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Monday, February 18, 2013

Three Biggest Best Picture Oscar Upsets In The Past 25 Years

This post was written by guest contributor Gerald Connor

With the Oscars approaching, we are just waiting for ‘Argo’ to get upset for Best Picture. Ben Affleck, once a Hollywood punch-line, has made an incredible comeback with his directorial skills (The Town, Gone Baby Gone) but has already been snubbed from a Best Director nomination by the Academy. Is Argo pretentious enough to win Best Picture?  Here is a look at three of the worst Best Picture decisions made by the Academy.

1990: ‘Dances with Wolves’ over ‘Goodfellas’

            Few movies can be watched over thirty times and still be fantastic each time. Goodfellas is one of those movies. The only movie ever made that can legitimately partake in a “which is better” debate with The Godfather. In 1990, the Academy opted to choose a vanity project written by, directed by, and starring Kevin Costner called Dances with Wolves—a long, boring, melodramatic, pretentious, and forgettable epic—as the Best Picture.

2010: ‘The King’s Speech’ over ‘The Social Network’ or ‘Black Swan’

            This is classic Oscar pretentiousness. The boring British-based movie wins over the bold and entertaining movie (Remember Shakespeare in Love over Saving Private Ryan in 1998?). The King’s Speech features a King born into enormous wealth, power and royalty who has a fear of public speaking. I can think of more compelling tales than royals with stage fright. Two examples are The Social Network and Black Swan.

1996: ‘The English Patient’ over ‘Fargo’

            Seinfeld dedicated an entire episode to bashing this one (Elaine is forced to see it by her boss, Mr. Peterman). This Best Picture suffers from the “emperor’s new clothes” syndrome. Viewers fear giving negative reviews because they will be labeled ‘idiots’ for not understanding the film’s ‘message.’ Fargo’s dialogue alone, listened to on a tape recorder, is more entertaining than this very long and boring Best Picture. Oh you betcha.

NOTE:  Most movie buffs say 2005’s Crash over Brokeback Mountain is the biggest upset. I disagree. I give the Academy credit for picking Crash. It was released early in the year (April) and was under two hours- a rarity for the Best Picture. Brokeback was over two hours long and released the last week of December. Brokeback was at the peak of its hype by the time the Oscars rolled around and just ‘seemed’ like an upset because Crash had been forgotten about. Furthermore, 2005 was a weak year for movies anyway and Brokeback Mountain, even if it is better than Crash, is not comparable to Goodfellas, The Social Network, Black Swan, or Fargo.


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