Well it’s that time of year again. The Academy Awards are upon us which means the glitz and glamor of Hollywood will be on display. But it also means that movies will take center stage for one fantastic evening. In honor of the illustrious Oscars I thought I would take a slightly more cynical look at them in this week’s Phenomenal 5. I’m giving you five of the biggest blunders in the history of the awards. Of course we know the Oscars are perfect. This year alone we’ve seen glaring omissions including “Inside Llewyn Davis” and Mads Mikkelsen. So considering that, I wouldn’t call this the definitive list. Still I have no problems identifying these as phenomenally awful Oscar blunders.
#5 – No Best Picture nomination for “The Dark Knight”
Look, I know that in the grand scheme of things this is a fairly minor blunder. But my adoration for Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” is such that I had to slip it on this list. Call it gratuitous self-indulgence. For my money “The Dark Knight” is the greatest superhero film ever made. But it’s more than that. The movie really showed what the often dismissed genre was capable of. It had an incredible story, fantastic performances, brilliant action and effects. In reality I knew it didn’t stand a chance considering the typical Oscar bait that received nominations that year. But it’s still a shame because I would put “The Dark Knight” up there with any of them.
#4 – The 1953 Best Picture Debacle
The 25th Academy Awards were notable for being the first ceremony broadcasted on television. They were also notable for completely flubbing up the Best Picture category. It all starts with the nominations. Shockingly the great Gene Kelly classic “Singin’ in the Rain” didn’t even receive a Best Picture nomination. In fact it received only two nominations that year and lost them both. But the Academy didn’t stop there. The Best Picture winner was “The Greatest Show on Earth” which beat the highly favored (and considerably better) “High Noon”. “The Greatest Show on Earth” is widely considered the weakest Best Picture winner in Oscar history. And to think it came at the expense of two bona fide classics.
#3 – “How Green Was My Valley” beats “Citizen Kane”
The best films of 1941 duked it out and a stunning surprise winner was crowned. John Ford’s “How Green Was My Valley” upset the Orson Welles classic “Citizen Kane” to win the Best Picture Oscar. This is definitely not considered a criminal offense because “How Green” is a really good film. But it’s hard to believe that a drama about a Welsh mining town would beat what is widely considered as the greatest movie of all time. “Citizen Kane” was groundbreaking both in form and technique. It’s also a better film that deserved the Oscar. What’s rarely mentioned is that “How Green” also beat the brilliant and much better “Maltese Falcon”. A classic double fail by the Academy.
#2 – Tommy Lee Jones Wins Over Ralph Fiennes.
Let me start by saying I really like Tommy Lee Jones and his performance in “The Fugitive” was very good. But for me it paled in comparison to Ralph Fiennes’ work in “Schindler’s List”. In portraying the Nazi Lieutenant Amon Goeth, Fiennes gives us one of the most brutal and detestable screen villains in movie history. But his performance is all the more potent because it is rooted in reality and he completely emerges himself in the role. He made me uncomfortable and unsettled and it is a defining performance. Fiennes was believed to be the sure winner. Instead he was beaten by a much lighter performance that is good but certainly not deserving.
#1 – No Oscars for Cary Grant
Let me clarify that – no ACTING Oscars for Cary Grant. Sure the Academy eventually gave him one of those “whoops, we messed up” lifetime achievement Oscars, but when it counted they never gave this deserving actor a statue. All you have to do is look at the magnificent filmography of this phenomenal actor. He excelled in screwball comedies, romantic dramas, daring thrillers. He shined under some of cinema’s best directors including Hawks, Hitchcock, and Donen. I could go on and on listing the different movies that exhibited his brilliance as an actor. The fact that none of those performances earned him an Oscar is simply astonishing.
Those are just some of Oscar’s biggest flubs. Agree or disagree? I’d love to hear your thoughts and your picks for this list.