Biggest Mistakes In Oscars History

Hindsight being 20/20, the annual game of “who’s going to get stiffed at the Academy Awards this year” usually comes with a couple of great examples to talk about over the virtual water cooler. But there have been some instances where the winner not only doesn’t stand up to the test of time, the winner didn’t even stand up to its contemporary competition. Here are the biggest mistakes the Oscars have made over the years.

‘The Greatest Show On Earth’ wins Best Picture

In 1952, at the height of anti-Communist fever, the Academy decided not only to finally give Cecil B. DeMille an Oscar for a mediocre movie about the circus, “The Greatest Show On Earth,” it did so at the expense of the superior “High Noon,” which had been scripted by the blacklisted screenwriter Carl Foreman.

‘Citizen Kane’ loses Best Picture

In 1941, the big winner was a perfectly serviceable movie, “How Green Was My Valley,” about a family of Welsh miners. It is now best known as the answer to the trivia question, “What movie beat ‘Citizen Kane’ for Best Picture Oscar?”

‘Shakespeare in Love’ beats ‘Saving Private Ryan’

Based on its opening sequence alone, “Saving Private Ryan” should have won Best Picture in 1998. But because Oscars are campaigned as heavily as politics, and because Harvey Weinstein had a horse in the race with Miramax’s “Shakespeare In Love,” the WWII epic was left behind at the ceremony.

Judy Garland loses for ‘A Star Is Born’

In 1954, Judy Garland wasn’t just the Best Actress favorite for her comeback role in “A Star Is Born,” she was practically anointed, even having cameras set up in her hospital room so she could accept the award remotely. Imagine the shock when the award went to Grace Kelly for “The Country Girl”. Which is also a mistake; she should have won it for her role in “Dial M For Murder” instead.

‘Precious’ not precious enough to Oscar voters

In 2010, Sandra Bullock won Best Actress for her problematic white savior figure in “The Blind Side” while Gabourey Sidibe’s iconic role in “Precious” lost out. Because Karma watches the Oscars, Bullock later lost the award for a role that was genuinely Oscar worthy, in the 2014 movie “Gravity.”

‘Purple Rain’ snubbed for ‘Best Song’

Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You” from “The Woman In Red” beat out songs from “Footloose, the “Ghostbusters” theme, and Phil Collins’ “Against All Odds” – but what hurts is the one that had not even been nominated: the title song from “Purple Rain” – though the movie took Oscars for “Best Original Musical” and “Best Original Score.”

Tom Hanks wins for ‘Forrest Gump’

Tom Hanks had already won in 1993 for “Philadelphia,” but “Forrest Gump” got him nominated again in 1994, this time against equally huge talent like Morgan Freeman, John Travolta, and Paul Neuman. Oscar voting tends to want to award the thing to the one most “deserving” more for body of work than for the specific movies – but in a perfect storm of a seriously glutted field, the vote was split amongst them and Hanks came out on top.

The Academy does not ‘Do The Right Thing’

In 1990, a critically-acclaimed movie powerfully explored race relations in America and won the Oscar for Best Picture. Except it was not Spike Lee’s “Do The Right Thing,” which wasn’t even nominated — it was “Driving Miss Daisy.” Lee apparently hasn’t gotten over the snub, making a pointed comment to press after his 2018 film “BlackkKlansman” lost Best Picture to “Green Book” (about the true story of renowned black pianist Don Shirley and his driver Tony Vallelonga) that every time someone’s driving someone, he loses. He conceded that at least this time he was nominated.

‘The Color Purple’ wins nothing

What the heck, Academy. In 1986, “The Color Purple” was nominated for 11 awards — for the script, the actresses, the score, everything except for director Steven Spielberg — and was still completely shut out.