Good Call: Nine Times the Academy Got it Right
We all know the Academy gets it wrong sometimes.
Like when Shakespeare in Love won Best Picture over Saving Private Ryan, or how The Shining wasn’t even nominated, or when Dances With Wolves cleaned up in 1991 (I mean, c’mon, it’s good, but not that good).
But what about when they called it right? When tradition was defied with a surprising choice, or an overlooked creative was finally given his or her due?
We don’t hear about those moments as much.
Here are some of the wisest, most surprising, just plain best decisions ever made at the Oscars.
Parasite Wins Best Picture
It was assumed that Parasite would take home Best International Feature in 2020.
A turn up for the books so, when it was awarded Best Picture too.
It’s even more surprising when you consider the stacked card from that year: The Irishman, Marriage Story, 1917 and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood… All great films, all more classic, Oscar-y, choices than the winner.
But, win it did, becoming the first non-English film to take home the night’s biggest prize.
Hopefully it opens the door for many more.
Roger Deakins Wins Best Cinematography
It was fourteenth time lucky for Roger Deakins at the 90th Academy Awards.
One of Hollywood’s most celebrated cinematographers, his filmography speaks for itself – The Shawshank Redemption, Prisoners, and No Country For Old Men, to name a few – and although oft nominated, he’d never won the big one.
That was until 2018, when he was rewarded for his depiction of the brutal, beautiful dystopia of Blade Runner 2049.
He wouldn’t have to wait as long for his second, winning in 2020 for his innovative work on 1917.
Frances McDormand Wins Best Actress
Of all the films nominated in 1997, Fargo is the one that has passed the test of time (and with flying colours, I might add).
However, it underperformed on the night, winning only two of its seven nominations.
At least Frances McDormand won Best Actress. I’ll leave it to writer Dan Jackson to sum up why (you can read the full article here):
Oh, you betcha!
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King‘s Record-Equalling Haul
Fantasy movies: the only genre less popular than Horror and Sci-fi at the Oscars.
It’s rare to see one nominated, let alone win. So it was nice to see the Academy go against tradition in 2004.
Besides cleaning up with a massive 11 awards – equalling Ben-Hur and Titanic‘s record – The Return of the King was also the first bona fide Fantasy to win Best Pic.
A well-deserved victory lap for a staggering cinematic achievement.
Trent Reznor and Atticus Finch Win Best Original Score
Career pivots don’t come more successful than Trent Reznor and Atticus Finch’s foray into movie music.
The Social Network would be the first of many, and what a way to start.
It’s a fantastic score. All moody synths and twitchy rhythms, it’s atmospheric, anxious, and haunting, and key to why the film works so well.
Hans Zimmer was nominated that year too, for his awesome Inception soundtrack. Any other year, he probably would have won – but Reznor and Finch deserved it.
The Academy doesn’t often go for newcomers, but I’m glad they did in 2011.
Martin Scorcese Finally Wins Best Director
The Academy hasn’t been kind to ol’ Marty.
Not only has he missed out on Best Director for some absolute masterpieces, but he wasn’t even nominated for some of his best work – I’m talking Mean Streets, Cape Fear, King of Comedy and Taxi Driver.
Still, at least he won for the ludicrously entertaining The Departed.
Almost makes up for him not winning for Goodfellas. Almost…
Adrien Brody Wins Best Actor over Daniel Day-Lewis
It was expected, for his scene-stealing Bill the Butcher in Gangs of New York, that Daniel-Day Lewis would win his second Best Actor statue.
But Adrien Brody, as Władysław Szpilman in The Pianist, took it in the end – and deservedly so.
It’s a wonderful performance. See for yourself:
While a lesser actor may have gravitated towards theatrics and melodrama, Brody wisely opts for subtlety, restraint and understatement. His physical transformation, while shocking, is incredible too.
The menacing Bill or the dignified Władysław. A tough call between two very different, and two very great, performances – but the Academy was on the money.
Spirited Away Wins Best Animated Feature
Pixar and Dreamworks have generally dominated this category, but this Studio Ghibli wonder was an exception to the rule.
It would have been a crime if it hadn’t won, really. Delightful, charming, moving, stunning to look at… All those things and more. Spirited Away is timeless.
Should have won Best Picture that year, too.
La La Land Wins Best Picture Over Moonlight
No, wait… Moonlight won over La La Land. Damn, it is easy to mix them up!
Seriously though. #Envelopegate was unfortunate for all involved. The La La Land team were stranded onstage holding an award that wasn’t theirs to hold, and everyone assumed it was poor Warren Beatty’s fault (it wasn’t).
Most unfortunate of all, I’d argue, for Moonlight, whose win has been a bit overshadowed by the controversy on the night.
This shouldn’t be.
A stunning piece of work, it’s also one of the Academy’s most unexpected Best Picture decisions; remember it wasn’t just La La Land that year, but big hitters like Hidden Figures, Arrival, and Manchester By the Sea too.
Definitely one the Academy got right.
After they got it wrong. 😉
Written by Conor Regan.
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A Review of the Golden Globes and an Intro to the Oscars
Our resident film nerds are back with another podcast! This time around, Aoife and Sam chat about the recent Golden Globe winners and Oscar nominees in a few of the big categories, ahead of the bumper podcast that will be coming your way at the beginning of March. “So Bohemian Rhapsody won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture/Drama and I thought that was kind of disappointing to be honest.”
Winner of Best Motion Picture – Drama in the Golden Globes and nominated for the Oscar for Best Motion Picture, Bohemian Rhapsody also has its star Rami Malek up for an Oscar for Best Actor after winning the Golden Globe. “I think it’s just one of those films where it baits the crowd. This is exactly what people want even though it’s not what happened.”
To say these two disagreed with some of the winners is an understatement so be prepared to hear a lot of opinions about who won and who they felt should have. “That’s what I was planning to do with A Star is Born, I was like, I don’t think I’m going to like this movie and people are going to hate me for not liking it. But someone said, no, you have to go see it! So I trusted that person and I did not love it.”
Some of the breakout hits of the year that captivated audiences and critics alike, such as A Star is Born, just did not hit the mark for these two. Nominated in four categories in the Golden Globes and snagging the win for Best Original Song with “Shallow”, this popular drama has been nominated for eight Oscars over all. “It would be a bit of a kick in the teeth for the other actresses who have been around for a long time for a singer to get an Oscar on her first try.”
That’s not to say they hated everything, two films got mentioned more than once as favourites by them; Roma and The Favourite. “She was really good, she just wasn’t outstanding. Unlike Yalitza Aparicio, she was the lead in Roma and she was just absolutely outstanding. She just blew me away.” Roma took home two Golden Globes, for Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language and Best Director respectively, and is also up for a grand total of ten Oscars, competing directly with The Favourite who is up for the same after Olivia Colman’s win at the Golden Globes.
We’d love to hear your opinions on the Golden Globes and don’t forget to check back next month for our take on the Oscars 2019!
Samantha Lyons | Inflight Dublin © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved. © 2018 Warner Bros. Ent. All rights reserved.