film that featured some beautiful songs. BOOOOOOORING! Although, I will give Bryan Adams respect for one of the great ballads of the 90s. That song is still the jam. However, not a single song mattered more at any point during 1991 than one that came directly from a film, and is still talked about as a milestone in pop culture, film and music today.
Should Have Won: “Ninja Rap” – Vanilla Ice, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze
And that dance break! My goodness, how is there not an Oscar just for that? What an incredible display of music in cinema this was.
The 62nd Academy Awards, Best Picture (1989)
Best Picture Winner: Driving Miss Daisy
Nominees: Born on the Fourth of July, Dead Poets Society, Field of Dreams, My Left Foot
I’ve already shared some harsh words for the 62nd Academy Awards for the failure to recognize the amazing story as told by Tango & Cash, but this is where my blood boils to a level comparable only to the fires of hell. Perhaps I’m being hypocritical by even mentioning Tango & Cash in the first place, because the movie that I believe should have won Best Picture for 1989 also had an incredible story. But this specific film relied more on visual storytelling than it did on the words of its protagonist – except in one of the all-time greatest speech scenes every written – who is perhaps the second greatest hero ever created for the big screen. The Academy can drive Miss Daisy off into the sunset, because we’ll always know the identity of the real Best Picture that year…
Should Have Won: Road House
Finally, an entire Academy Awards ceremony marred by countless mistakes and snubs. It’s almost remarkable how horrible this specific Oscars show turned out.
The Entire 59th Academy Awards (1986)
Best Picture: Platoon
Should Have Won: Big Trouble in Little China
Best Actor: Paul Newman, The Color of Money
Should Have Won: Kurt Russell, Big Trouble in Little China
Best Supporting Actor: Michael Caine, Hannah and Her Sisters
Should Have Won: James Hong, Big Trouble in Little China
Best Director: Oliver Stone, Platoon
Should Have Won: John Carpenter, Big Trouble in Little China
Best Original Song: “Take My Breath Away” – Berlin, Top Gun
Should Have Won: “Big Trouble in Little China” – John Carpenter’s Coup de Villes, Big Trouble in Little China
In conclusion, Big Trouble in Little China is the greatest film ever made.