Oscar Mistakes Pt. 1
Today’s announcement of Seth McFarlane, creator of Family Guy and American Dad, as host of the 2013 Academy Awards leads me to another in my seemingly endless top ten movie lists. This time, with the host announcement and the first buzz about what films are jockeying for the top prize in the Spring, its Academy’s most horrific mistakes. These are in no particular order. They’re all bad, and the people who voted for them should be rounded up and made to watch every Adam Sandler film ever made on a loop for an entire month. Maybe then they’ll learn.
10) 1980 – Ordinary People – While I said these were in no particular order, this might be Oscar’s biggest blunder. People were falling all over themselves at the time extolling the virtues of this dreary Robert Redford flick about a family falling apart. 30 years later the film that should have won, Raging Bull, has rightfully taken its place as one the greatest films of all time. Ordinary People? Ordinary film more like.
9) 1998 - Shakespeare In Love – The Academy loves period pieces, especially if there’s a gooey love story at the centre of it. While not your average petticoats and powdered wigs masterwork that is usually lavished with praise by Oscar (see My Fair Lady and A Man For All Seasons for proof), it still had that ye olde English look and feel to it. Voters ate it up like a fat kid eats up a gallon of chocolate ice cream, even though the real winner, Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece on the horror and senselessness of war, Saving Private Ryan, was staring them right in the face. It just goes to show that sometimes it’s better to pass up a fluffy dessert and have another piece of filet mignon.
8) 1976 – Rocky – This is a tough one. Rocky is a very good film. A great, rags to riches (almost) story about a loser who gets his shot at glory, and succeeds, in a manner of speaking. Plus, Stallone’s own story mirrors the film. A down and out actor takes his best shot, writes himself a great story, and goes on to fame and fortune. Sadly, two much more deserving films got pushed aside at the time. Martin Scorsese’s brooding drama Taxi Driver was unjustly robbed of Oscar glory. However, there is another film that has proven to be even more deserving of the top picture honour than Taxi Driver. If you haven’t seen it lately, or ever, watch Network. It’s message of the evils of corporate interference in the presentation of the news, and the rise of reality TV and entertainment programs disguising themselves as newscasts is all too real. Don’t believe me? Turn on your TV and tell me what you see. Why aren’t we all mad as hell and not taking it anymore?
7) Kramer vs. Kramer – When the Academy awarded the best picture in 1980 to Ordinary People instead of Raging Bull, it was just following a long standing tradition. One of ignoring compelling films that would go on to much acclaim in later years, and giving the award to three hanky tearjerkers that cleaned up at the box office. Like 1979, for instance. Instead of honouring Francis Ford Coppola for his daring vision of the insanity of the Vietnam War, Apocalypse Now, the Oscar went to Kramer vs. Kramer. Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep are a newly divorced, bickering couple trying to decide who gets to raise their too cute by half son. Now, I know that America was still pretty sensitive about Vietnam in the late 70’s, but c’mon. Kramer vs Kramer? The other 3 films nominated that year were infinitely better than that, most notably Breaking Away, but I guess the Academy knows what it’s doing. Oh wait…no they don’t. That’s the purpose of this list, isn’t it?
Note to the casting director of Kramer vs. Kramer: If Dustin and Meryl ever had a kid, he’d have a nose the size of the Vegreville Easter egg, not the tiny little hooter that we witnessed on the face of Justin Henry, the young man who played their son in the film. Just sayin’…
6) 1958 – Gigi – The 1950’s featured some of the best movie musicals ever made. An American In Paris, Singin’ In The Rain, Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, The King & I. It also featured some of the hokiest singing and dancing films ever. Such was the case for Gigi. Maybe it won because everybody in the film spoke with an accent. “Oh listen to them, Ethel. They’re trying to speak English. It’s so cute. Let’s vote for ‘em!”. Or maybe it’s because the other 4 films nominated that year weren’t that great either. Or maybe it’s because the film that SHOULD have won the Oscar in 1958 wasn’t even nominated. Recently, Sight & Sound Magazine released its latest list of the top 100 films of all time. And for the first time in 50 years, Citizen Kane did not top the list. What was number 1? The film the Academy totally ignored in 1958. Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo.
Part 2 tomorrow.