Some see the Academy Awards as a way to gauge whether a film is good or not. This is a foolish move and here are the top ten reasons why. Yes, ladies and gentlemen of the TBR jury, here are the top ten Oscar Snubs of all time:
10. Robert De Niro Completely Ignored for Mean Streets
Robert De Niro was one of the greatest young actors in the 70’s, and yet somehow what should have been the role to bring him to the pinnacle of acting at the time was hugely overlooked by the Academy. Somehow, Johnny Boy in Mean Streets did not even receive a nomination. This is despite winning the National Society of Film Critics award for Best Supporting Actor.
Watch this and tell me De Niro has just found his game, and seems to be breathing his character rather than acting:
9. No Country For Old Men over There Will Be Blood
This is more of a personal decision than an overwhelmingly thought snub, but it needs to be here. The Coen brothers will receive no negativity here; their winner No Country For Old Men is a great film that somehow encapsulates the flaws of the modern world in the plains of 1980’s West Texas. (A lot of this credit will be Cormac McCarthy’s also.)
There Will Be Blood, on the other hand, gripped me to such an extent that I willed it with all my might to take the top award from the Coens on the night. The Paul Thomas Anderson feature was murky while having completely well-rounded characters, and dealt with the greed of the modern man, which was a hot topic that year.
And all of this in a more sophisticated and subdued manner than No Country For Old Men, whose last hour – like or dislike it – was incredibly vocal about what the film’s meaning was.
There was no such qualm with There Will Be Blood, which told its greedy horror story and allowed us to make the connections ourselves.
8. Sean Penn in Milk over Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler
Sean Penn is a great actor. His role in Milk is a great one and his performance is as endearing as it is convincing. His awarding of the Oscar for Best Actor had more than a slight tinge of politics to it, however.
Mickey Rourke’s role in The Wrestler was the best of his career. His intensity and sadness throughout stems directly from his soul-sapping attempts at a professional boxing career.
This decision to leave the acting circuit had a hand in the political choice to the awarding of the Oscar to Penn.
Rourke left the acting circuit in the late 80’s, doubting himself as an actor – and also apparently making disparaging remarks about the whole Hollywood scene – only to return to a limited extent in 1995. The Wrestler was his first Oscar nomination to that point or since, and the powers that used his attitude toward the high-powered acting scene and bad reputation as a leg-up for Penn.
7. Dennis Hopper Acknowledged for Hoosiers But Not Blue Velvet
One of the most memorable roles that Dennis Hopper has played (no, I’m not talking Speed…) is Frank Booth from the 1986 film Blue Velvet. The sociopath and drug dealer, who extorts sadomasochistic sexual favours and inhales Amyl nitrate is one of the most memorable villains of all time.
Instead he is recognised for playing a drunk who supports the local high school basketball teamin the film of the same year, Hoosiers. Maybe the Academy confused the two roles?
6. Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive over Ralph Fiennes in Schindler’s List
I hadn’t known that Tommy Lee Jones had won an Oscar for his role in The Fugitive. When I found it during my research I absolutely balked.
Tommy Lee Jones? Has an Oscar? For his role in The Fugitive?
That action romp with Harrison Ford and the weird guy with one arm and the jump into the river?
You mean this movie?
How does that compare to the astonishing performance of Ralph Fiennes in Schindler’s List? He plays a real man, Amon Goeth, a man whose reputation alone would chill your blood. He was executed at age 37, having been found guilty of murdering tens of thousands of people. And yet, he doesn’t wish to pass on his cold.
A wonderful character wonderfully played, and a pure snub if ever there was one.
If we really wanted to get our hands dirty, we could involve Pete Postlethwaite, Leonardo DiCaprio and John Malkovich, and their nominated performances in the same year. There’s no way Jones should have gotten anywhere near that podium.
5. Forrest Gump over Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption
Pulp Fiction was a revolutionary film, bringing to the masses the post-modern feel of indie that would soon all but take over the cinema industry. Some weren’t taken by the explicit gangster scenes and saw it (perhaps correctly) as overly pretentious. Young film students revelled in it.
On the other hand, Shawshank Redemption had such an epic feel on a grand scale that the masses were immediately taken by its charm. A more mainstream affair than Tarantino’s game changer, it is surprising to see the Academy not side with the wrongly imprisoned hero.
As is the trend, the underdog story instead got the attention, the underdog story that easily pushed past Andy Dufresne’s. It is clear that the story of the Shawshank Redemption is more developed than Forrest’s, but it’s tough to be more of an underdog than the Southern man with the IQ of 75 who manages to be a war hero, master ping pong and teach Elvis Presley his dance moves.
In my eyes, this moving scene should have sealed it:
4. Scorsese Winning for The Departed, and Nothing Else
Like him or loathe him – and believe me, there are more haters out there than you would think – Martin Scorsese has become one of the kings of cinema over the past three decades. His directorial trade marks tire and his focus on scale grows frustrating in his nineties films in particular. His early films, however, are sheer class. My favourite of his is Taxi Driver without doubt, but Mean Streets and Raging Bull come close behind. Goodfellas and Casino often get the attention, but they fall behind in comparison.
Disagree with above if you must – I have no qualms with Goodfellas being top of any list – but you all must agree with the following: The Departed is nowhere near his best film. The Departed is among his weakest, and the Academy felt that since Scorsese had never won it before, that they would throw him a long overdue bone. I do enjoy Mark Wahlberg in his vicious role, but otherwise a token statuette is a foul move and no way makes up for its past mistakes. (More on Scorsese below.)
3. Driving Miss Daisy?
No one in the film industry in 1989 thought that the slow-paced visual tumbleweed that was Driving Miss Daisy would win any major awards at the Oscars. Not only did neutral spectators vote against it, but its own star wasn’t overly expectant of the film. The week the film came out, Morgan Freeman had not only Driving Miss Daisy, but a second film, Glory, to promote. Freeman himself had written off Daisy and wanted to talk about Glory solely when being interviewed by Mark Kermode in that year.
The film is the least enjoyable of all of the nominees. Field of Dreams was a light affair and you could argue about Dead Poet’s Society’s depth also but the other two films seem like much better options. My Left Foot stole the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress statues, which may have been a factor, but it or Born on the Fourth of July easily overshadow the racially over-handed yawn-fest that Morgan Freeman wasn‘t keen to promote.
So on one side we have the “high-strung” (passionately racist) comedy with such quips as;
“You took the wrong turn.” “Well now, you took it with me. And you have the map.”
On the other, a startling look at the tremors that last long after an horrific war:
It’s no contest in my eyes.
2. Rocky over Taxi Driver and Network
I dealt with Scorsese above, and so you’ll understand my attitude on Taxi Driver losing out to the corny Rocky, but I’m similarly if not more outraged by the perfect Network being overlooked. Directed by the master and one of the best directors ever, Sidney Lumet manages to equal his previous work 12 Angry Men, and is one of the only directors to have flawless films – plural.
How both of these masterpieces could lose out to Stallone’s grunting and the Eye of the Tiger montage is really beyond me. Rocky Balboa’s tale is a typical if well told underdog story about an old dog who tries to out-bite the young. Compare that to the dystopian Schrader and Scorsese world, or the satirical while poignant tale of the newscaster Howard Beale brought to life by Lumet and Paddy Chayefsky and you have one hell of a mismatch.
1. Citizen Kane for Everything
Citizen Kane is cited as the best film of all time. What did it win at the Oscars? Best Original Screenplay.
It should have won Best Director, Best Actor, Best Picture and more and more…
By Conor O’Hagan