Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Best Picture snubs

I'll try not to make this about the Oscars for every day until Sunday, but it's gonna be hard.

This morning I got to thinking about those movies that got nominated for Best Picture but just didn't make the cut. Even if that year had a worthy winner, these are decisions that, had I produced these movies, would have just left me with a definite "wtf?" look on my face right in front of the cameras. Here goes:

1. 1939: "The Wizard of Oz"
Can you really call it a "snub" when you lose to "Gone With the Wind"? In my mind, yes. "The Wizard of Oz" broke new ground in so many ways, and was just the definition of a timeless tale well told. "GWTW," on the other hand, was a timeless tale sorely in need of a good film editor.

2. 1962: "To Kill a Mockingbird"
Certainly another worthy winner this year in "Lawrence of Arabia," but I definitely would have voted for Harper Lee's story. For me, it's the single best book-to-screen adaptation ever, and one movie that should be required viewing for all children.

3. 1964: "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb"
Before seeing "Thank You for Smoking" I was sure that smart political satire was a dead art. It's definitely on life support, but it was never delivered better than by Stanley Kubrick with "Dr. Strangelove" (OK, well maybe once better with "Duck Soup.") The winner this year was "My Fair Lady."

4. 1967: "The Graduate"
This may have been the most egregious example of the Academy's bias against smart comedies. Buck Henry's script for this gem is one of the most quotable of all time. What beat it? "In the Heat of the Night."

5. 1970: "M*A*S*H"
You'll definitely start to see a trend starting here as to who my favorite directors are. There were almost none better than Robert Altman, and though it has its detractors, I find something new to laugh about each time I watch this one. It was beat down by "Patton." I think voters were simply afraid of George C. Scott.

6. 1975: "Nashville"
Just a perfect example of why Robert Altman was way ahead of his time. Had he made this ensemble comedy/drama today, he surely would find favor with Academy voters who fall for the art of interlocking stories. Although this is easily one of my favorite movies, it was hard to put it on the snub list, considering that "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" was certainly a worthy winner.

7. 1979: "Apocalypse Now"
If I were Francis Ford Coppola at the precise moment he lost out to "Kramer Vs. Kramer," I would have stormed the stage and simply taken the award by force. How do these two movies even end up in the same category? Possibly the greatest anti-war epic of all time vs. mawkish fare fit for a Lifetime channel movie? Simply absurd.

8. 1980: "Raging Bull"
Like Robert Altman, Martin Scorsese will make back-to-back appearances on this list. I really have no problem with winner "Ordinary People." I understand some people find it to be compelling drama, but "Raging Bull" features Robert De Niro's best work ever, and it's just the definition of a great biopic.

9. 1990: "Goodfellas"
If you ever think people are exaggerating about Scorsese being the most snubbed director of all time, just look back to 1990. It's only fitting that he might finally win this year with "The Departed," his first movie to even come close to the style of this great gangster epic. Can you imagine the look on his face when he lost out to "Forrest Gump"? My feelings on that movie could fill a multipage rant, but that's a whole different subject ...

10. 1994: "Pulp Fiction"
I just watched this one again the other day, and it has lost none of its appeal. In all honesty, I probably can't rightly call this a snub because I never bothered to see this year's winner, "Dances with Wolves." I can just think of so many things I'd rather do than watch Kevin Costner tell me to be nice to American Indians. For starters, I'd much rather watch "Pulp Fiction" again.

And there you have it. I'm sure there are many others. In this list, favorites "Hope and Glory" and "The Last Picture Show" just barely missed making the cut. Please feel free to let me know about any others I left out.


Mercurie said...

I think by far the biggest snubs on this list were Apocalypse Now and Goodfellas. I can see arguments being made why Gone With the Wind deserved the award more than The Wizard of Oz or My Fair Lady winning over Dr. Strangelove (although ultimately I prefer Wizard... and ...Strangelove.... But Apocalypse Now and Goodfellas losing to Kramer Vs. Kramer and Forrest Gump was just unforgivable.

Other snubs I can think of were Citizen Kane losing to How Green Was My Valley, Singin' in the Rain losing to The Greatest Show on Earth, and It's a Wonderful Life losing to Gentleman's Agreement.

Reel Fanatic said...

I could go with all three of those, Mercurie, especially Citizen Kane .. With Wizard of Oz, it was just so much more magical than anything that had come before it that there was just no way it should have lost, in my opinion

Jonathan said...

How about "Network" and "All the President's Men" over "Rocky." Or "A Clockwork Orange" and "Last Picture Show" instead of "French Connection" in 71. I'll also take Bergman's "Cries and Whispers" over "The Sting," as much as I love Redford and Newman in that film, I've always felt it drags a bit in the middle.

Also, "Goodfellas" lost to "Dances With Wolves" in 1990, and "Pulp Fiction" lost to Forrest Gump" in 1994. I think you got your wires crossed. Nice Post.

Ryan Gilchrest said...

As long as 3-6 Mafia, Eminem and Cuba Gooding Jr. have one more gold man than Marty Scorsese, I'll have a hard time accepting the Academy as the clearinghouse for what is and is not great.

Several of your snubs are on my top 10 of all time list.

Divinity said...

The Academy's picks have always seemed more political than meritous to me. I tune in for the outrage and silliness really.

Reel Fanatic said...

Ah ... I often get a little dyslexic with these things Jonathan .. thanks for the correction ... I wouldn't take Rocky off the Best Picture list, but that's just a personal preference, because Network and All the President's Men are indeed both fantastic films

Jonathan said...

It was definately nothing against "Rocky." 76 was a great year for cinema; year I was born to, and maybe that's why I'm such a geek.

Red7Eric said...

I'm so with you in regards to Pulp Fiction ... no matter what it lost to, it deserved to win; it's the best film of the '90s.

I do remember that it picked up the Best Original Screenplay award, which I feel often goes to the film that should have taken home the Best Picture statuette.

MC Hamme said...

I agree with you all the way on To Kill a Mockingbird. As to Pulp Fiction, I'm still undecided if it should have been that or Forrest Gump. Though I do think Quentin should have won Best Director that year over Robert Zemeckis.

Damian said...

Great post, RF. It's interesting to be reminded of how many worthy films just weren't properly appreciated at the Oscars. I especially agree with To Kill a Mockingbird, Dr. Strangelove, Apocalypse Now, Raging Bull and Goodfellas

Personally, I never really jumped on the "Pulp Fiction badwagon." I liked the film (and still do), but I never thought it was the Best Picture of 1994 and certainly not the best picture of the '90's. Neither, however, was I super-thrilled with Forrest Gump winning that year. I felt then (as I do now) the same way William Goldman felt... that the best film of '94 was The Shawshank Redemption.

Another movie that I thought was "robbed" of the Best Picture statuette was Saving Private Ryan.

Reel Fanatic said...

Saving Private Ryan is one that almost made my list, Damian .. it's only my love for Tom Stoppard that stopped me from adding it to this list ... Every time I watch Shakespeare in Love, and it's close to double digits now, I like it more each time

MC said...

I think the Patton win in 1970 and your words about it are somewhat ironic given Scott's refusal to accept the best actor award because "The whole thing is a goddam meat parade. I don't want any part of it."

* (asterisk) said...

I've never seen Forrest Gump and intend never to watch it (just like The Departed), but Pulp Fiction should have beat it hands down, of that I'm sure.

To be fair, though, altho' Goodfellas is a class act, I actually thought Dances With Wolves was very good.

There's no excuse for Ordinary People beating Raging Bull, though, or for Kramer vs. Kramer winning anything ever.

And you're spot on about the editor needed for GWTW!

By the way, I did a similar post at the end of January. Check it out here, and see what injustices my readers came up with too.

Nell Minow said...

I'd have picked "The Right Stuff" over "Terms of Endearment." My least-deserving BP awardees include: "Forrest Gump," "Titanic," "Dances with Wolves," and "English Patient."

I was happy that "Crash" won last year, though.

I always think of the Academy as a high school and the Oscars as the popularity contest. I don't think of them as definitive on quality or art.

Caio said...

"I'd have picked "The Right Stuff" over "Terms of Endearment." My least-deserving BP awardees include: "Forrest Gump," "Titanic," "Dances with Wolves," and "English Patient.""

Damn straight. I liked Gump, actually, but I wouldn't call it the greatest classic ever. The English Patient and Tearms were especially bad. I fell asleep once during English patient, and ended up cleaning the apartment the second time I saw it.

As for Reel's, I'd say you're on the ball for most of those, except Kramer vs. Kramer... That's a tough choice really. I really liked Kramer. They tie in my book. Network and Rocky are also a pretty tough choice.

Here's mine: How the hell did Shakespeare in Love win? I'm not going to say it was horrible, but it wasn't anything special. Compare that to Life Is Beautiful (my choice), Thin Red Line, Elizabeth, and Saving Private Ryan. Every single one of those are amazing films. They're leagues above SIL. Seriously, what the hell?

Chalupa said...

Caio - I'm a HUGE fan of Thin Red Line too. The reason it didn't win awards though is because it came out after Saving Private Ryan and it didn't follow in its footsteps. The masses want a war movie full of guns and guts. Who wants to sit through 2+ hrs of people talking about their feelings, why are we actually fighting? how are we affecting other people around the world? how is this affecting people back home?

Oh wait, this is starting to sound like questions people are asking now.

Reel Fanatic said...

I'm glad this has provoked a lively discussion ... I still stand by my appreciation of Shakespeare in Love, but you are all right that Saving Private Ryan should have been the winner that year.

Damian said...

I love Tom Stoppard too, RF. In fact, I loved Shakespeare in Love. I still love it. I'm just not sure it deserved Best Picture over Saving Private Ryan (or perhaps even The Thin Red Line). In truth, that was one of the few years when I actually saw all 5 of the best picture nominees and thought they were all great (an opinion I don't always hold). They were all just so different.

It's nice to know, nell, that I'm not the only one who was pleased with Crash's win last year, because it sure feels like it sometimes.

Probably my least favorite film to win Best Picture is not Gump or Titanic or Dances With Wolves (I like all of those movies) but The English Patient, which I cannot stand and still have trouble believing it won over Fargo.

Reel Fanatic said...

I'm definitely with you there, Damian ... I thought the English Patient had some charms, but Fargo was just a singular accomplishment in filmmaking ... and I'd say 2006 is another year where, although I would have picked some different titles, all five finalists are worthy of being there