The Guest List: MovieRob

oscars

To keep The Guest List chugging along, I am very excited to have my friend Rob from MovieRob contributing his top 10! If you don’t already follow or subscribe to his site, I highly recommend you do so! He’s got some phenomenal content over there and is a blast to converse with. So, yeah, head on over and drop him a like, comment, and follow!

If you’d like to contribute your very own top 10 to The Guest List, here’s how!

All you need to do is shoot me an e mail (thecinemamonster@gmail.com) with your name, website info (if you have one), and the topic you have chosen for your top 10. If I like what I see, I’ll give you the all clear and you can begin composing your entry. Make sure to include a descriptive, yet brief introduction and a picture or clip for every entry in your top 10. Use my own top 10s as references. Then, send it back to me and we will discuss a date of publish.

I’m going to turn things over to Rob now, enjoy!

Top 10 Movies That Stole Oscar Gold From More Deserving Best Pictures: by Rob

Every year, I get up at 3:30am (my time) to watch the Oscars live. I have been doing this for over 20 years and have only missed it once (when my cable went out that night in 2003) and also once watched it live dubbed in a foreign language that I didn’t understand (1995 which made David Letterman less annoying J )

Oscar night has always had its surprises, but usually the biggest ones are in smaller categories. A number of times though, we have been surprised when that final envelope is opened by a big star (Jack Nicholson, Harrison Ford, Michael Douglas or even the First lady of the United States).

In some years, the winner of Best Picture is usually the choice between one of 2 (or sometimes even 3) of the nominees while in other years, it’s a no-brainer who the winner will be.

I have compiled a list here of the biggest Best Picture surprises over the years where the BP Oscar was stolen from a more deserving winner due to politics or any other known or unknown reasoning.

I have tried to rank them in order of least surprising to most surprising, but any order will truly do here.

10: 1952

The Winner

The Greatest Show On Earth

Who should have been the winner

High Noon

Gary Cooper’s movie should have easily clinched BP that year, but the supposed communist undertones of the movie and the fact that everyone loves DeMille gave the golden boy to his movie about the circus instead.  During the McCarthy era, this is not so surprising, but still a travesty since the story of High Noon is clearly better than the one in Greatest Show on Earth.

9: 2005

The Winner

Crash

Who should have been the winner

Munich

Crash only won because the academy members had trouble voting for a movie about Israelis commandos killing Palestinian terrorists (even though it was made by Spielberg).  The other choice was Brokeback Mountain which had it’s own controversy due to it being about gay cowboys.

8: 2002

The Winner

Chicago

Who should have been the winner

The Pianist

Roman Polanski’s outstanding warrant for statutory rape definitely hurt his amazing movie about the survival of a Polish Jew during WWII and caused The Weinstein’s to take home gold with their movie adaptation of the musical about morally deficient men and women in the swing 1920’s.  Surprisingly, Polanski got a best director statue, but his movie’s own gold was not to be even though it was clearly the best movie of the year.

7: 2012

The Winner

Argo

Who should have been the winner

Les Miserables

The academy love to bestow Gold on their favorites and when the director’s branch voters didn’t give a nomination to loved actor Ben Affleck, the whole academy fought back and showered his movie with Gold. Affleck is the 6th actor to direct a movie that won the top prize (Robert Redford for Ordinary People in 1980, Richard Attenborough for Gandhi in 1982, Kevin Costner for Dances With Wolves in 1990, Mel Gibson for Braveheart in 1995 and Clint Eastwood twice – for Unforgiven in 1992 and Million Dollar Baby in 2004 are the others).  IMHO, Les Miserables is one of the best musical adaptations ever done and it was clearly the bets movie all-around of 2012.

6: 1948

The Winner

Hamlet

Who should have been the winner

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

Sir Lawrence Olivier’s depiction of the Danish Prince is quite a boring rendition, but for 1948 it was a breakthrough movie and performance that would open many doors for future Bard movie adaptations.  Story-wise, the movie doesn’t break any new ground, but apparently the thespians in the academy chose to honor it with gold even though the John Huston directed Western-mystery was clearly a better story and movie was left in the cold. Huston won best director and screenplay that year proving that it was probably just a way to appease the Brits into making more movies for American audiences.

5: 1963

The Winner

Tom Jones

Who should have been the winner

Anything else would do…

Tom Jones is such a terrible movie (I think it’s the worst Best Picture ever) that I cannot understand for the life of me why it would be even closely perceived as the best movie of the year.  Any other movie that came out in 1963 was probably better (and if not, we should be happy they still make movies).  Admittedly, I haven’t seen any of the other 4 nominated movie (yet), but if they are all worse than this one, I have 4 really terrible movies to look forward to watching.

4: 1995

The Winner

Braveheart

Who should have been the winner

Apollo 13

This was quite a tricky year for Academy voters since (as I mentioned earlier) they love to bestow awards to former actors turned directors and in this year they had 2 to choose from. Mel Gibson and Ron Howard.  Both movie won there fair amount of awards during the year and the duel went to the wire, but Howard’s snub by the Directing branch helped propel Gibson to Gold.  The problem here is that both movies are excellent movies, but I think the fact that Apollo 13 was based on a more recent true story and the ensemble acting out-acted Braveheart adding to the fact that Apollo 13 was a very red-white-and blue movie, it should’ve been bestowed with Best Picture honors.

3: 1968

The Winner

In the Heat of the Night

Who should have been the winner

Guess who’s Coming to Dinner

Interestingly, both of these movies featured Sidney Poitier in roles defying racism in American society.  The Academy chose to go with the movie that was a murder-mystery where the cop trying to solve the crime was faced with local racism every where he turned and instead of the dramatic one dealing with inter-racial marriage.  The latter was a more poignant movie with a better message which was also capped with an amazing lead cast of Spencer Tracy (in his final role), Kathryn Hepburn, and Poitier himself.  The Academy really screw this one up!

2: 1976

The Winner

Rocky

Who should have been the winner

Network

Anyone who has seen Network can clearly see it was robbed by the epitome of an underdog. Rocky itself tells the story of an underdog and that little movie that could, somehow beat this excellent movie that was able to foresee the correct direction of television.  Rating were always important in TV, but this movie hit upon the idea that in order to get a bigger audience all you have to do is find new ways to shock them with live events.  This was the precursor of reality TV.  Rocky itself is a tale of an everyman getting the chance of a lifetime and it is a good movie, it just isn’t in any way better than Network.  Perhaps Academy members saw themselves in this analogy for the life of struggling actor/writer Sylvester Stallone, who knows what they were thinking?  The only thing that rings true is that they definitely didn’t choose the right movie for Best Picture that year.

1: 1997

The Winner

Shakespeare in Love

Who should have been the winner

Saving Private Ryan

This is definitely the biggest miss IMHO by the Academy.  SPR is by far one of the best war movies ever made and it is a complete shame that the Academy chose SIL instead. I think that Harrison Ford was just as surprised as everyone when he opened that envelope.  Steven Spielberg has always been a great filmmaker and he always raises the bar with each new movie.  After he made Schindler’s List (1993) most people thought he couldn’t top that one, but instead chose to make another powerful WWII picture that is the perfect companion piece for Schindler.  The story and the performances are great.  Shakespeare, on the other hand is also a great movie, cleverly scripted and acted well, but it’s a lighter story and not as powerful as SPR.

There is no question that the Academy dropped the ball here big time and giving Spielberg Best Director wasn’t a big enough consolation prize.

Truly a tragedy!!

Honourable Mention:

The Winner

Slumdog Millionaire

Who should have been the winner

Dark Knight

This one had to be an Honorable Mention since TDK wasn’t even able to lose the gold since The Academy chose The Reader over it as the fifth and final nomination.  This controversy actually led to the re-expansion of the category to “up to 10 nominees” instead of the 5 used since the nid-1940’s.  I think this expansion has diluted the playing field in order to give more movies the honor of being nominated.  They should return to the previous 5 picture maximum of nominees.  Regardless, TDK was clearly the best movie of the year in all aspects and truly topped any other movie made in the genre.  The fact that 2008 itself was a weak BP year (besides Slumdog and The Reader, the other nominees were Nixon/Frost, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Milk) proves that the Academy members need to think more out of the box and allow non- standard drama genres into the fray. They couldn’t ignore The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and there will be a day when a superhero movie done better than TDK will take home that Gold Statuette.

****

I think it’s fair to say that this top 10 is one of the best the segment has ever seen! I’m sure it’ll stir up tons of debate, so feel free to leave all questions and comments below. Another big thank you to Rob for contributing! Everyone has a stellar weekend…

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About Joseph@thecinemamonster

Aspiring writer who absolutely adores film and television. thecinemamonster.com

Posted on January 10, 2014, in The Guest List and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 29 Comments.

  1. Number 1 is the biggest travesty in the history of travesties… good work, boys!

  2. That’s a great read, Rob.

    I haven’t seen some of the older years’ nominees or winners, so I can’t debate too much about too many of these. But I can say I totally agree on Chicago and Crash, both on their victory and what should have won instead.

    I also agree Argo was a surprise, at least in the weeks leading into the Oscars. (By that night, I think most critics expected Argo to win.) I will say I think the reasons for Argo’s victory a bit more complicated than your summary. And also that I don’t think Les Mis should have won. I do think Les Mis more deserving than Argo, but not more deserving than most of the other nominees. If there had been only 5 nominees, neither Les Mis nor Argo would have made my list (though I did like both of them).

    • Thanks for commenting Jjames.

      what do you think was the best in 2012?

      I think it was a pretty weak year and that along with the Affleck controversy led to Argo’s win

      • And the Zero Dark Thirty controversy. It was the consensus winner at the end of December/beginning of January when the Globes’ nominations were announced and the Oscars’ were rumored. And the political maelstrom over torture started and everyone backed way off.

        I agree it was a pretty weak year. Lots of really good movies; no great ones. If we limit our conversation to the 10 nominated for Best Picture, my favorite was Silver Linings Playbook, by far, but I wouldn’t have given it Best Picture. For me that award also implies artistic brilliance, not just great performances and story.

        To which would I have given Best Picture? I’m not certain. It’s a toss up between Django, Amour and Life of PI. I think the last two are the best artistically (with Life of PI being a notch better), but the first is a better blend of artistry and story. If I was forced to pick, I’d probably go Django, followed by Life of PI.

    • Thanks JJames

      I really enjoyed ZDT, but as great as a narrative as it is, I felt that it was really missing a strong central character. JC was good her, but she wasn’t strong enough to show a very strong character who could hold up the story. As a historical narrative, it works amazingly. (I even learnt about a few connections to OBL that I didn’t know of beforehand), but beyond that, something was missing. The torture controversy obviously didn’t help it’s chances, but I think it wasn’t the best all-around) picture from 2012.

      SLP was a great movie because of its acting, not it’s story. Russel is a very good actors director, but his stories are always lacking.

      Amour was a very disturbing, thought provoking, gentle, powerful movie that shows what true love really is. I think Emaunella Riva was amazing in it and she was better than Jennifer Lawrence and she should’ve taken the best actress oscar. That being said, it was not an easy movie to watch because of how real its story is and can “hit home” with many viewers.

      Life of Pi is a good movie, but relies too much on its effects and the ending just completely ruined it for me. Ang Lee won Best Director because Lincoln wasn’t Spielberg at his best and the aforementioned Affleck controversy.

      Django is VERY Tarantino and because of that it didn’t stand a chance in Hell at winning. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Django and all thing QT, but as great a writer as he is, he will never win BP or BD because Hollywood likes to embrace his movies for their ideas and dialogue (especially), but not his personality. Pulp Fiction has been his best movie and even that was too much for Hollywood.

      Lincoln was 100% Daniel Day Lewis and eventhough it’s isn’t Spielberg’s best, it is a great story about a great man, but not the best movie of 2012.

      Lasty, Beasts of the Southern Wild. In my opinion it was a terrible movie and didn’t deserve any of it nominatiuons even. I was so bored during my viewing that I was so tempted to turn it off over and over, but kep truckin thru hoping it would somehow miraculously get better.

      So after saying all of the above, I still stand by my original opinion that Les Mis was the best of the (almost-great, but definitely good) movies of 2012.

      • I agree with a lot of that, especially on Lincoln and Amour. (I will say I don’t think Riva deserved Best Actress, only because she was not a lead character. Her character was no more or less important to her movie than Helen Hunt was to The Sessions. If Hunt is a supporting actor, then so is Riva.)

        I agree less with some of the rest (Silver Linings, Beasts of the Southern Wild and Lincoln), but I want to focus on Django and Les Mis. I think Les Mis a quality film with some great music, but I also think it a rushed narrative that relies too much on telling what characters think and feel and too little on letting actors show it to us. I also think the movie underlit much of the time. Which is to say it has some flaws, flaws that render it good, not great.

        Django also has flaws, but I think them less significant than Les Mis’s. So while you’re probably right that it wasn’t going to win, I am unconvinced that Django didn’t deserve the victory, given its competition. Especially since Tarantino uses so many filmmaking elements to help set tone and mood, and also to propel the narrative.

        I like Les Mes well enough, and can respect your opinion that it’s the best of a weak year, but I think Django a step or two better.

  3. When Crash, one of the hokiest, most poorly thrown together movies ever, won Best Picture is when I stopped watching and caring about the Academy Awards altogether.

    Also, I see your point on 1976, but I would have chosen All the President’s Men. That was such a strong year though.

    • Thanks for commenting Brian,

      I definitely agree that the Oscars haven’t been as good as they use to be, but I still watch them out of a feeling of duty 🙂

      Crash was a terrible choice.

      I like ATPM, but I still think Network is a better film and when looking back on how reality TV has become so prevalent, the movie was able to prophesize a bit what would happen to TV in the (near) future

  4. I hate that Shakespeare in Love was even nominated for the best picture award at all. What a frigging snoozefest!
    Great list. You clearly know your stuff when it comes to the Academy Awards. I love watching them every year too, but I’m really getting annoyed with this push to make it seem young. Just make it. Period.

  5. Great questions, great answers, blog followed!

  6. Really interesting top 10!

  7. Reblogged this on MovieRob and commented:
    Joseph at TheCinemaMonster led me do this guest blog. Thanks Joseph!

  8. Fantastic article. The Hollywood Foreign Press are a bunch of sleazy geezers who are all in it for the grab bags, and this article highly illuminated some of their fallacies.

    I run a film site called http://www.jarwatchesfilms2.com in which I review every film I”ve seen for the first time– would you be interested in exchanging blogroll links?

  9. What a cool idea for a list! Nice job, fellas! Sadly, I am not super well-versed in some of the older films, but I can agree with you on pretty much every modern choice–aside from swapping Les Mis for Argo. I gotta stick with the Academy’s choice there. I didn’t even realize Shakespeare In Love beat Saving Private Ryan! How the heck did that happen?!

  10. Very interesting post – some of your choices I agree with, others not so much. I didn’t know In The Heat of the Night was up against Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, or if I did, I had forgotten but that would be one that I think seems fair. I’d agree with the Academy on that one. Similarly, I felt Braveheart and Argo were deserving but you’re right to highlight some poor choices, namely, Chicago, Crash and to a certain extent Slumdog Millionaire.

  11. Great list man! I agree with you on the Saving Private Ryan one… I mean really?!

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