And The Oscar Didn’t Go To…

26 Feb

83 years since they began, the Academy Awards still hold an aura of awe and amazement that’s normally reserved for big sporting events. This is almost impossible to comprehend because this is the organisation that deemed such drivel classics as CrashDriving Miss Daisy and Cimarron to be the finest cinema had to offer in their respective years. You can’t please everyone but the Academy rarely pleases anyone. Here’s my expose of the Oscar’s 5 most glaring errors…

Citizen Kane

Nominations: 9

Won: 1

Best Picture Winner: How Green Was My Valley?

To be fair to the Academy, they gave Citizen Kane a very impressive 9 nominations. However, for what is now regarded as the greatest film of all time to only win in one category – Best Writing (Original Screenplay) – seems quite shocking. The results were undoubtedly down to the influence exerted by William Randolph Hearst, the powerful media mogul who the film was based on. He tried desperately to suppress the film and thankfully failed. It’s very telling that almost all contemporary references to Hearst are in the context of the film. As The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance put it – “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend”. Valance, one of the best Westerns ever made, was also snubbed at the Oscars but in the year that brought us Lawrence of Arabia and not, in the case of Kane, How Green Was My Valley?it’s much easier to get your head around. The only reason to watch the incredibly dated How Green Was My Valley? is to see what bested Citizen Kane.

The Third Man

Nominations: 3 

Won: 1

Best Picture Winner: All About Eve

Widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time, Carol Reed’s The Third Man was slightly ignored at the 23rd Academy Awards. It garnered three nominations – Best Director, Best Black and White Cinematography and Best Film Editing – but Best Picture eluded it Harry Lime-style. This would have been easier to tolerate if Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard scooped the top gong but the award went to the admittedly iconic but still rather average All About Eve. The Third Man has a connection with the aforementioned Citizen Kane in the form of Orson Welles who gave one of his greatest performances as Harry Lime. To the eternal shame of the Academy, Welles, despite being one of the best actors and directors to ever have walked the promenades of Hollywood, was continually snubbed  and won only two Oscars – one for writing Citizen Kane and the other a non-competitive honorary award.

Singin’ in the Rain

Nominations: 2

Won: 0

Best Picture Winner: The Greatest Show on Earth

In the year when Cecil B DeMille’s lavishly overindulgent The Greatest Show on Earth took home Best Picture, now-perennial favourite Singin’ in the Rain was shockingly overlooked. The Greatest Show on Earth is now recognised as one of the worst Best Picture winners though Steven Spielberg does credit it with inspiring him to become a filmmaker. Everyone else has since recognised The Greatest Show on Earth for the bad egg it is and Singin’ in the Rain as a toe-tapping, feel-good musical masterpiece – the balance of the world has been restored.

Vertigo

Nominations: 2

Won: 0

Best Picture Winner: Gigi

Of the four films directed by Alfred Hitchcock to be nominated for Best Picture, only Rebecca won (and arguably, it should have been The Great Dictator). The Academy didn’t nominate what are today recognised as his greatest works – Psycho, Rear Window, The Birds and Vertigo – for Best Picture and in a year where the nominees were universally poor, Vertigo didn’t just deserve a nomination – it deserved to win.

2001: A Space Odyssey

Nominations: 4

Won: 1

Best Picture Winner: Oliver!

In 1969, the Academy wanted to apologise to Carol Reed for the injustice that was the lack of a Best Picture nomination for The Third Man so they gave his musical based on the Broadway musical based on the Charles Dickens classic Oliver! a whopping 11 nominations – of which it won 6. Now, I have a bit of a soft spot for Oliver! and it’s musical numbers are so toe-tapping that your buttocks will not even notice the 153 minute duration but the film that should have unequivocally swept the board is Stanley Kubrick’s masterful 2001: A Space Odyssey. They did give Kubrick what would be his only Oscar – for Best Visual Effects – but that doesn’t seem quite enough for a film like 2001: A Space Odyssey. Shockingly, they didn’t give his earlier masterpiece, Paths of Glory, any nominations either.

 

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