The 90th Academy Awards ceremony will be held on Sunday, and moviegoers all over the globe are crossing their fingers, hoping that the Academy gets it right this year—or at least not screwing it up. As film buffs know, the institution doesn’t have the brightest track record when it comes to recognizing the greatest work.
We at August Man Malaysia take a stroll back to revisit some of the biggest snubs throughout the years, where the disconnect between quality and actual recognition is so unbelievable that moviegoers start tearing up the second the award is announced.
Al Pacino for Best Supporting Actor, The Godfather
Relatively unknown at the time, Al Pacino played Michael Corleone in The Godfather, the youngest son of mafia leader Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando). Receiving universal critical acclaim for his role, Pacino famously boycotted the 45th Academy Awards because he felt humiliated that he was nominated in the Best Supporting Actor category, instead of Best Actor (despite the fact that he had more screen time than Brando). Pacino ended up losing to Joel Grey in Cabaret. But when Pacino finally receive a nomination for Best Actor in 1974 for his stellar performance in The Godfather Part II, he lost to Art Carney in Harry and Tonto. The fact that Al Pacino as Michael Corleone, the main character in one of the most culturally significant sagas of all time, went unrecognized is utterly ridiculous.
Kate Winslet for Best Actress, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Kate Winslet’s performance as Clementine, the delightfully quirky manic pixie dream girl, is an absolute wonder to watch, and perhaps the finest performance the actress has ever delivered in her illustrious career. Winslet was nominated for her fourth Oscar for Eternal Sunshine, but lost the Best Actress Oscar to Hilary Swank, who won her second Best Actress trophy for her turn as a burly boxer in Million Dollar Baby. She was eventually awarded with the Best Actress Oscar in 2009 for her turn as a Nazi guard in the heavy-handed historical drama The Reader. The Academy, in true Oscar fashion, awards actors on their third, fourth, fifth, or in this case, sixth, all-around less stellar performances.
Samuel L. Jackson for Best Actor, Pulp Fiction
The 1995 Academy Awards Ceremony was a disaster in many ways, but one of the biggest tragedy was Samuel L. Jackson’s larger-than-life performance as Jheri-curled, bible citing hit-man Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction losing to Martin Landau’s turn as aging actor Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood. It was an infamous “career Oscar” for Landau who was already on his third nomination. Jackson’s Jules, however, is now remembered as one of the greatest characters that has ever graced the silver screen and further solidified his status as one of the finest actors in the industry.
Stanley Kubrick for Best Director
Known for being a perfectionist, Stanley Kubrick is often cited as one of the greatest filmmakers ever. Kubrick, however, has never won a Best Director Oscar. The late genius wasn’t even nominated for The Shining, Lolita, and Full Metal Jacket, and unfairly lost the Oscar for helming Dr. Strangelove, the greatest comedy film of all time, to George Cukor for My Fair Lady. Strangelove also lost Best Picture that year to My Fair Lady, while his game-changing sci-fi masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey didn’t even receive a Best Picture nomination. The fact that the late legend still hasn’t received so much as an honorary Oscar is completely baffling and unbelievable.
Saving Private Ryan for Best Picture
Often regarded as the one of the greatest Oscars upsets. You had Steven Spielberg, which following the monumental success of films such as E.T. and Jurassic Park, was regarded then as the most successful director of all time. In 1994, the critically acclaimed Schindler’s List earned him Best Picture and Best Director. Saving Private Ryan, another World War II epic that has gathered immense cri, seemed like a no-brainer to nab him another Best Picture under his belt.
The award ultimately went to Shakespeare in Love, a period romantic comedy with a literate, playful Tom Stoppard script and extravagant production values. Oscar tends to advocate war epics over romantic comedies, but this one had the notorious Miramax chief Harvey Weinstein backing it. While Spielberg did take home a Best Director Oscar, the moviegoing world was startled when Shakespeare took Best Picture.