Worst Academy Award Mistakes Of The Past 25 Years
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Worst Academy Award Mistakes Of The Past 25 Years

How did the Academy make these glaring mistakes?

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Worst Academy Award Mistakes Of The Past 25 Years
Wikimedia Commons

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will give out their annual Academy Awards (Oscars) on Sunday. They have made some very good decisions in its long and storied history. They also have made some very bad ones. For sake of your interest, as people like to hear about mistakes in this field, here are some of the worst of the worst (in one person's opinion) in the past 25 years. Poring over the list of recent Oscar results shocked me on numerous occasions.

Qualifications for consideration:
For a mistake to be considered, it must have occurred in 1992 or later.
For a mistake to be considered, it must have been at the expense of another nominee for the award.
For a mistake to be considered, it must have been a mistake in one of the six major categories (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, or Supporting Actress).

Without further ado:


10. Best Actor of 1998

Won: Roberto Benigni for his role in "Life is Beautiful"
Deserved to win: Edward Norton for his role in "American History X"

Full disclaimer: this is not American bias. There are some foreign films that had great performances. "Life is Beautiful" isn't one of them. It may be a bias in favor of "American History X," as it was the better film, but I think: one, playing a Nazi is harder than playing someone persecuted by Nazis; two, Norton simply did a better job. As I said, I may be biased too much in favor of the film, so it's not as high as some other upsets.

9. Best Supporting Actor of 1996

Won: Cuba Gooding Jr. for his role in "Jerry Maguire"
Deserved to win: William H. Macy for his role in "Fargo"

While I like "Jerry Maguire" quite a bit, I see it really as more of a guilty pleasure than a film that should win Oscars. Now, this wasn't all that much of a mistake (Best Supporting Actor/Actress isn't talked about very much, see also below), but Macy was, again, the better executor of a more difficult role. And it deserves mention, but not a very high place on the list.

8. Best Supporting Actress of 1992

Won: Marisa Tomei for her role in "My Cousin Vinny"
Deserved to win: Judy Davis for her role in "Husbands and Wives"


See above. This is almost an identical case, and No. 9 should really be "8b." But I don't do that. Still, better movie, harder role, better execution, low level of importance.

7. Best Actress of 1998

Won: Gwyneth Paltrow for her role in "Shakespeare in Love"
Deserved to win: Cate Blanchett for her role in "Elizabeth"

"Shakespeare in Love" is one of the most overrated films of all time. "Elizabeth" is one of the most underrated 90's films, chiefly due to Blanchett playing the titular character. So why did Paltrow win? The Academy, I guess, cared more about the life of the commoner (Shakespeare's lover) than the queen (Elizabeth) in that time period, at least in depiction.

6. Best Actor of 2002

Won: Adrian Brody for his role in "The Pianist"
Deserved to win: Daniel Day-Lewis for his role in "Gangs of New York"

Yes, I'm saying that the only person who has ever won Best Actor three times deserved it four times. That is out of the way now, so I can tell you that Day-Lewis played a much more compelling character. That's the job of an actor, right? He totally deserved it.

5. Best Director of 2001

Won: Ron Howard for "A Beautiful Mind"
Deserved to win: David Lynch for "Mulholland Drive"


To be fair, I was moved by "A Beautiful Mind," owing to the fact that I have acute anxiety and profound intelligence (my experience is that those two things occur together more often than not). But no one will be able to convince me that Lynch did not do a better job directing "Mulholland Drive." I mean, come on. While both films are highly acclaimed, "Mulholland Drive" has more accolades outside the Oscars. Lynch is a big reason why.

4. Best Picture of 1995

Won: "Braveheart"
Deserved to win: "Apollo 13"


"Apollo 13" is one of my favorite films of all time. Braveheart was boring by comparison. I have been thrilled by "Apollo 13" ever since I was about six years old. But I know exactly why the Academy made their fourth-biggest mistake since 1992, and it is directly tied to their third-biggest.

3. Best Picture of 1994

Won: "Forrest Gump"
Deserved to win: "Pulp Fiction"


Many would say "The Shawshank Redemption" deserved to win, which it certainly did more than "Forrest Gump." But here's what it boils down to: The Academy chose the wrong Tom Hanks film. If they had waited a year to give the award to "Apollo 13" and given "Pulp Fiction" the award for 1994, this would only be a top eight. "Pulp Fiction" is one of the greatest and most influential films of the 1990's. "Forrest Gump"? Just a quaint curiosity by comparison.

2. Best Picture of 1998

Won: "Shakespeare in Love"
Deserved to win: "Saving Private Ryan"


How? I mean, come on. Were the voters put off by the gore of the first half hour? I fast-forwarded through most of it as well, but "Shakespeare in Love"? "Saving Private Ryan" is obviously the better film. Obviously. It's more captivating and not overrated one bit.

1. Best Picture of 2005

Won: "Crash"
Should have won: "Brokeback Mountain"


When I watched "Crash," ten years after this debacle, my biggest question was this: how was it even nominated? Winning went farther still, but if you make a film that bad, you shouldn't expect the Academy to even look at you. But the Academy gave it to "Crash" instead of "Brokeback Mountain" for one reason only: they didn't want to be accused of progressive bias in favor of "Brokeback Mountain" being a story about two gay men. But when the choice is that obvious, you can throw those potential allegations out the window.

Best of luck to all the people involved in filmmaking on Oscar night, and best of luck to the Academy for an eleventh straight year without a decision this bad!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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