–By Cecily Knobler–
As the Academy Awards approach this year, they are clouded by controversy due to what many are stating is a clear lack of diversity within the group of Academy voters. Personally, I was annoyed that Straight Outta Compton got shut out (aside from a Best Original Screenplay nod) when ridiculous popcorn blockbusters like Mad Max: Fury Road or totally pretentious snoozers like Carol got all kinds of buzz.
This got me thinking about all the films or actors/actresses over the years who, due to good luck, good timing, or an incredibly persuasive PR campaign, undeservingly took the big, gold statue home. Here are my personal (and of course subjective) top five!
OVERRATED BEST PICTURE WIN: THE ENGLISH PATIENT
The 69th Academy Award nominated an impressive group of movies that came out in 1996. And almost any one of them would have been a better choice than the painfully boring (and oh so precious) The English Patient.
I’d have gone with the Coen brothers’ brilliantly dark film Fargo but also would have been happy with Cameron Crowe’s sweet Jerry Maguire or Mike Leigh’s understated and lovely Secrets and Lies. But the Academy didn’t see it my way.
OVERRATED BEST ACTRESS WIN: SANDRA BULLOCK (For THE BLIND SIDE)
Now before you attack me, I love Sandy B. too. She seems like a smart, charming (and obviously) beautiful woman and she can certainly act. But The Blind Side was one of the most formulaic and hacky films I’ve seen in years and Bullock’s performance, although decent, couldn’t save it.
Personally, I wasn’t thrilled with the 82nd Oscar choices for Best Actress, even though Meryl Steep and Dame Helen Mirren were among them. I’d have gone with Gabourey Sidibe for her challenging role as Precious, in the film of the same name.
OVERRATED BEST ACTOR WIN: DANIEL DAY LEWIS (For his role in Lincoln)
Of course I’m not saying that Lewis isn’t a fantastic actor. But sometimes he gets it wrong (Gangs of New York is a great example.) And while he did a competent job embodying Abe Lincoln, I believe Liam Neeson (who originally had the role) would have been stronger.
The Oscar should have gone to Joaquin Phoenix for his haunting performance in The Master or Denzel Washington for showing off his vulnerable side in Flight.
OVERRATED BEST ORIGNAL SCREENPLAY WIN: MOONSTRUCK
I loved this film. Cher was at the top of her game, as was Nicholas Cage. Moonstruck was charming and lovable. But there’s no way in hell it was as well written as Broadcast News, (which should have won.)
I’ll admit I’m a little biased on this one as Broadcast News is my all time favorite movie. But while I can accept its losses in many categories, James L. Brooks most definitely should have won for Best Original Screenplay.
ANOTHER OVERRATED BEST PICTURE WIN: CRASH
Another hacky movie, oddly again starring Sandra Bullock. I was at the award show when this won in 2006 (for the 2005 slate of films) and I couldn’t believe my ears.
Personally, I’d have chosen Capote as Best Picture starring the late, great Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote. This was the same year that Brokeback Mountain was nominated and while I didn’t think it was as good as Capote, I’d have been happier if it won over Crash.