Oscar Oddities: A Look at Strange Academy Award Nominations

“It’s an honor just to be nominated.” This is the sort of modest, self-effacing statement that Academy Award nominees will often make to assure the public, the media and perhaps even themselves that they’re not desperately, fervently hoping to take home one of the little golden men. In point of fact, one could almost make the case that it’s an honor never to be nominated, particularly when you consider the legendary actors and actresses, past and present, who fit that description. After all, what can you say about a movie acting award where Carol Channing has more nominations than John Barrymore, Steve Buscemi, Mia Farrow, Errol Flynn, Richard Gere, Jean Harlow, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Myrna Loy, Marilyn Monroe, Kim Novak, Maureen O’Hara, Tyrone Power, Dennis Quaid, Edward G. Robinson, and Donald Sutherland…COMBINED?

Now, my purpose here is certainly not to rail against Ms. Channing or her 1967 Best Supporting Actress nom for Thoroughly Modern Millie (If I wanted to criticize her, I’d mention her striptease the following year in Otto Preminger’s hippies vs. mobsters “comedy,” Skidoo). Nor do I wish to go into lengthy analysis of some of the deserving films and people passed by over the years; Movie FanFare already has two fine pieces on that subject, “I Would Not Like to Thank the Academy: Oscar Snubs Over the Years” (article) and “When the Best Picture Isn’t the ‘Best Picture'” (article). I’m just here to point out that, looking at the complete list of the thousands of Academy Award nominations over the last 80-plus years, there are a few names and titles whose “for your consideration” status sticks out like a sore thumb. The following examples are some of the more interesting ones I’ve come across:

1928 – Coming as they did at the dawn of the sound era, the very first Academy Awards were the only one where a silent film–the WWI drama Wings–won Best Picture, while The Jazz Singer was given a special technical award (“For the life of me I don’t see what Jack Warner can do with one of them,” star Al Jolson quipped. “It can’t say yes.”). But the most curious aspect of the evening was that, for the first and only time, a writing category for Best Title Writing  (the on-screen cards that displayed actors’ dialogue and elaborated on the action) was voted on. Unfortunately, no print of the winning film, a William Haines action/comedy called Telling the World, survives for us to look at. Even more unfortunately, award recipient Joseph Farnham died two years later, and Haines left acting by 1935 because he couldn’t “tell the world” he was gay.

1941 – This was the year that Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane was nominated for nine Oscars, but won only Best Original Screenplay. One of its noms went to composer Bernard Hermann, in a crowded Best Scoring of a Dramatic Picture field that included–among others–eventual winner All That Money Can Buy, Ball of Fire, How Green Was My Valley, Sergeant York and…King of the Zombies!? How the music (mostly voodoo drums) from a horror/comedy by Poverty Row studio Monogram Pictures wound up on the Academy ballot is anyone’s guess. Black magic, perhaps?

1944 – A lot has been said over the decades about the studio politicking that goes on to get an actor or actress’s performance in whichever category–lead or supporting–the filmmakers think they have the best shot at winning in (For example, why was Denzel Washington in the Best Actor field for Training Day, but co-star Ethan Hawke in Best Supporting Actor)? Well, Paramount managed to have it both ways in 1944, when beloved character actor Barry Fitzgerald garnered noms as both Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor for his turn as old-school priest Father Fitzgibbon in Going My Way. Call it good planning, divine intervention or both, because Fitzgerald took home the supporting statue, while co-star Bing Crosby managed to snag the Best Actor award.

1956 – Authors like to leave any drama on the printed page, but there were quite a few plot twists to the 1956 screenwriting nominations. One of the films vying for Best Adapted Screenplay, the Gary Cooper anti-war drama Friendly Persuasion, couldn’t mention writer Michael Wilson’s name on the ballot because he had been blacklisted for refusing to talk to the House Un-American Activities Committee. Meanwhile, one of the five films under Best Motion Picture Story, the MGM musical High Society, was not eligible because it was a remake of The Philadelphia Story, and a red-faced Academy pretended that the High Society script it actually meant to nominate was a Bowery Boys movie released the year before! That film’s producers graciously withdrew it from consideration. Things got more tangled when the eventual story winner, Robert Rich for The Brave One, didn’t appear at the ceremony and was later revealed to be another blacklisted scribe, Dalton Trumbo. The following year was nearly as convoluted, as the Oscar-winning screenplay for The Bridge on the River Kwai–credited to Pierre Boulle, writer of the original novel–was really the work of Wilson and fellow exile Carl Foreman (who scripted 1952’s High Noon for Cooper). Oh, and Trumbo was finally presented with his long-delayed Brave One statue in 1975, a year before his death. Whew!

1961 – Remember the Alamo?  Most Americans do. Remember the epic–if overblown–historical saga The Alamo, starring and directed by John Wayne? The Academy voters sure did, because they gave it seven nominations, including a somewhat controversial Best Picture nod that meant bypassing–among other films–Inherit the Wind, Psycho and Spartacus. The Duke would go on to mount a Texas-sized publicity campaign for his paean to frontier heroism, only to eke out a single Best Sound award. His efforts, however, inspired one of the film’s co-stars, veteran character actor Chill Wills, to push his own Best Supporting Actor nomination with a series of ads listing every Academy member by name and telling them, “Win, lose or draw, you’re all my cousins and I love you all.”  This prompted a follow-up ad from Groucho Marx which simply stated, “Dear Mr. Chill Wills, I am delighted to be your cousin, but I voted for Sal Mineo.”  (Read more about The Alamo here.)

1967 – Carol Channing, Best Supporting Actress nominee for Thoroughly Modern Millie. ‘Nuff said.

1976 – The statement “The movie King Kong won a special Oscar for its visual effects” shouldn’t raise anyone’s eyebrows. That is, not until you realize that it doesn’t refer to the 1933 classic and animator Willis O’Brien’s stop-motion menagerie (which got bupkis from the Academy), or even Peter Jackson’s CGI-packed 2005 film. No, we’re talking about the bloated, campy 1976 Dino De Laurentiis remake whose much-ballyhooed centerpiece–a 40-foot-high, six-and-a half-ton mechanical Kong–was on-screen for less than a minute. The majority of the simian action came courtesy of make-up genius Rick Baker in a none-too-convincing gorilla suit. The award’s announcement led effects guru Jim Danforth to resign from the Academy, saying that Baker “was not in any way…to be considered a ‘special visual effect,’ no more than Bert Lahr could be considered a special effect when he played the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz.”

1978 – Lush, sweeping gowns and sophisticated tuxedos; meticulously re-created historical outfits; exotic wardrobes from around the globe…since its inception in 1948, the Best Costume Design category has been emblematic of the beauty and pageantry that the Oscars like to celebrate. How, then, do you explain the Best Costume nomination given to producer Irwin Allen’s “killer bees on the rampage” thriller The Swarm?  It was a contemporary drama whose costumes basically consisted of lab coats, military uniforms and everyday, off-the-rack clothing. Were Academy voters really infatuated with beekeeper outfits? Or maybe “Master of Disaster” Allen had some friends in the sartorial wing, because two more of his apocalyptic actioners, 1972’s The Poseidon Adventure (waterlogged New Year’s Eve wear) and 1980’s When Time Ran Out (lava-covered South Seas togs), also received noms in that field.

1982 – And speaking of clothing, did the loincloths of Gandhi really deserve a Best Costume nomination, to say nothing of the Richard Attenborough epic’s eventual triumph over fellow contenders La Traviata, Sophie’s Choice, Tron and Victor/Victoria?

1996 – I’m certainly not going to fault any of the seven nominations that Joel and Ethan Coens’ snow-covered suspenser Fargo earned, but I would like to point out that the film marked the first nom in the Best Editing category for Roderick Jaynes, whose name would also turn up a decade later with 2007’s No Country for Old Men. Problem is, Roderick Jaynes doesn’t exist;  The name is a pseudonym used by the Coen Brothers, who edit their own films. Still, it doesn’t keep the Academy from putting Mr. Jayne’s name, the official on-screen credit, in contention.

2002 – Now, I’ll be one of the first to admit that it would take some sort of make-up genius to make Salma Hayek look unattractive. But, really, a Best Make-Up nomination (and win) for the biodrama Frida, with Hayek as Mexican painter Frida Kahlo? Giving Salma a unibrow merited an Oscar?

  • John Primavera

    I agree with your examples of wasted awards, in
    particular, GANDHI a dubious winner for costumes.
    But for me, wasting a Best Picture nomination on
    CRASH over the legendary BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, was
    a MONUMENTAL blunder. That dreck even went on to
    win in that catagory! Please pass the smelling

  • Rob

    I consider one of the BIGGEST miscarriages of justice to be Timothy Hutton’s nomination as Best SUpporting Actor for Ordinary People – COME ON – he WAS the movie – to nominate him for Supp. Actor simply b/c he couldn’t win against DeNiro (Raging Bull) is ridiculous – in addition to other reasons, it gave Hutton a TOTALLY unfair advantage and prob. robbed another of his castmates, Donald Sutherland, a nomination

  • Bert Warner

    The strangest academy nomonation for myself was Juliette Benoche for supporting actress when she was billed 2nd, while Kristin Scott Thomas who was billed 4th received Best Actress nomination?
    Juliette won while Kristin who had dominated the movie lost! How would it have turned out if the nominations had been reversed?

  • Mary

    I always felt Paul Newman and Piper Laurie should have one for The Hustler, but the competition was outrageous that year, especially all the nominees in Judgment at Nuremberg.

  • Jeff Heise

    For me, one of the great Oscar travesties was SWEET LEILANI winnng Best Song in 1937 over THEY CAN’T TAKE THAT AWAY FROM ME. Really? Seriously? Which song do you still hear and is still being recorded today? I dunno-when did Rod Stewart croon SWEET LEILANI?

    And THE GREAT ZIEGFELD won over DODSWORTH? Yegads!

  • John

    Despite being 10 years old at the time, Tatum O’Neal was the lead female in “Paper Moon.” She was in roughly 100 of the film’s 103 minutes. And the movie was basically all about her. This is a typical example of fitting a performer where they will have the best chance of winning.

  • Andrew

    Winning best song, “Talk to the Animals” over
    Burt Bacharach’s “The Look of Love”? I still
    can’t figure that one out!

    • nicolas

      I think a lot has to do with the kind of film it is. Dr. Doolitle was a musical, and I think at the time that is what swayed many of those voters at the time. Look at the many James Bond films which did not win for best song, or how about none of Enio Morricones scores for the Italian Westerns not only not winning, but not getting nominated. in Dr Doolitle I will say this, that song was not even the best one, it was when Rex Harrison sings to the seal before setting it free. When I was a kid seeing this flm after having read the book, I was really disapointed in it, but saw it on TV some many years latter, and for some reason was more enjoyable.

    • Bruce Reber

      That was one of the most blatant Oscar snubs of all time! One of the best Bacharach/David songs ever, and it was the only nomination that “Casino Royale” received. When was the last time you heard a sultry diva singing “Talk To The Animals”?
      My guess would be, well, NEVER!!!

  • Jared

    you forget that aside from the eyebrow in Frida there are also shots of Frida’s painting that are actually people covered in make-up

  • Pingback: Mantan Moreland: Funny Man in an Unfunny System | MovieFanFare()

  • Wayne F.

    The 1940 movie The Westerner, for all purposes was about the relationship between cowboy Gary Cooper and Judge Roy bean portrayer Walter Brennan. Brennan’s role in the movie was just as big and as crucial as Cooper’s. But since Brennan was always known as a Character actor, he was nominated and won as a supporting actor. Anthony Hopkins wins Best Actor for Silence of the Lambs, and he was in the film for all of 12 minutes. What does qualify you as a Actor and not a supporting one?

  • xDJ@V.YouBraveWorld.Tube

    Walter Matthau and Topol for 1971 Oscars, Best Actor category?! Kenneth Nelson was snubbed.

  • maxfabien

    I agree with the Kenneth Nelson best actor snub, (also the Leonard Frey best supporting actor snub. But “Boys in the Band” was from 1970. The best actor was George C. Scott. The other nominees were Ryan O’Neal, Jack Nicholson, James Earl Jones, and Melvyn Douglas, none of which were as dynamic as Kenneth Nelson.

  • maxfabien

    Just an added note, as for blatant oversights by the Oscars, this is a major one: “Patrik Age 1.5” not nominated for Best Foreign Film for 2008.

    • maxfabien

      While we’re at it, another unforgiveable snub was Lon Chaney Jr’s beautiful supporting performance in 1939’s “Of Mice and Men”.

  • Hugh O’Brien

    Dalton Trumbo did NOT write the script for “The Bridge on the River Kwai”. That was written by two other blacklisted writers, Carl Foreman and (again) Michael Wilson, who eventually got their Oscars posthumously in 1985. Also, listing the Bowery Boys’ 1955 “High Society” for the 1956 Best Story Oscar instead of the intended musical of the same name was a screw-up, not a cover-up, by the Academy. Anyway, there have been so many bad Oscar winners, nominations and snubs that a list could reach to the moon.

  • http://www.moviesunlimited.com Gary Cahall

    Hugh, thanks for the Trumbo catch. Two sentences in my original piece got mashed up, and I failed to catch the errors. Writers like Trumbo, Foreman and Wilson had a tough enough time without me not giving them their proper due.
    As for High Society, though, it still sounds like the Academy was trying to explain away its mistake. The writers of the Bowery Boys film’s names were on the nomination (leading the head of Allied Artists to quip “This just proves what we’ve known all along, that the Bowery Boys series couldn’t have lasted this long if not for the fine writers.”).

  • Ella

    The year Robert Duvall did NOT win The Gold
    for The Apostle was for me, The Great Travesty!
    Thanks, maxfabien, for acknowledging Leonard
    Frey and that great movie The Boys in the Band.
    Its good to be reminded of that one.

    • maxfabien

      You’re welcome Ella. I’m happy that others appriciate the fine acting in a much underrated film (Boys in the Band).

    • William Sommerwerck

      “The Apostle” is a tour-de-force of writing, acting, and directing. Duvall could very well have won for all three.

  • billyb34usa

    I’ll never forgive the Academy for giving Donat the best actor for Goodbye, Mr. Chips instead of Clark Gable for Gone With the Wind. I saw Mr. Chips recently and it didn’t hold up well at all, especially Donat’s performance.

    • Joe

      Well, I totally disagree. Yes, Gable was wonderful but Donat is truly superb. In this case, it was all due to that 39 year which is, as all agree, the finest film year ever!! However, Goodbye is, while not epic, a fine personal individual bit of acting that Gone was not able to allow. Afterall, don’t we all get to know, in personal life, if Mr. X is good when we talk with him one on one rather than in a crowded setting? Thus, the quiet 90 minutes of Donat allows us to see more acting than we do with Gable because most of the 4 hours is full of war, fire, and personal marriage difficulties.

    • nicolas

      When my girl friend and I finally saw Goodbye Mr. Chips a few years ago, I was flabergasted that this film wasn’t a better know classic, we were thourougly charmed by it, and so was her early 20 year old son. Can’t agree with you there.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1654433641 Tom Ciorciari

    How about fourth-billed Peter Finch winning best ACTOR for “Network” against DeNiro’s mesmerizing “Taxi Driver”? (Finch was great, but he should have been nominated in the best supporting actor category.)

  • roger lynn

    How about Joan Fontaine winning for Suspicion over Barbara Stanwycks,,hilarious Ball Of Fire,,and Ingrid Bergman winning for Gaslight when Ms Stanwyck should of won for Double Indemnity.Jane Wyamn for Johnny Belinda over Ms Stanwycks towering performance in Sorry Wrong Number,,and Luise Rainer for the Good Earth over Ms Stanwycks Stella Dallas==never has an injustice been so awful at the oscars..at least they gave Ms Stanwyck an OSCAR for her body of work,…

  • Frank Guerrasio

    “New York, New York” wasn’t even NOMINATED for best song ! Ginger Rogers in 1940 ? Take a look at the 4 other nominees, and you will not believe it !

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Brandt/100000598281568 Richard Brandt

    Unsurprisingly, most of your commenters are totally ignoring the topic of your post and using it as an excuse to bring up Academy snubs and unwarranted (in their opinion) winners. More to the point:

    In addition to Roderick Jaynes, the Academy nominated Charlie Kaufman’s nonexistent twin brother Donald as co-scenarist of ADAPTATION.

    One Oscar expert attributed “Sweet Leilani” to the low-brow tastes of extras who sweelled the Academy’s ranks in the 1930’s; he gave much the same explanation for the three wins of Walter Brennan, who had risen from their ranks.

    KING OF THE ZOMBIES is an odd one, but it appears as if in the 1940’s music departments of any of the studios, including poverty-row denizens like Monogram and PRC, could get their choice of a nominee listed in the music categories.

    Of course Monogram even WON an Oscar, for a documentary short called “Climbing the Matterhorn,” and I’ve read a convoluted conspiracy theory to explain that one: that Monogram’s “Dillinger” actually won the Screenplay award but the Academy, irate at Monogram and the picture for various reasons, fobbed off the statuette instead on an obscure foreign film, “Marie Louise.” The win for “Matterhorn” a couple of years later was the result of a compromise negotiated behind the scenes with the Academy: Monogram pasted it together from clips taken from an existing feature, submitted it to the Academy and they gave it the award.

    This also may explain “Dillinger” scribe Philip Yordan’s eventual nomination, and win, for Best Original Story for “Broken Lance,” even though it was a transparent re-write of his own “House of Strangers.” The Academy was pretty lax about the Original Story category during its existence, for example awarding it to the writer of the play that was the movie’s source material.

    Later on, in the 1970s, industry clout is given as an explanation for songwriters Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster wrangling nominations for songs from the extremely obscure “Half a House” and from “The Stepmother,” the only movie from cheapo drive-in exploitation specialist Crown International to ever land a nomination.

    “The Young Americans,” a vapid portrait of an “Up With People”-style vocal group featuring a young Vicki Lawrence, actually won the Best Documentary award before being disqualified based on a sneak preview showing before its year of eligibility and having to return the award.

    As I recall the furor over the “King Kong” award from reading VARIETY at the time, Dino De Laurentiis lobbied heavily for a prize after the Academy had already announced there would be no visual effects category awarded that year. In any case, the clip of the wretched Kong model appearing for its few seconds was an embarrassment at the awards ceremony. Perhaps as camouflage, the Governors presented a second special award for the effects in “Logan’s Run.”

    Much as I love Ian Bannen, his nomination for “The Flight of the Phoenix” remains for me one of Oscar’s enduring mysteries.

    You can go through the years cherry-picking all kinds of odd selections; the unremarkable 1956 B-Western “Stagecoach to Fury” for Best B&W Cinematography, for instance. No doubt behind-the-scenes studio politicking and campaigning have a lot to do with it. The Golden Globes, on the other hand, for years had a reputation of being simply corrupt.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=709558049 Bill Weeden

    You fail to mention the two movies that “Gandhi” beat out that are greater than the ones you cite. Both “Tootsie” and “E.T.” are ten times the films that “Gandhi” ever was.

    • http://www.facebook.com/robert.g.clark.9 Robert G. Clark

      Had “ET” been released either the following year or the year prior, it would have gotten Best Picture. “Gandhi” won that award because very few people had probably been aware of what a man he was. They had heard of Gandhi and maybe how he died, but they did not know the story behind the man. In a way he was the Jesus Christ to the Indians as perhaps Martin Luther King, Jr. was to the blacks. I had hoped “ET” would win until I saw “Gandhi.” Then, I had to cede the award to Richard Attenborough and company.

      • nicolas

        Saw both Gandhi and ET, but felt the best picture should have gone to Tootsie with Dustin Hoffman and directed by Sydney Pollack. Do people talk much about the movie Gandhi now? I mean I enjoyed it when I saw it, the first part very powerful, slowed down a little bit at the end.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jay.defelice.7 Jay DeFelice

    In regards to Roderick Jaynes and the poster above’s mention of Charlie Kaufman’s twin brother…the academy nominates merits not people. No film can compete against itself in any category except for acting. When editors or writers or whatever other branches of the academy fill out their ballots in the nominating process they write down FARGO or NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN and that’s it. No mention of the person actually associated with the work is mentioned until the final nominations are announced.

  • lrobertsmovie

    How about MOONRISE KINGDOM only being nominated for Best Original Screenplay this year? It should get that and best cinematography at least. I personally would like it to win best picture and beat out overrated Spielberg, but I know the Powers That Be simply can’t fail to give his films Best Picture if one’s in the running.


    How about Theo Ishkabibble for “I SAW THEM ONCE BUT NEVER AGAIN”.

  • Michael Nella

    Not going with what should have won, I have two nominations that show that the Oscars will nominate anything. 1) In 1951, a decent movie called I Was a Communist for the FBI comes out based on the book by Matt Cvetic of how he posed as a Red while working for the FBI. Stars Frank Lovejoy and Dorothy Hart and scripted by Crane Wilbur. What Oscar nod did it get? Best Documentary. IT’S A SCRIPTED MOVIE. 2) Kenneth Brannagh’s 1995 Hamlet was reported to be the first full length version of Shakespeare’s play, which got an Oscar nod for Best Adapted Screenplay.

    • hupto

      In fairness, Branagh himself thought the nomination was silly and pooh-poohed it.

  • BarryM

    Good to see someone else point out the absurdity of actors being nominated in the wrong categories just for the maximize winning chances. This happens these days more than ever. (This year: Helen Hunt and Christoph Waltz in support for leading roles).

    But why pick on Carol Channing in your opening? That was one time the Academy got the nomination very RIGHT – for her delightfully off-the-wall performance, certainly the only time her very strange and unique talents were well utilized on screen. The image of her starting her act by being shot out of a cannon (thereby prompting Julie Andrews’ priceless line “What a FULL life she leads!”) is one of the great moments in musical comedies.

    • Bruce Reber

      Estelle Parsons won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar in ’67 for her performance as Blanche in “Bonnie and Clyde”. IMO the academy definitely got the winner right!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Gebert/1122931181 Michael Gebert

    I was going to say, this will be one of those BS articles that hasn’t seen anything before 1990, and then I see it… King of the Zombies, the first thing I thought of as the “strangest Oscar nomination.” Monogram Pictures’ only nomination ever. How did it get a nomination? Because it’s really, really good, and bless the composers’ branch for honoring it regardless of the fact that it’s from a cheesy horror movie from a low rent studio.

  • Bwaymike

    The Oscar and nominations are all based on popularity at the current moment, who was deserving for a previous performance and didn’t win, who’s been around the longest, who the academy likes at the moment, who is famous as a comic and gives a dramatic performance, who is beautiful and plays an ugly person, who has the most studio backing, etc. Many of the wins for best picture are absurd. For example THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH over SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN which wasn’t even nominated and didn’t win any Oscars at all! But De Mille had been around forever and in failing health so give him the award. Most of the time they go to relentless mediocrities who outdo themselves with IMPORTANT pictures aka Kevin Costner, Warren Beatty, Natalie Portman, Gwenyth Paltrow to name a few who then turn around and land turds like ISHTAR, WATERWORLD and everything Paltrow and Portman have appeared in since their wins. It is a bizarre world we live in when Elizabeth Taylor with that chalk on a blackboard voice wins two Oscars and people like Carole Lombard and Cary Grant, to name just two, never won once.

    • hupto

      Well, AN AMERICAN IN PARIS had won several Oscars–including Picture–the year before, so it’s kind of understandable that SITR would be ignored because “they just won last year.”

  • William Sommerwerck

    One of the most-undeserved awards is “Best Screenplay — Adapted” for “No Country for Old Men”. The Coens had their secretary transcribe the novel’s dialog, then discard what they didn’t want. (Only a couple of lines are original.)
    This worked, because Cormac McCarthy writes magnificent dialog, and the book /reads/ like a Coen brothers story. (If you didn’t know McCarthy wrote it, you’d think they did.) The screenplay is not, in any valid sense, an “adaptation”, but a Xerox.

  • MikeyK

    The poster’s comments about Hamlet’s Screenplay nomination, points to the fact that a screenplay involves more than just the words. How else to justify a 34 minute short film with almost no dialogue winning Best Original Screenplay for 1956 – The Red Balloon.

  • Rain

    How about the omission of The Lord of the Rings for Best Cinematography?? Overlooked because it would’ve broken the “12th Oscar” barrier. That was just wrong.

  • abcpc1

    After my 56 years on the planet, I’m come to the realization that the Academy Awards, and ALL entertainment awards for that matter, have NOTHING to do with “Artistic” effort, but EVERYTHING to do with WELL PLACED PROMOTION CASH.

  • Topazinator

    Modern Hollywood: What a has-been mode of entertainment! It was overrun with “Progressives” back then; it’s brimming with “Progressives” now. Ho-hum. . . . Bring on the elephants.

  • N

    Nothing will be as upsetting as Peter O’Toole never winning an Oscar. He should have won for Lawrence of Arabia, Beckett, The Ruling Class, and my favorite year. Absolutely ridiculous. It pisses me off ever time I think of it.

    • Janine

      Totally agree!

    • David Weingarten

      I totally agree.

  • http://twitter.com/Bryankr Bryan Ruffin

    Personally, I am of the mind that it has been bought and paid for! I mean, if a movie that hasn’t even shown and yet wins Best Picture!? That can’t be a level playing field!

  • Joe

    Quite honestly a major and strange omission is with the actual Year 1 Best Pictures! In 1927, first time awards, SUNRISE won as Best Artistic Picture whereas WINGS ‘only’ received Best Popular Picture. However, throughout the rest of the years, there has only one Best Picture category given. For some reason (anti-German attitude?) Murnau’s masterpieces is ignored and only WINGS gets credit for that year’s BP.

    Anyone, disagree? Then check the actual records and you will know I am correct on this historical slip-up. A secondary source to illustrate this matter is on page 317 in History of American Cinema (V. 3) An Evening’s Entertainment: The Age of the Silent Feature Picture, 1915-1928 by Richard Koszarski (Scribners, 1990).

    Thus, I, for one, always bring that fact up whenever the topic arises – which is often as this longtime Silent Fan has run various film showings over the decades at MoMA and other places!!! Of course, it is somewhat personal since SUNRISE is literally my all time favorite film. As a matter of fact, MoMA had/has the only actual print 9the negative no longer exists) of that movie and, years ago, my friend, the Curator, told me 20th Century (owns the copyright despite no actual print) was going to release it on Video (yeah, my interest for that flick is deep and long-range) I kept on calling them. Eventually, after about 6 months, 20th Century CALLED ME and said “Due to your intense interest, we are sending forth to you the first one.” Well, they actually didn’t number it but it came the day before the release date!! 😀

    Needless to say, I now have it on discs – Standard and Blu-Ray!!

  • CJ

    I haven’t watched the Oscars since “Raiders of the Lost Ark” was snubbed in 1981.

  • Marshall

    Re: Costumes for Ghandi. The author neglects to mention that Ghandi is a period film covering South Africa , India and English colonialists from the end of the 1800’s to the middle of the 1900’s/ So there are a great deal of period costumes besides the ‘loin cloths’ or dhoti. As for bad nominations, in the past, the large studios had a great deal of support from their employees. ( wouldn’t you vote for your boss’s favorite?)

  • Nicolas

    I never realized that Spartacus was not even nominated for best picture. That is even a bigger snub than Kubrick’s film 2001 not getting nominated.

  • Bruce Reber

    What about 1967, when Rod Steiger won Best Actor for “In The Heat Of The Night” over such competition as Paul Newman (“Cool Hand Luke”), Warren Beatty (“Bonnie and Clyde”), Dustin Hoffman (“The Graduate”) and Spencer Tracy (“Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner”, his final film)? Many have said that it was a make-up call for Steiger being nominated and snubbed in 1965 for his powerful performance as a Holocaust survivor in “The Pawnbroker”, and I totally agree. C’mon, Lee Marvin winning Best Actor for playing a gunfighter staggering around drunk in “Cat Ballou? Gimme a break!!! Also, I think Sidney Poiter deserved a Best Actor nod for ITHOTN-IMO he had the more important role. Or maybe one for “To Sir With Love”-Poiter was also very good in that one too. 1949, when James Cagney got snubbed big-time for his explosive (pun intended) performance as psycho, mama’s boy gangster Cody Jarrett in “White Heat”. 1964, when Peter Sellers got a Best Actor nod (for playing 3 different characters yet) in “Dr. Strangelove”, and lost to Rex Harrison for “My Fair Lady”. 1953, when William Holden won for “Stalag 17”-I thought he was good, but not nearly as good as Burt Lancaster or Montgomery Clift in “From Here To Eternity” (they both got Best Actor nods and cancelled each other out). 1962, when Bette Davis was nominated for “Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?” but not Joan Crawford-it would have been interesting to see how much farther their rivalry would have gone if they’d been competing head-to-head for the same Best Actress Oscar (they’d probably have cancelled each other out too)-Anne Bancroft eventually won for “The Miracle Worker”. And 1970, when George C. Scott won Best Actor for “Patton” over Jack Nicholson in “Five Easy Pieces”. While Scott’s performance was good, Nicholson was way better as complicated classical pianist Bobby Dupea-who can forget the classic restaurant scene (“Take the chicken and hold it between your legs!).

    • KarenG958

      I think Lee Marvin absolutely deserved an Oscar for Cat Ballou. He was tremendous as both Kid Sheleen and his evil brother, Strawn.

      • Bruce Reber

        Sorry, but IMO Steiger in “The Pawnbroker” was way better. I guess we have different cinematic tastes.

  • hiram

    On target about lead performances that get nominated as supporting ones. Hawke is equal to Washington, Binoche (she actually has second billing behind Fiennes) equal to Thomas, Pacino much more the lead than Brando. Relative newcomers and old veterans always get the supporting nomination regardless of the size of the role (Art Carney excepted).

    • dirkwrestler

      yes, didn’t Goldie Hawn win for CACTUS FLOWER in the Supporting category when she was in almost every scene?
      And then there was Dame Judy Dench’s winning performance in SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE that totalled only 6 minutes of screen time? LOL
      Both Actresses are totally deserving, but are the categories correct??

      • Bruce Reber

        See my comment re: Walter Matthau in “The Fortune Cookie”.

  • david rackley

    the ocsar award. I think is over rated . cause I think that there are so many movies that are over looked especially from the horror genre and b rated cinema that were really good. and the reason they are over looked ,no large budget . such as hostle,wrong trun, evil dead. which are great movies! and no one will give recigntion to!!!

  • Bruce Reber

    Walter Matthau’s Best Supporting Actor win in ’66 for “The Fortune Cookie” IMO is another Oscar oddity. Why wasn’t he nominated for Best Actor? His role was central to the movie, while co-star Jack Lemmon essentially played straight man to Matthau. I guess they thought Matthau didn’t have a chance against Best Actor noms Richard Burton (“Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?”) and Paul Scofield, winner for “A Man For All Seasons”.

  • Barry Monush

    Carol Channing’s performance in “Thoroughly Modern Millie” is simply sublime. Or as Julie Andrews says in the film as Carol is shot out of cannon for our entertainment pleasure (in one of the great deadpan campy lines): “What a FULL life she leads!”

  • roger lynn

    Marvin was great in CAT BALLOU,,,comedy is harder to play that heavy drama,,,,ROBERT MITCHUM gave one of the best performances in his career in FAREWELL MY LOVELY ,,he was robbed,,,,

  • NJ Lady

    roger lynn — Lee Marvin must have been “great” in CAT BALLOU, because The Academy chose him over the great Richard Burton and Oskar Werner in the political heavy drama “The Spy Who Came In From The Cold.” They being passed up for a shared Oscar shocked many people in the audience. I never got over it!