We've all got regrets. I once hit a man in Dearborn, Michigan. A hit and run. I hit him and just kept on going. I don't know if he's alive or dead. Not a day goes by I don't see his face. But unlike my minor indiscretion The Oscars errors are heavily documented, therefore affording us the chance to pore over each mistake year after year. Silly Oscars. Here's ten of the main offenders.
Considering the perception of the Academy - and Hollywood in general - as a bunch of “gay loving, tree hugging, lefty, commie bastards” it was peculiar that Zemeckis' love letter to Conservatism triumphed so spectacularly in 1995. That Gump's success was at the cost of Tarantino's masterpiece has made it the quintessential example of all that's wrong at the Oscars. Magic motherfucking legs indeed.
Picking the host for the Academy Awards often gets as much negative attention as picking the winners. While last year's misfire of 'Frantic Hathaway' and 'Franco just...away' had critics clambering to name them worst Oscar hosts ever they still delivered more laughs than Ellen's “folksy schtick”. 1995 host David Letterman also gets a bum rap, but apart from the overuse of an “Uma, Oprah” gag the late night host attacked the event with a suitably bubble bursting attitude. His best line came when introducing Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins with the immortal “Pay attention, they're bound to be pissed off about something”...
The “Greatest Film Of All Time” versus some guff about a Welsh mining town. OK, confession time, like many others that cite Kane vs. Valley, I haven't seen the latter. This will be rectified in the near future and IF - and it's a bloody big IF - John Ford's ode to singers and miners eclipses Orson Welles' début in terms of scope, ideas and accomplishments I'll visit the real Cerrig Ceinnen and make cheese on toast for all it's inhabitants.
The Academy has a curious relationship with arguably this generation's greatest filmmaker and while the IMDb Top 250 isn't the absolute certification of a classic film, it is a pretty good starting point. Voted for by film fans over the course of forever, the placing of Fight Club at #12 and Seven at #26 contradict the Academy honouring. Their collective haul on Oscar night? Two nominations. No wins. The lesser (but still accomplished) Benjamin Button? Thirteen nominations. Three wins. And Zodiac got nothing. Nada. Zip. Bupkis. Zilch.
Peter O'Toole's eight nominations without a win may sound like a simultaneous pat on the back and kick in the bollocks but spare a thought for sound mixer Kevin O'Connell. On twenty separate occasions Kev has ironed his shirt, donned his tuxedo and rehearsed his life affirming moment in the mirror only to be shot down very single time. Luckily for Kevin he's recorded the sound of his heart breaking and will use the effect for the latest Transformers.
A slight case of damned if you do, damned if you don't for the Academy on this one. If Sean had never won an Oscar you'd be reading a sentence or two lamenting his snubbing. As it is Penn has two golden baldies on his shelf. But these two baldies came at the expense of potentially two of the greatest Oscar moments ever. If Bill or Mickey had won in 2004 and 2009 their speeches would be front and centre of every clip show this weekend, reminding us of Oscars ability to do the right thing. Sadly we have to look to the Globes instead...
Oscar loves handing out Lifetime Achievement awards. The trouble is they do it under the banner of 'Best Actor/Actress/Director' and link it to specific films. Usually bad films. So while Pacino lost out for The Godfather I and II, Serpico and Dog Day Afternoon he took home the prize for the wide-eyed, catchphrase of a film, Scent Of A Woman, beating Denzel's ability to present the full journey of Malcolm X, from low-level street criminal to articulate and charismatic leader. To repeat history, Washington was also given his own 'Best Actor Lifetime Achievement' for Training Day, and a performance less worthy than both his previous nominations Malcolm X and The Hurricane.
Fucking Phil Collins. If it wasn't for Phil and his saccharine warbling balls of a Tarzan song, 'You'll Be In My Heart', Trey Parker would be the most unlikely, yet thoroughly worthy, member of the EGOT club - Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony winners - alongside such luminaries as John Gielgud and Audrey Hepburn. Still, at least Patrick Bateman would be pacified for the night with the artist's win; “I stress the word, artist.”
A recent, incredibly thorough investigation unearthed the astonishing fact that most of the Academy voters are old, white and male. Shock and horror. What the investigation didn't unearth is that they share the worst kind of middle-class white guilt, honouring films that say absolutely zip about racial tensions or worse still, “All black people need a white saviour!”. See The Help, Glory, The Blind Side, etc. etc. If you're not betting on The Artist this weekend, at 20/1 The Help isn't a bad second choice. Well it is. But you might win some cash to subdue your anger.
There's a misconception that Kubrick and Hitchcock never won Oscars. They did. Kubrick was a joint recipient of the Best Special Effects Oscar for 2001:A Space Odyssey and Hitchcock received the honorary Irving G. Thalberg award in 1967. But neither saw their specific work honoured. Specific work like Rear Window, Dr. Stranglove, Vertigo, A Clockwork Orange, To Catch A Thief, etc, etc. North by Northwest and Psycho didn't win a single gong. As for The Shining, not even nominated. Bah!