I can remember a time when I was naïve enough to think that the Oscar winners were all deserving – that these films truly were the best. Oh, youth. Nowadays I think we’re all cynical and aware enough to realise that there’s a lot of politics, sucking up and strategic voting that goes on, and more often than not the films and film-makers that seem truly deserving and ground-breaking go Oscar-less.
This year’s nomination list has generated some heated debate about ‘snubs’ from the Academy Award list: Inside Llewyn Davies has just 2 nominations, Rush’s Daniel Brühl was on many people’s Supporting Actor shortlist, and there were the surprise absences of Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks and Robert Redford from the acting nominees.
However, 2014 is certainly not alone in terms of ‘snub’ controversy.
1942: Best Picture
I’ll put my cards on the table now – I’m Welsh, and proud of anything even tenuously labelled ‘Welsh’. However, How Green Was My Valley beating one of the greatest cinematic achievements of all time to Best Picture and Best Director is ludicrous. Citizen Kane, perpetually on top of ‘Greatest’ lists, is still a classic today, and Orson Welles considered one of film’s great talents. When was the last time you watched How Green Was My Valley – a film about hard life in a Welsh mining town shot in Malibu?
1973: Supporting Actor AND Best Director
Ok – so The Godfather won Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actor. But who the hell in their right mind thought Francis Ford Coppola wasn’t the Best Director? That honour went to Bob Fosse, for musical Cabaret. Furthermore, screen legends Al Pacino, Robert Duvall and James Caan all lost out in the Best supporting Actor round – again Cabaret took home the spoils. One can only assume that the Corleone trio cancelled each other out.
1994: Best Picture AND Best Supporting Actor
Forrest Gump won ahead of Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption. I feel like that’s all that needs to be said. Yeah, ok Forrest is funny, and nostalgic, and one of those easy-watchers, but pretty much everyone I know says The Shawshank Redemption is the best movie/their favourite, and if you say Pulp Fiction isn’t great we can’t be friends anymore. Samuel L Jackson’s Jules is one of the greatest characters in cinema, and that the Pulp Fiction legend was beaten by Martin Landau (his third nomination) in Ed Wood, is one of the biggest injustices in Oscar history.
2009: Best Picture
This was the snub that broke the camel’s back… or… well, you see what I mean. Don’t get me wrong – I loved Slumdog Millionaire and Danny Boyle is a genius. However, The Dark Knight’s shocking absence from the Best Picture nominees led to the extension of the list from 5 films to 10 for future ceremonies. Not that it helped this year – 2009 also saw films such as The Wrestler and Revolutionary Road miss out on even being nominated, while ethical-dilemma snooze-fest
(sorry!) The Reader snuck in.
2011: Best Picture
127 Hours, Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Social Network, Winter’s Bone, True Grit, Toy Story 3, The Kids Are Alright, The King’s Speech. Out of that list of films, there’s no way The King’s Speech should have been selected as Best Picture. British pride and all, but come on… The Oscars love a sombre, underdog (even if they’re royal), historical film, and this ticks all the boxes. I liked the film, but seriously, some of the films it was up against in 2011 still rank as some of the most innovative, creative and downright awesome films of all time, and I bet if you even saw the royal speech-therapy film in the first place, you didn’t see it a second time.
Alfred Hitchcock – without a doubt one of the greatest directors of all time, and the master of suspense – never won an Academy Award for his directing. He was nominated 5 times (for Rebecca, Lifeboat, Spellbound, Rear Window and Psycho), but never won. Like… never.