Oscar madness is upon us having us all as we root for our favorite movies to win the coveted Oscar. Although honestly, since we are Geeks and the movies we love tend to be snubbed at the Oscars, some of us are just reminded of how disappointing Hollywood is. And the Oscars are incredibly problematic. They are kind of what Hollywood desperately wishes it WAS. The Academy Awards highlight the cream of the crop while ignoring the fact that most of the films that Hollywood produces deserve a Razzie rather than an Oscar. But for at least one night a year, we can pretend that good and original films are still made and appreciated. And they might win. Unless they are horror. Or science fiction. Or edgy. Or directed by Quentin Tarantino. And of course this doesn’t even take into account the politics behind Oscar nominations and victories.
Are the Oscars relevant? We will examine the category of Best Picture. One would assume that Best Picture represents the best film of the year. A film destined to be a classic. That one film that was put out that will be remembered for ages. After all, this is the Academy choosing the awards. They totally have an official sounding name and they’re supposed to be film experts. That’s why we plebians don’t choose The Best Picture. We would do something crazy like pick The Avengers (2012).
But wait. There have been some really huge snubs in the history of the Oscars. Especially when it comes to the coveted Best Picture award. We know that some genres are historically ignored. Although they do sometimes surprise us (The Silence of the Lambs, Midnight Cowboy) most of the time The Academy picks “safe” films. Which is why Django Unchained (see our review HERE) will probably not be walking away with Best Picture. Here are some films that were never going to win Best Picture (despite being nominated).
10. Star Wars (1977)
Every geek sheds a tear knowing that Star Wars didn’t win Best Picture. But let’s be real for a second and consider something. Star Wars was an absolutely incredible film for its special effects. It is also a classic hero’s journey with a wonderful good versus evil plot. But, it’s science fiction. Now clearly there is no rule saying that science fiction films can’t win Best Picture. But the truth is, a pure science fiction film has never won for Best Picture. Sorry geeks.
9. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb (1964)
The Academy doesn’t tend to reward edgy films with Best Picture. We aren’t sure if they like to play safe because of the politics of Hollywood or if they are really just that out of touch with what makes a film incredible. And Stanley Kubrick was snubbed on multiple occasions because his films are edgy. Dr. Strangelove in particular deals with nuclear war at the height of the Cold War. And mocks it. And mocks us. And which film did Dr. Strangelove lose to? My Fair Lady (1964). If this isn’t just the perfect example of The Academy picking a safe film over a good film, we don’t know what is!
8.Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966)
For those who have seen Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, you know exactly why it didn’t win Best Picture. For the rest of you (really, go see it) we will let you in on a little secret. Have you ever been to a party and a couple awkwardly starts fighting? And soon you feel like you are watching their entire relationship dissolve? That’s what Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf is. We get to watch a marriage dissolve over the course of the film. It’s upsetting, uncomfortable and downright unsettling. And it goes on and on and on. By the end of this dark voyeurism we are left unsettled. And that’s exactly why A Man for All Seasons (1966) won Best Picture that year.
7. Brokeback Mountain (2005)
We would like to think that Brokeback Mountain could have won Best Picture. We would like to think that the fact that Brokeback Mountain tackles a very dark time in LGBT history would have nothing to do with it being snubbed. In fact, we hear that Hollywood loves the Gays. Maybe there was just a plethora of more touching, beautiful, deep and thought provoking films out there. That must be it. And who won Best Picture in 2005? Crash (2005)…. Now the author of this article has never seen the film Crash (2005) and cannot therefore speak to that film’s merits. He heard it had something to vaguely do with race (but without being too edgy, wouldn’t want Spike Lee to win or something). But wait! Capote (2005) lost too? Hollywood…Y U NO LIKE THE GAYS?
6. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
There is absolutely no way in hell Bonnie and Clyde was going to win Best Picture. Of course Bonnie and Clyde is an amazing movie. It is was one of the most violent films ever made up to that point. This was 1967 and they still had innocent eyes back then. Bonnie and Clyde is still considered pretty violent (outside of the horror genre). So glorifying murderers and showing sex and violence was just not going to win them a Best Picture award. The story of Bonnie and Clyde is almost eighty years old but when this film was made, it was maybe 30-40 years old, still very fresh in everyone’s mind.
5. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
If you thought Bonnie and Clyde (1967) was too violent and sexual to win Best Picture, A Clockwork Orange (1971) had a snowball’s chance in hell of winning. A Clockwork Orange has it all; rape, torture and murder and is directed by Stanley Kubrick, who was again, denied Best Picture. He would go on to be denied Best Picture again for a very tame Barry Lyndon (1975) which makes us think this may have been a political snub. We can’t say for sure, but it does certainly seem any director who has a knack for making edgy and thought provoking films is destined to be snubbed by The Academy.
4. Pulp Fiction (1994)
Speaking of frequent snubbing, Pulp Fiction…what can we say? Pulp Fiction helped define an entire generation. It is an iconic cult classic. It helped to make Quentin Tarantino a superstar. And Pulp Fiction also manages to say the f-word an impressive 265 times. And the n-word also makes a notable appearance. Of course, then there is the drug usage, a gimp, rape, murder, a man having his head blown off, etc. We’re not saying The Academy is made up of a bunch of snobs. But what we ARE saying is that our plebian tastes may vary from what The Academy considers worthy of Best Picture. And the fact that Pulp Fiction lost to Forrest Gump (1994) makes us giggle. But, Pulp Fiction’s loss is in good company (aka how the hell did The Shawkshank Redemption lose?).
3. The Crying Game (1992)
The Crying Game was a movie far ahead of its time. It isn’t any more violent than your average action film. It isn’t terribly sympathetic to terrorists (though that would have made it interesting). The issue here was likely the content. Showing transgender women (including full frontal nudity) in a sympathetic light just wasn’t done. The only portrayals on film of anything like transgender women were films like The Silence of the Lambs (which won Best Picture, now that we think of it). So here comes this kinda slow film about the IRA when BAM: it deals with gender. The Crying Game is a film that might even be too edgy to win Best Picture in 2013.
2. Taxi Driver (1976)
Speaking of edgy, Taxi Driver. Need we say anything more? It’s violent. It deals with the dark underbelly of society, including child prostitution. And it made Robert De Niro. Taxi Driver is a film that is so amazing it stays with you long after you walk away. Taxi Driver’s portrayal of the antihero is one of the best in cinema. The movie lost to Rocky (1976) and that is considered by some to be one of the biggest snubs in film history. But really, it was never going to win. Have you SEEN this movie? Its very inner core is dark. Not exactly the kind of film that wins Best Picture.
1. The Exorcist (1973)
The Exorcist…wow. For anyone who wonders why this one didn’t win we have one word: horror. The Exorcist is a horror film. And not just any horror film. The Exorcist is a horror film that depicts unspeakable things involving little girls and crucifixes. The Academy considers the horror genre to be about as respectable as pornography. That is just the honest truth. We doubt a horror film will ever win Best Picture. The Silence of the Lambs only won because it resembles a thriller. The Exorcist could never have won because of its very nature. In order to be scary and disturbing you must take people outside of their comfort zones. And that isn’t what The Academy likes. Which is why films like Forrest Gump (1994) will always win.