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Empire & Sky Movies present coverage of the Academy Awards
22 Incredibly Shocking Oscars Injustices
We attempt to right those Oscar wrongs

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Christopher Nolan fans might disagree, but the Academy has done a pretty top-notch job of picking the strongest candidates to slug it out at the Kodak this February – but it hasn’t always done quite as well with its picks. In fact, there’ve been years when the runners and riders seemed to be picked via some kind of elaborate game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Think about the giddy adventure of Raiders Of The Lost Ark losing out to Chariots Of Fire which, stirring as it was, was really just a two-hour long reason to go for a jog. Not to mention Alfred Hitchcock never winning a single Academy Award. Not one. Then there’s It’s A Wonderful Life getting pipped by The Best Years Of Our Lives, Apocalypse Now taking a slow-mo sword swipe from Kramer Vs. Kramer, and Citizen Kane losing to, erm... we forget. But those are minor injustices compared to some of the other kahunas we’ve identified and, in our own small way, rectified.

WORDS PHIL DE SEMLYEN
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22 Incredibly Shocking Oscars Injustices | Best Actor (1999)
BEST ACTOR (1999)

Who should have won: Edward Norton (American History X)

Who won: Roberto Benigni (Life Is Beautiful)

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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Your Comments

1 Balloon Dog
It's great that you still have lists like this 25 years after giving us the magazine that loves film like no other. Touching, too, to see that you have mellowed on the Goodfellas vs Dances With Wolves argument, which I was certain would feature here. Frank Capra's "Balloon Dog" is a brilliant idea for a film; one of you should definitely write a script for it. However, it does make me wonder: whatever happened to "Pork Chop" (the script what Empire wrote). Is it STILL in development hell after all these decades?! More

Posted by RICHARD CHAMBERS on Thursday February 27, 2014, 15:03

2 Great list
Here is another good list of actors who should have one the oscars: http://www.listnerd.com/list/actors-who-should-have-won -oscars-but-have-not More

Posted by magdalena| on Thursday February 20, 2014, 19:39

3 The Worst Overlook? Claude Rains
He could have justly been given the Oscar for half a dozen performances, but the worst mistake was Oscar's failure to give him the nod for best supporting Oscar for "Casablanca" in which he manages to do the unthinkable--steal every scene in which he appears, even when sharing that scene with the likes of Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart. The character he creates is at once, venal, immensely charming, amusing, despicable, and yet likeable. It was a character and performance for the ages in one of Hollywood's greatest films. More

Posted by ThomasWMutherJr on Sunday February 9, 2014, 09:59

4
Good list, but you forgot some things. Gwyneth Paltrow winning over Cate Blanchett? The English Patent over Fargo or Jerry Magurie? Dances with wolves over Goodfellas? Shakespere in Love over Saving Private Ryan? How could you forget those snubs!?!? More

Posted by Darren47 on Monday January 20, 2014, 21:08

5
Munich a "lesser Spielberg"? I seem to remember your review describing it as Spielberg operating at his peak. Don't worry, I appreciate that there is more than one Empire writer. It's just that I absolutely adore Munich and I consider it one of his best. So, needless to say, I would've given it the main prizes, however Brokeback Mountain would have been a worthy winner and GNAGL was excellent as well. Absolutely ridiculous that Crash won over all of them. Even the not-nominated comic book classics that year like Sin City and A History Of Violence were waaaaay better. More

Posted by Mr Gittes on Friday April 5, 2013, 14:07

6 goodfellas!!
Martin scorsese should've won the Oscar for "Goddfellas" i think. He also didn't accept the Oscar when he had made "Raging Bull" More

Posted by movielover28 on Thursday February 23, 2012, 19:29

7 Shawshank!
Shawshank should have got best picture at the 67th Awards. Forrest Gump and Pulp Fiction are both brilliant but Shawshank is EPIC! More

Posted by guysalisbury on Friday February 17, 2012, 09:48

8 RE: 22 Incredibly Shocking Oscars Injustices
How about The best visual effects win for The Golden Compuss when Transformers should of won they were first rate effects. More

Posted by NCC1701A on Monday March 14, 2011, 14:37

9 Kramer vs Kramer vs Apocalypse Now
Describing Kramer vs Kramer as a "courtroom drama" only serves to demonstrate that whoever wrote this copy hasn't actually seen the film. The award was for best director, not "most complicated production", "most gruelling shoot", or "most impressive film". Robert Benton's work on Kramer vs Kramer was nothing short of astonishing. The Academy didn't get that one wrong at all. More

Posted by byronbache on Saturday February 26, 2011, 04:34

10 1999: "The Insider" scandal...
Sorry,but what about the great Michael Mann ??Oh yes he's just a "minor" director: "last of the mohicans","collateral","public enemies","heat"...and his masterpiece,"the insider".In 1999, "American Beauty" had scandalously stolen all the statues that "the insider" deserved.It's for me the bigest scandal in Oscars history so far. The victory of "Titanic" over "L.A. Confidential" comes in second. The fact that "Seven" has received only the Editing Oscar comes in 3rd. More

Posted by tylerseven on Wednesday February 23, 2011, 12:00

11 The Oscars are mostly a farse
The reality is that the Oscars are not given out to whom deserves them, but to who's politically relevant at the time, or who's due one after all these years. Take Morgan Freeman: He was given one for million dollar baby because they owed him one for Shawshank. Or Hitchcock who never won a Oscar probably because he just made thrillers, and they're not "deep". (even though he rewrote Freud with his work) Let's face it: If you're an ethnic, disabled midget, with learning difficulties you might as well prepare your speech now. What annoys me the most is that the Oscar don't usually go to the best films, but to the ones that tick the most political boxes. A film about croutons and their interaction with soup should beat a film about apartheid if it's a better film. Nuff said. More

Posted by David Hirst on Monday February 21, 2011, 21:57

12 Judi Dench
You mention that Judi Dench's run time is a little too skinny for the Oscar? What about Beatrice Straight's performance as Louise Schumacher in Network? Just over five minutes = best supporting gong. More

Posted by Lord Byron Pitt on Wednesday February 16, 2011, 17:58

13
I agree with most from the list and especially the blasphemous non-recognition of Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick for their masterpieces or just for pure direction. Even though any awards should not be considered as a sure-fire metric standard for measuring up a quality of a movie still they are a way of recognizing the genius from any field, movies or not. But if I do take it that way, Oscars surely did some injustices by IGNORING... 1. The Maltese Falcon 2. Pacino (for any of the seven roles he was nominated for instead of the one he actually won for) 3. Dressed To Kill (1980) for at least some nominations 4. Denzel Washington (Cry Freedom, Crimson Tide), Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction), Kevin Spacey (SE7EN), Tom Hanks (Cast Away) - (How could they miss that one ??!!!), Russell Crowe (A Beautiful Mind), Sergio Leone, Robert Altman and his creations, especially M*A*S*H (1970). Also SE7EN(1995), L. A. Confidential (1997), Saving Private Ryan (1998), More

Posted by Amol on Monday February 14, 2011, 05:31

14 RE: Best Documentary, 78th Academy Awards
What about Tron not being included for Best Visual Effects because it was done using computers? Wow. More

Posted by JCRendle on Monday February 7, 2011, 21:35

15 RE: more Oscars injustices
One glaring omission from the oscar omissions feature was Ralph Feinnes (as Amon Goeth in Schindlers list) losing out to Tommy Lee Jones (As Sam "Shouty cop" Gerrard in The Fugitive) at the 1994 oscars. Shocking More

Posted by snaze1 on Monday February 7, 2011, 17:14

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