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Friday, February 22, 2013

5 Controversial Best Picture Winners That Actually Deserved To Win

Now is the perfect time of year for people to produce articles about the biggest Best Picture Academy Award snubs of all time. Hell, we here at The Cover 3 did it. Time Magazine, The Huffington Post, and Entertainment Weekly all recently released their issue of the biggest Best Picture follies of all time. Grantland just had a March Madness style bracket of the worst Academy Award blunders of the past 25 years. The Oscars get things wrong all the time and we love to argue those missteps. However, I think we have gone too far the other way. I think we love to argue about how the Academy went wrong so often that we end up making points we shouldn't be making. I am here to rectify that. This is my list of the 5 Controversial Best Picture Winners That Actually Deserved To Win.

Crash over Brokeback Mountain (2005) 

Crash seems to be the poster child for egregious Academy Award blunders. Grantland put Crash winning Best Picture as its Number One seed among the list of 64 because they are so appalled by the win. Even when Crash lost in the Elite Eight to Shakespeare in Love winning Best Picture (which is infinitely the bigger error), all the site could do was complain about Crash. Grantland and everybody else needs to let this go.

For starters, can we please all stop pretending that Brokeback Mountain is all that great of a picture?! The movie is good but it is not THAT good. Also, 2005 was a pretty weak year for movies. If you thought Brokeback Mountain was the best film of that year, it was probably by default. In good and deep years like 1994, 2010, and 2012, Brokeback Mountain would barely crack people's Top 5 lists. Mountain is also a movie that has not stood the test of time and it hasn't even been a decade since it first came out. If it weren't for these Oscar snub posts, Brokeback Mountain wouldn't be within the realm of pop culture.

Secondly, and most importantly, Crash is just a better film that Brokeback. I understand the criticism that Crash is too coincidental and it really doesn't have a message when you get down to the nitty girtty of it. I have two responses to that. 1) People weren't critiquing the film when it was an underdog to the powerhouse of Brokeback Mountain leading up to Oscar season, but the flaws came out of the woodwork after it won Best Picture. 2) Of course it's coincidental, it's a movie! If you look at the film for just the blanket statement on race and human nature versus over-analyzing it and thinking it says something more than it does (which the film clearly does not try to do or say), then it's great.

Even if you disagree with me and think Brokeback Mountain is better, it is not light years better than Crash that all this Crash outrage is deserved.

Forrest Gump over Pulp Fiction (1994)

First of all, I need to say that the bigger travesty is that The Shawshank Redemption did not win any awards, including Best Picture at the 1995 Oscars. I personally think that The Shawshank Redemption is the best film ever and IMDB agrees with me. I also think that Shawshank was the best film in 1994 and AFI agrees with me on that. However, the general consensus is that Pulp Fiction deserved to win Best Picture so we'll discuss that snub.

I don't actually agree that Forrest Gump is the best film of 1994. I think it is the third best behind The Shawshank Redemption and, yes, Pulp Fiction. If the Academy could go back and re-do the 1995 Oscars with today's hindsight, I do not think Forrest Gump wins Best Picture again.

However, with all of that being said, Forrest Gump is an incredible film and one of the best films of all time. This is a film that has and will stand the test of time. It is incredible and a masterpiece. In almost every other year, Forrest Gump is hands down the best film of that year. However, because 1994 was so deep, it just happened to not be the best film THAT year.

I agree that Pulp Fiction probably should have won Best Picture that year but the difference between Forrest Gump and Pulp Fiction is not so great that is deserves national attention every year for this snubbery. If Pulp Fiction had actually won in 1995 then every one of these Best Picture snub lists would say Forrest Gump got screwed instead. Neither film deserves to be on any snub list because both are great.

Driving Miss Daisy over The Field (1989)

Overall, the 1980's were a pretty weak decade for films. The best movies of the decade and the ones that stood the test of time are mainly the films that resonates with the youth- which essentially were John Hughes films. Other top movies of that decade such as Top Gun, The Princess Bride, and This Is Spinal Top will be remembered, but I don't think anyone would consider them "Oscar-worthy". They are good and should be remembered, but these are also the type of films that personified the decade.

At the end of this pretty weak decade we had Driving Miss Daisy win the Academy Award for Best Picture. While there is not the national outcry for this "horrible" selection like there is for The Social Network, Goodfellas, and Brokeback Mountain losing, Grantland still had Driving Miss Daisy winning Best Picture as an Oscar Travesty AND it actually won a round.

The other films that were nominated for Best Picture in 1989 were: Born of the 4th of July, Dead Poets Society, Field of Dreams, and My Left Foot. Those four films are good but like the rest of the decade that proceeded it, none of them are amazing either. I guess people will say Field of Dreams hands down deserved to win but I wasn't that big of a fan of it. The fact that I have to write "The Field" over a specific movie should tell you everything you need to know.

If anything I love Driving Miss Daisy's win for the sole fact that Argo has a punchers chance to win Best Picture this year. Since 1932, the only film to win the Oscar for Best Picture without having its director nominated for Best Director was Driving Miss Daisy. At the very least, I appreciate the precedent Miss Daisy set.

I agree that Driving Miss Daisy isn't outstanding and incredible. When you watch the film you don't say "Wow, that was so good I bet it won Best Picture". However, you don't say that about any of the other films of 1989 either. So, whatever.

American Beauty over The Field (1999) had "American Beauty Wins Best Picture" as a five seed in it's March Madness poll. While it didn't even advance a round (which is a good thing to me), it still was on the list.

Unlike 1989, 1999 was an excellent year for films. However, the problem that we run across in this instance is that many of those excellent films were not nominated for Best Picture. American Beauty beat out The Cider House Rules, The Green Mile, The Insider, and The Sixth Sense. The only film out of those four that truly deserved to have won was The Sixth Sense.

The bigger issue at large was that great films like The Matrix, Fight Club, Magnolia, Being John Malkovich, and South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut were NOT nominated. But that is not the Academy's fault. The specific guilds are the ones that do the nominations but it is the Academy as a whole that does the final voting. American Beauty barely holds a candle to the films that I mentioned that were not nominated but it's light shines pretty brightly against the other four that were nominated.

I personally think that The Sixth Sense is brilliant and that it was easily the best film that was nominated over the other four. However, objectively, American Beauty is great. For starters, it stars Kevin Spacey and the man can (almost) do no wrong. Secondly, it is just a great flick. It tells the story of our country where we were at that point in time. Sam Mendes is a great storyteller who told an incredible story.

Was American Beauty the very best film of 1999? Absolutely not. However, it still was an incredible film and nobody should be up in arms about its win either.

The Hurt Locker over Avatar (2009)

Time Magazine said The Hurt Locker winning the Best Picture Oscar over Avatar was one of the 10 most controversial Best Picture wins of all time.

Truly, the best film of 2009 was Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds and that is not close. Basterds not winning Best Picture is the true travesty and I wish more words and columns were dedicated to that.

However, at the 2010 Oscars, the two front runners to win Best Picture were Avatar and The Hurt Locker. I knew Inglourious Basterds was going to lose but I was not sure if Avatar would. I wanted anything but Avatar to win.

I always make a distinction in pop culture of good vs. entertaining. Rihanna is entertaining, but she most certainly is not good (in fact she is atrocious). Amour is good but it most certainly is not entertaining. The best things in pop culture will find a way to be both good AND entertaining. Avatar is not an example of that. Avatar is the Rihanna of movies.

The reason Avatar made so much money was not because it was a good film (versus the reason The Dark Knight made so much money), but because it was a spectacle you just had to see in theaters. It was extremely entertaining. Between rising ticket prices and the cost to see a 3-D flick, of course Avatar was going to make a boat load of money. However, the story, the script, and the acting of Avatar were subpar at best. That means that Avatar is not a good movie.

The Hurt Locker on the other hand is a very good movie. I need to see it again because I viewed it with the lens of  "This had better be a better film that Basterds" which is the wrong viewpoint to take. However, even I recognized that it was a better film that Avatar. Most films are.

However, for the mere fact that The Hurt Locker, a summer film not many people saw, still managed to gain momentum and win Best Picture over the craptastic Avatar is a win in my book.

Which Best Picture winner do you think gets unnecessarily hassled?


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