Deakins Was Robbed: History’s Biggest Oscars Snubs
There are Oscar snubs every year – head scratchers, tears, unrealized dreams, and curious choices. Anyone who knows anything about the awards knows that the Academy consistently makes huge mistakes. These egregious calls have become an 87-year backlog of fodder for debate amongst civilians and pompous film nerds alike.
Who do we think deserved more than they got?
Lifetime of Disenchantment – Peter O’Toole
Despite being one of the most accomplished actors of all time, including his breakthrough performance in the epic Lawrence of Arabia, Peter O’Toole never won an Academy award. O’Toole holds two distinct records: the only actor to be nominated for playing the same role in two unrelated films (he played King Henry II in both Becket and The Lion in the Winter) and the most nominations by an actor without a win. FOR SHAME!
Individual Snub – Dennis Hopper, Blue Velvet (1986)
David Lynch owes much of the cult status and critical success of Blue Velvet to the terrifying performance of Dennis Hopper. Hopper’s Frank Booth is the stuff of nightmarish legend and is considered one of the most iconic performances in cinematic history. His gas-sniffing psychopath was overlooked by the Academy in favor of his more family-friendly, heart-warming turn in Hoosiers. This is just one of countless examples of the Academy playing it safe instead of rewarding true art.
WTF/Most Egregious Snub - 2001: A Space Odyssey, Best Picture (1968)
A landmark in filmmaking, 2001: A Space Odyssey is still considered by most film historians the greatest sci-fi film of all time. Kubrick, that’s Stanley Kubrick, pushed the limits of cinema, technically and philosophically. It’s one of the most challenging yet most rewarding films ever made. Kubrick set precedent, laying the groundwork for endless generations of filmmakers. From Star Wars to last year’s Interstellar, which admittedly borrowed imagery, music, color palettes, and themes from Kubrick’s masterpiece, every significant science-fiction film will always be compared to this groundbreaking opus. The fact that this film only received four nominations, not including Best Picture, is reason enough to never take the Academy Awards seriously, ever.
Shouldn’t Have Cross-Dressed - Anthony Perkins, Psycho (1960)
Thank god nobody ruined the ending of “Psycho” for me prior to watching it many, many years after I should have. The most lasting impression of Psycho is the amazingly creepy and effective villain Norman Bates, as portrayed by Anthony Perkins. It’s unfathomable to me that he failed to at least garner an Oscar nomination. Yet, I suppose upon reflection, it’s not difficult to understand why. It was 1960 and Hollywood wasn’t ready to award that kind of character. Maybe it was the cross dressing, split personality disorder, or the Oidepus complex; however, in my opinion, it was the classification. Psycho was clearly a horror movie and Hollywood turned its nose up. The Academy shamefully only awarded Hitchcock with it’s Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, also known as the honorary Oscar, and his amazing “acceptance” speech reflects what must have been civil discontent.
#RealTalk Snub - Do the Right Thing (1989)
“On the hottest day of the year on a street in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, everyone’s hate and bigotry smolders and builds until it explodes into violence.” Spike Lee’s film was a landmark portrait of modern U.S. race relations. Though it was regarded by Siskel and Ebert as one of the best films of the 1980s, it only garnered a best supporting role and best screenplay nod from the Academy. Not surprising when you contemplate the Academy voting demographic, who opted instead to award “Driving Miss Daisy” with Best Picture that year, a portrayal of race relations that was much easier to swallow. Spoiler alert! In the film’s climactic scene, police use a deadly chokehold against antagonist ‘Radio Raheem’ as he refuses to release ‘Buggin’ Out’ during a scuffle. Sadly, life imitates are nearly three decades later with the death of New Yorker Eric Garner by way of police chokehold. NSFW: In a disturbing and heartbreaking illustration, Spike Lee intercuts this scene with the death of Eric Garner.
Too Much Heart - Hoop Dreams (1994)
One of the best documentaries ever, period, Steve James’ “Hoop Dreams” follows the lives of two inner-city, poverty stricken Chicago boys – Arthur Agee and William Gates – who struggle to become college basketball players on the road to the NBA stardom. The camera intimately follows both young men as they balance practice, tremendous expectations, the welfare system, and family tragedy. What was originally intended to be a 30 minute short film ballooned into 5 years and 250 hours of footage, grossing over $11 million worldwide. Despite being the top film pick for Siskel and Ebert of 1994 and, according to several sources, appearing on more critics’ Top 10 lists than any other film (including Pulp Fiction, Forrest Gump, or The Shawshank Redemption), Hoop Dreams, tragically, failed to even make the shortlist for the Academy. Let me repeat. Not. Even. The. Shortlist! However, in 2005, James’ film was inducted as one of the 25 slots each year, into the National Film Registry for “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant films”.
“That Was Weird” Snub - Harold & Maude (1971)
Sure, the 44th Academy Awards featured a tough lot to be pitted against as far as Best Picture noms go (A Clockwork Orange, The Last Picture Show, and Sunday Bloody Sunday dominated that and most of the other categories), but Harold & Maude wasn’t mentioned at all. Not the film, not its screenplay, not the incredible performances by Ruth Gordon or Bud Cort. I suppose Hal Ashby had a few other Academy successes, but this one definitely irks me.
Uh, She’d Be On My Radar Snub - Rita Hayworth, Gilda (1946)
It’s impossible not to notice Rita Hayworth – and it always was that way. Her desire to act and her indomitable commitment to transforming into one of Hollywood’s greatest sex symbols landed her countless notable roles throughout a prolific career. If for nothing else, Hayworth should have been recognized for her powerful, unforgettable performance in Charles VIdor’s Gilda. A hopelessly dark, three-way love story about gambling cheat Johnny Farrell, the unsettling casino owner he works for, and Farrell’s ex-lover, Gilda is a sultry, can’t-look-away piece of noir cinema. Hayworth’s sheer force playing the at once vulnerable and impenetrable vision is enough to take your breath away.
Did They Even See This Snub - Breathless (1961)
What is there to even say? À Bout de Souffle, directed by Jean-Luc Godard, is one of the most important films in the history of film. Maybe even in the pre-history of film. The only conclusion that might justify it not even getting nominated for Best Foreign Picture, let alone winning, is that it was simply too good, too revolutionary. The Academy probably didn’t get it. Just like they don’t get women’s rights and how to not be racist, ya dig?