By MICHAEL WALTERS
As we argue over Oscar’s choices for 2010, it’s helpful to remember that Oscar may be the biggest voice around but he’s not always right. So let’s take a look at some of Oscar’s more questionable judgements and biggest outrages over the past 30 years that have me saying, “Oscar, WTF?!?!”
#15 Tommy Lee Jones Beats Ralph Fiennes For Best Supporting Actor (1993)
Who Won: Tommy Lee Jones (The Fugitive)
Who Should’ve Won: Ralph Fiennes (Schindler’s List)
Yes Jones is a talented actor, and yes he gives an entertaining performance in the Chicago classic “The Fugitive,” but he’s simply not in the same class with Fiennes haunting, complex and still chilling portrayal of Nazi Amon Goeth in “Schindler’s List.”
#14 Sandra Bullock Wins Best Actress (2009)
Who Won: Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side)
Who Should’ve Won: Anyone Else
Before the Oscar hype machine went into overdrive, the phrase “Oscar Winner” Sandra Bullock seemed incredulous. Now one year removed from the deafening buzz it still seems incredulous. Just about anyone else, from Meryl Streep to Carey Mulligan would have been a better choice to win than Bullock’s shrill, bossy, southern mama in “The Blind Side.”
#13 Penelope Cruz Wins Best Supporting Actress (2008)
Who Won: Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona)
Who Should’ve Won: Viola Davis (Doubt)
Quite simply Penelope Cruz should not win anything for any part that requires her to speak English. She spoke a lot of Spanish in Woody Allen’s “Vicky Christina Barcelona” but not nearly enough to warrant an Academy Award. I picked Viola Davis, but really any one of the other nominees would have been a better choice than Cruz butchering the English language.
#12 Russell Crowe Beats Ed Harris For Best Actor (2000)
Who Won: Russell Crowe (Gladiator)
Who Should’ve Won: Ed Harris (Pollock)
Another case of a talented actor winning for the wrong role. Even Crowe himself has taken issue with this cliched sword and sandal flick. Meanwhile Harris somehow made watching a guy paint an electrifying experience.
#11 Academy Snubs Denzel Washington (1999)
Who Won: Kevin Spacey (American Beauty)
Who Should’ve Won: Denzel Washington (The Hurricane)
While “The Hurricane” still has its problems, Washington’s riveting performance isn’t one of them. And it’s aged a lot better than Kevin Spacey’s turn in “American Beauty.”
#10 “Shakespeare in Love” Wins Best Picture (1998)
Who Won: “Shakespeare In Love”
Who Should’ve Won: “Saving Private Ryan”
A triumph of marketing over movie-making. Oscar somehow chose this forgettable trifle over the moving classic “Saving Private Ryan.”
#9 Paul Newman Loses Best Actor (1982)
Who Won: Ben Kingsley (Gandhi)
Who Should’ve Won: Paul Newman (The Verdict)
No offense to Sir Ben, but Paul Newman gave arguably the greatest performance of his career in “The Verdict” as an alcoholic lawyer getting one last shot. This egregious oversight set up a giveback four years later where Newman won for a performance with only a dash of this one’s skill and bravado.
#8 Al Pacino Wins for Wrong Performance (1992)
Who Won: Al Pacino (Scent Of A Woman)
Who Should’ve Won: Al Pacino (Glengarry Glen Ross)
By 1992 it was high time for the academy to honor Al Pacino, I just wish it hadn’t been for “Scent of a Woman” the performance that unleashed the “Whoo-Ah!” scenery-chewing Pacino we know almost exclusively today.
#7 “Titanic” Wins Best Picture (1997)
Who Won: “Titanic”
Who Should’ve Won: “L.A. Confidential”
“Titanic” didn’t even need the iceberg to sink it. James Cameron’s script did that all by itself.
#6 Sean Penn Beats Bill Murray for Best Actor (2003)
Who Won: Sean Penn (Mystic River)
Who Should’ve Won: Bill Murray (Lost In Translation)
Sean Penn is a talented actor, but he indulged his worst histrionic tendencies with this raging at the sky class in overacting in “Mystic River.” Bill Murray says more in a single sigh in “Lost In Translation” than Penn did in that entire movie.
#5 Scorsese Loses Best Director Oscar (1980)
Who Won: Robert Redford (Ordinary People)
Who Should’ve Won: Martin Scorsese (Raging Bull)
One of Oscar’s All Time egregious oversights. “Ordinary People” remains just that- ordinary. “Raging Bull” is one for the ages.
#4 “Crash” Beats “Brokeback Mountain” For Best Picture (2005)
Who Won: “Crash”
Who Should’ve Won: “Brokeback Mountain”
Arguably the worst movie ever to win the Best Picture Oscar.
#3 Halle Berry Wins Best Actress (2001)
Who Won: Halle Berry (Monster’s Ball)
Who Should’ve Won: Nicole Kidman (Moulin Rouge)
How does Halle Berry follow up her Oscar Winning turn in the now forgotten “Monster’s Ball?” By starring in “Catwoman” and snagging a Razzie in the process. ‘Nuff said.
#2 “Forrest Gump” Wins Best Picture. (1994)
Who Won: “Forrest Gump”
Who Should’ve Won: “Pulp Fiction”
This decision still boggles the mind.
For decades, generations of film buffs will still look at this year and say in disbelief, “The Academy chose ‘Forrest Gump’ as Best Picture over ‘Pulp Fiction’ and ‘Shawshank Redemption?’ Oscar, WTF???”
#1 “Dances With Wolves” Wins Best Picture, Kevin Costner Wins Best Director (1990)
Who Won: Kevin Costner & “Dances With Wolves”
Who Should’ve Won: Martin Scorsese & “Goodfellas”
Today “Dances With Wolves” remains a dated artifact, while “Goodfellas” is one of the all-time greats. It’s aged like a fine wine, and you can easily watch “Goodfellas” over and over again. Just try getting through “Dances With Wolves” even once.