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Top 10 Shocking Oscars Injustices

Updated on October 7, 2014

10- Best Picture (2003)

Who won: Chicago.

Who deserved to won: The Pianist.

I cannot believe The Pianist lost out the award of Best Picture to Chicago – even now. I love a good musical more than anyone, but The Pianist was a superb drama that really hit you in the heart. It was also up against Gang’s of New York, which many people could argue also deserved the award. Is The Pianist as good as Schindler’s List? No. Is it better than Chicago? Most definitely.

9- Best Picture (2011)

Who won: The King's Speech.

Who deserved to win: The Social Network.

The King’s Speech is certainly a very good film, but too mannered and conventional to be a great one. Inception, an uncommonly intelligent blockbuster, or The Social Network (named film of the year by Roger Ebert, Rolling Stone, The Associated Press, The New York Times, The New Yorker, etc etc etc), which so pointedly commented on American life in the 21st century, were far better choices.

8- Best Picture (2009)

Who won: Slumdog Millionaire.

Who deserved to win: The Dark Knight.

Slumdog Millionaire is a supremely enjoyable story about a part of the world invisible to many Western audiences. But the fact that Christopher Nolan's darkly powerful The Dark Knight, featuring a magnetic performance from Heath Ledger, didn't even get a place at the table along with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk, The Reader and Slumdog Millionaire is an evil worthy of a comic-book villain.

7- Best Actor (1993)

Who won: Al Pacino (Scent of a Woman).

Who deserved to win: Denzel Washington (Malcolm X).

The Academy missed the boat on The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico, Scarface, and a handful of other films. Oops. So here’s an obligatory Oscar for your over the top performance in Scent of a Woman. But that’s not even the worst part. When Al Pacino won that Oscar, he beat out Denzel Washington in Malcolm X, in his career-defining and far more deserving performance. Which meant that the Academy, in turn, had to make it up to Denzel with an Oscar for Training Day. And so the vicious cycle continues.

6- Best Picture (2006)

Who won: Crash.

Who deserved to win: Brokeback Mountain.

Good intentions don't equal good filmmaking. That could be the tagline for Crash, a heavy-handed look at race relations in America. Compared with Ang Lee's more intimate and deeply felt forbidden-love story in Brokeback Mountain, it feels especially forced and shallow. In the end, Hollywood couldn't bring itself to vote for a movie about love between two cowboys.

5- Best Picture (1994)

Who won: Forrest Gump.

Who deserved to win: The Shawshank Redemption.

The critically-praised prison drama, starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins, was overlooked in favour of goofy Tom Hanks-fronting Forest Gump. The galling thing is that Pulp Fiction was also denied recognition the same year in the same category.

4- Best Picture (1998)

Who won: Shakespeare In Love.

Who deserved to win: Saving Private Ryan.

Saving Private Ryan scooped up a heap of awards, but criminally, not Best Picture. It lost to Shakespeare In Love, which is polished and likeable but basically a speck when set against the reinvention of battleground aesthetics laid out in Steven Spielberg's meaty epic.

3- Best Actor (2002)

Who won: Denzel Washington (Training Day)

Who deserved to win: Russell Crowe (A Beatiful Mind)

2002 was probably one of the years with the most competitive Best Actor category with names such as Will Smith, Sean Penn, Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington nominated. But despite that everyone knew that Russell Crowe would win for his epic portrayal of John Nash in A Beautiful Mind. At the end, Denzel Washington ended up winning for his turn in Training Day. Many regard Crowe’s feud with the Academy as the reason for his loss.

2- Best Picture (1991)

Who won: Dances With Wolves.

Who deserved to win: Goodfellas.

Dances with Wolves isn’t a bad film. It’s two quite good films, stitched together like Frankenstein’s monster into a vastly overlong chore that seems to go on for decades. Goodfellas isn’t a good film – it’s a great, great film, beautifully scripted, filmed and acted. Naturally, Kevin Costner’s never-ending story won the 1990 Best Picture prize, and Costner himself beat Scorsese out of yet another Best Director. At this stage, Scorsese must have wondered what he had to do to win; as it turned out, it was “keep working for another 16 years and make a quite-good remake of Infernal Affairs”.

1- Best actor (1999)

Who win: Roberto Benigni (Life Is Beautiful).

Who deserved to win: Edward Norton (American History X).

Much as we’d love to imagine Edward Norton bunny-hopping over the seats of dignitaries in a blizzard of arm-swinging zaniness, he had to slump back in his chair and watch Roberto Benigni do the honours when Helen Hunt read out the Best Actor winner back in 1999. Both boasted their share of Nazis – the ultimate Oscar catnip – but Life Is Beautiful won the hearts and minds of the Academy in a way that American History X, with its brute force and kerb-stamp intensity, couldn’t hope to emulate. Single-minded in a way that doesn’t always play well in Hollywood, Norton’s very public fallout and lawsuit with director Tony Kaye didn’t help his cause either. Still, his ferocious, seething skinhead Derek Vinyard should have put the gentle buffoonery of Guido Orefice onto the pavement.

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