The Academy Got It Wrong? – Motion Picture Thoughts #9

Academy Analysis 2016

This edition of Academy Analysis covers every Best Picture Winner since the 63rd ceremony (March 1991), ending with the 88th ceremony (February 2016).

So, one of the things I want to do in Motion Picture Thoughts is to really highlight the Academy Awards. I watch it every year. I obsess over nominees. I’m just incredibly intrigued by the Oscars. So, a couple of months ago, I decided to write about the best picture winners at the Oscars. In the future, I may focus on another award.

Now, as you may have noticed this Academy Analysis focuses on all ceremonies starting with 1991. I don’t feel comfortable going further back right now, but it may be relevant in the future. At the end of this post, I’ll present whether or not the Academy got their selections wrong.


63rd Academy Awards – March 1991 – Honoring Films From 1990

academy-got-it-wrongBest Picture Nominations:

  • Awakenings
  • Dances With Wolves
  • Ghost
  • Goodfellas
  • The Godfather Part III
  • Best Picture Winner: Dances With Wolves – Directed by Kevin Costner.

This ceremony really annoys me. Goodfellas is arguably one of the best films of all-time, and it lost to Kevin Costner’s directorial debut?! Okay, Dances With Wolves is good, but it, in no way, should’ve won Best Picture or Best Director. Goodfellas has been referred to as a masterpiece for so long. It is an absolutely incredible film.

The Nomination Snub(s):

  • Miller’s Crossing

This was back when the Academy only nominated five films (changed in 2009), which I actually think they should have stuck with. Miller’s Crossing probably should have taken one of the five spots, but I don’t think it should have won the award for Best Picture.

Result: The Academy is 0 for 1: The Academy Got It Wrong.


64th Academy Awards – March 1992 – Honoring Films From 1991

academy-got-it-right

Best Picture Nominations:

  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Bugsy
  • JFK
  • The Prince of Tides
  • The Silence of the Lambs
  • Best Picture Winner: The Silence of the Lambs – Directed by Jonathan Demme.

Now this is one of those times when I think they could’ve picked either Beauty and the Beast or JFK, and I probably wouldn’t complain too much (especially not if the former had won). But The Silence of the Lambs is an awesome film, and I probably would have voted for that one if I were a member of the Academy.

The Nomination Snub(s):

  • Barton Fink
  • Boyz n the Hood
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day

If the Academy had had the opportunity to nominate up to ten films back in the early 1990s, then I think the above three could’ve gotten some love here. But ultimately, I don’t think they really had a real shot at taking the award, when they were up against The Silence of the Lambs.

Result: The Academy is 1 for 2: The Academy Got It Right.


65th Academy Awards – March 1993 – Honoring Films From 1992

academy-got-it-right

Best Picture Nominations:

  • A Few Good Men
  • Howards End 
  • Scent of a Woman
  • The Crying Game
  • Unforgiven
  • Best Picture Winner: Unforgiven – Directed by Clint Eastwood.

I probably would’ve voted for A Few Good Men, if I were a member of the Academy – but I really don’t think you can argue that Unforgiven didn’t deserve to win. This probably isn’t the strongest year for film, but there were a couple that could have been nominated…

The Nomination Snub(s):

  • Aladdin
  • The Player

Those are the only ones that really stick out, for me. But again, I don’t think you can really fault the Academy for saying Unforgiven is the best film of 1992.

Result: The Academy is 2 for 3: The Academy Got It Right.


66th Academy Awards – March 1994 – Honoring Films From 1993

academy-got-it-right

Best Picture Nominations:

  • In the Name of the Father
  • Schindler’s List
  • The Fugitive
  • The Piano
  • The Remains of the Day
  • Best Picture Winner: Schindler’s List – Directed by Steven Spielberg.

You can’t really argue with Schindler’s List. What a year for Spielberg.

The Nomination Snub(s):

  • Groundhog Day
  • Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park is amazing, and, in my opinion, it should have been nominated for Best Picture (and probably would’ve if they could’ve nominated 10 films back in the day).

Result: The Academy is 3 for 4: The Academy Got It Right.


67th Academy Awards – March 1995 – Honoring Films From 1994

academy-got-it-right

Best Picture Nominations:

  • Four Wedding and a Funeral
  • Forrest Gump
  • Pulp Fiction
  • Quiz Show
  • The Shawshank Redemption
  • Best Picture Winner: Forrest Gump – Directed by Robert Zemeckis.

I know that it has become popular to hate on Forrest Gump, but I still really love the film. I believe I’ve given Pulp Fiction a higher score than any of the other films, but it isn’t by much. I can’t really complain. This was a remarkably strong year. Sometimes you may see only one near-masterpiece on the list, but there are four films here that I’d classify as near-masterpieces in their genres. I don’t think one of the films is that much better than Forrest Gump.

The Nomination Snub(s):

  • The Lion King

Yeah, The Lion King probably should’ve been nominated, but the films in 1994 were too strong for it to be truly ‘missing’ among the nominees.

Result: The Academy is 4 for 5: The Academy Got It Right.


68th Academy Awards – March 1996 – Honoring Films From 1995

academy-got-it-wrong

Best Picture Nominations:

  • Apollo 13
  • Babe
  • Braveheart
  • Il Postino: The Postman
  • Sense and Sensibility
  • Best Picture Winner: Braveheart – Directed by Mel Gibson.

Of the films that were nominated, I probably would’ve voted for Apollo 13, but Braveheart is great too. But the huge problem here is a snub.

The Nomination Snub(s):

  • Toy Story

Toy Story is my favorite film of the 1990s. It is one of, if not, the best animated films of all-time. It is a masterpiece. Somehow they didn’t nominate it. Damn it, Academy…

Result: The Academy is 4 for 6: The Academy Got It Wrong.


69th Academy Awards – March 1997 – Honoring Films From 1996

academy-got-it-wrong

Best Picture Nominations:

  • Fargo
  • Jerry Maguire
  • Secrets and Lies
  • Shine
  • The English Patient
  • Best Picture Winner: The English Patient – Directed by Anthony Minghella.

I’m sure there are a lot of fans of The English Patient, but, really, we all know that Fargo should’ve won here, right?

The Nomination Snub(s):

  • Scream

A great film that I’d have nominated, but it wouldn’t have won.

Result: The Academy is 4 for 7: The Academy Got It Wrong.


70th Academy Awards – March 1998 – Honoring Films From 1997

academy-got-it-wrong

Best Picture Nominations:

  • As Good As It Gets
  • Good Will Hunting
  • L.A. Confidential
  • The Full Monty
  • Titanic
  • Best Picture Winner: Titanic – Directed by James Cameron.

I really cannot believe Good Will Hunting didn’t win Best Picture. Titanic is great, but Good Will Hunting is a near-masterpiece. I guess Titanic falls into the Avatar-category, i.e. just another spectacle getting recognition, but Good Will Hunting is the better film.

The Nomination Snub(s):

  • ?

Honestly, I think they pretty much got the right nominees in there.

Result: The Academy is 4 for 8: The Academy Got It Wrong.


71st Academy Awards – March 1999 – Honoring Films From 1998

academy-got-it-wrong

Best Picture Nominations:

  • Elizabeth
  • Life is Beautiful
  • Saving Private Ryan
  • Shakespeare in Love
  • The Thin Red Line
  • Best Picture Winner: Shakespeare in Love – Directed by John Madden.

How? Again, I’m sure there are a lot of huge fans of Shakespeare in Love, but it doesn’t come close to Saving Private Ryan. Seriously, how?

The Nomination Snub(s):

  • Mulan
  • The Big Lebowski
  • The Truman Show

Result: The Academy is 4 for 9: The Academy Got It Wrong.


72nd Academy Awards – March 2000 – Honoring Films From 1999

academy-got-it-right

Best Picture Nominations:

  • American Beauty
  • The Cider House Rules
  • The Green Mile
  • The Insider
  • The Sixth Sense
  • Best Picture Winner: American Beauty – Directed by Sam Mendes.

I love The Green Mile as much as the next guy, but here’s the thing: American Beauty is really, really good, and I’m a big fan of that film.

The Nomination Snub(s):

  • Fight Club
  • Toy Story 2

Result: The Academy is 5 for 10: The Academy Got It Right.


73rd Academy Awards – March 2001 – Honoring Films From 2000

academy-got-it-right

Best Picture Nominations:

  • Chocolat
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
  • Erin Brockovich
  • Gladiator
  • Traffic
  • Best Picture Winner: Gladiator – Directed by Ridley Scott.

Now, I don’t think all of the above films should’ve gotten a nomination, but Gladiator is the clear and rightful winner (at least from the films that were nominated).

The Nomination Snub(s):

  • Almost Famous
  • Cast Away
  • Memento
  • Unbreakable

Result: The Academy is 6 for 11: The Academy Got It Right.


74th Academy Awards – March 2002 – Honoring Films From 2001

academy-got-it-wrong

Best Picture Nominations:

  • A Beautiful Mind
  • Gosford Park
  • In the Bedroom
  • Moulin Rouge!
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings
  • Best Picture Winner: A Beautiful Mind – Directed by Ron Howard.

I’m sure that a lot of die-hard Tolkien fans are upset about this one. I’m not upset for them, though. A Beautiful Mind is great, but somehow they failed to even nominate the best film of 2001.

The Nomination Snub(s):

  • Donnie Darko
  • Monsters, Inc.

It’s not even close for me. Monsters, Inc. is the best film of 2001. It wasn’t nominated for Best Picture and it lost Best Animated Feature to Shrek. Shrek‘s great, but Monsters, Inc. is so much better.

Result: The Academy is 6 for 12: The Academy Got It Wrong.


75th Academy Awards – March 2003 – Honoring Films From 2002

academy-got-it-wrong

Best Picture Nominations:

  • Chicago
  • Gangs of New York
  • The Hours
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
  • The Pianist
  • Best Picture Winner: Chicago – Directed by Rob Marshall.

Yeah, I really don’t get how they chose Chicago over the other films. The Pianist, to me, is a masterpiece.

The Nomination Snub(s):

  • Catch Me If You Can

I don’t know how it didn’t get nominated. It’s fantastic.

Result: The Academy is 6 for 13: The Academy Got It Wrong.


76th Academy Awards – February 2004 – Honoring Films From 2003

academy-got-it-right

Best Picture Nominations:

  • Lost in Translation
  • Master and Commander
  • Mystic River
  • Seabiscuit
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • Best Picture Winner: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King – Directed by Peter Jackson.

Okay, so, here’s the thing. I absolutely love Lost in Translation. I think it’s a beautiful film, and I would’ve loved to see it get the Best Picture win. Now, that said, I can’t really argue with their decision. I love The Return of the King too, and that trilogy deserves at least one Best Picture win.

The Nomination Snub(s):

  • Finding Nemo

I’m not as big of a fan of Finding Nemo as others are, but this could – and maybe should – have been among the nominees.

Result: The Academy is 7 for 14: The Academy Got It Right.


77th Academy Awards – February 2005 – Honoring Films From 2004

academy-got-it-right

Best Picture Nominations:

  • Finding Neverland
  • Million Dollar Baby
  • Ray
  • Sideways
  • The Aviator
  • Best Picture Winner: Million Dollar Baby – Directed by Clint Eastwood.

I would have definitely voted for The Aviator, but I can’t argue with their decision.

The Nomination Snub(s):

  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • Spider-Man 2

Two blockbuster films that rarely get the recognition they deserve at awards shows.

Result: The Academy is 8 for 15: The Academy Got It Right.


78th Academy Awards – March 2006 – Honoring Films From 2005

academy-got-it-wrong

Best Picture Nominations:

  • Brokeback Mountain
  • Capote
  • Crash
  • Good Night, and Good Luck
  • Munich
  • Best Picture Winner: Crash – Directed by Paul Haggis.

I still don’t get this. Brokeback Mountain is the best film here, by far, if you ask me.

The Nomination Snub(s):

  • Walk the Line

I enjoyed this film a lot, but I get why they had a tough time finding room for it among the nominees.

Result: The Academy is 8 for 16: The Academy Got It Wrong.


79th Academy Awards – February 2007 – Honoring Films From 2006

academy-got-it-right

Best Picture Nominations:

  • Babel
  • Letters from Iwo Jima
  • Little Miss Sunshine
  • The Departed
  • The Queen
  • Best Picture Winner: The Departed – Directed by Martin Scorsese.

You won’t catch me being harsh on this film. It is one of my personal favorites.

The Nomination Snub(s):

  • Casino Royale
  • Pan’s Labyrinth

Honestly, I think this is the best James Bond film ever made. I do think it should have been nominated. Pan’s Labyrinth got a lot of love at the Oscars, even though it didn’t get the big nomination.

Result: The Academy is 9 for 17: The Academy Got It Right.


80th Academy Awards – February 2008 – Honoring Films From 2007

academy-got-it-right

Best Picture Nominations:

  • Atonement
  • Juno
  • Michael Clayton
  • No Country For Old Men
  • There Will Be Blood
  • Best Picture Winner: No Country For Old Men – Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen.

I’m not going to argue with this one.

The Nomination Snub(s):

  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

I really loved this film, but I totally get why they couldn’t find a spot for it.

Result: The Academy is 10 for 18: The Academy Got It Right.


81st Academy Awards – February 2009 – Honoring Films From 2008

academy-got-it-wrong

Best Picture Nominations:

  • Frost/Nixon
  • Milk
  • Slumdog Millionaire
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • The Reader
  • Best Picture Winner: Slumdog Millionaire – Directed by Danny Boyle.

I really, really like Danny Boyle and his work, but I think his film won in a category that was missing one or two heavy-hitters here.

The Nomination Snub(s):

  • Iron Man
  • The Dark Knight
  • The Wrestler
  • Wall-E

So many great movies they missed here… How wasn’t The Dark Knight nominated? How?!

Result: The Academy is 10 for 19: The Academy Got It Wrong.


82nd Academy Awards – March 2010 – Honoring Films From 2009

academy-got-it-wrong

Best Picture Nominations:

  • An Education
  • Avatar
  • A Serious Man
  • District 9
  • Inglourious Basterds
  • Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire
  • The Blind Side
  • The Hurt Locker
  • Up
  • Up in the Air
  • Best Picture Winner: The Hurt Locker – Directed by Kathryn Bigelow.

A lot of movies to get through here, and a lot of just super good movies in general. I recently rewatched The Hurt Locker, and I liked it a lot more than I used to. But – to be honest – I do think Inglourious Basterds was the right choice here. One of Tarantino’s very best films.

The Nomination Snub(s):

  • ?

They pretty much got every film that deserved to be nominated in the category.

Result: The Academy is 10 for 20: The Academy Got It Wrong.


83rd Academy Awards – February 2011 – Honoring Films From 2010

academy-got-it-wrong

Best Picture Nominations:

  • 127 Hours
  • Black Swan
  • Inception
  • The Fighter
  • The Kids Are All Right
  • The King’s Speech
  • The Social Network
  • Toy Story 3
  • True Grit
  • Winter’s Bone
  • Best Picture Winner: The King’s Speech – Directed by Tom Hooper.

I enjoy The King’s Speech more than most people, I think, but I cannot ignore that the Oscars chose not to recognize Inception, Toy Story 3, or The Social Network in this category.

The Nomination Snub(s):

  • Incendies

Such a tough film to watch, but it should’ve been nominated.

Result: The Academy is 10 for 21: The Academy Got It Wrong.


84th Academy Awards – February 2012 – Honoring Films From 2011

academy-got-it-wrong

Best Picture Nominations:

  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
  • Hugo
  • Midnight in Paris
  • Moneyball
  • The Artist
  • The Descendants
  • The Help
  • The Tree of Life
  • War Horse
  • Best Picture Winner: The Artist – Directed by Michael Hazanavicius.

This just showed everyone that the Academy was out of touch with the interests of the movie-going public. My choice would probably be Moneyball or Midnight in Paris.

The Nomination Snub(s):

  • 50/50
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
  • Warrior

This was their one opportunity to really give Harry Potter some recognition. Alan Rickman should’ve been nominated for Best Supporting Actor as well. 50/50 was my favorite film of the year, and I cannot believe it wasn’t nominated.

Result: The Academy is 10 for 22: The Academy Got It Wrong.


85th Academy Awards – February 2013 – Honoring Films From 2012

academy-got-it-right

Best Picture Nominations:

  • Amour
  • Argo
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Django Unchained
  • Les Misérables
  • Life of Pi
  • Lincoln
  • Silver Linings Playbook
  • Zero Dark Thirty
  • Best Picture Winner: Argo – Directed by Ben Affleck.

I don’t think people will be talking about Argo in a few years, but I don’t think they made a bad choice here.

The Nomination Snub(s):

  • Marvel’s The Avengers
  • Skyfall
  • The Hunt/Jagten

I think they should’ve nominated at least one of these, and especially The Hunt. But neither of the three could’ve taken Argo‘s award, I think.

Result: The Academy is 11 for 23: The Academy Got It Right.


86th Academy Awards – March 2014 – Honoring Films From 2013

academy-got-it-right

Best Picture Nominations:

  • 12 Years A Slave
  • American Hustle
  • Captain Phillips
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • Gravity
  • Her
  • Nebraska
  • Philomena
  • The Wolf of Wall Street
  • Best Picture Winner: 12 Years A Slave – Directed by Steve McQueen.

A terrific year for film. My personal favorite of the nominees is definitely Her, but 12 Years A Slave is probably the best film. So they did a pretty great job this year.

The Nomination Snub(s):

  • Frozen
  • Fruitvale Station
  • Mud
  • Prisoners
  • The Place Beyond the Pines

All of these films are great, but none of them would’ve taken it from 12 Years A Slave.

Result: The Academy is 12 for 24: The Academy Got It Right.


87th Academy Awards – February 2015 – Honoring Films From 2014

academy-got-it-wrong

Best Picture Nominations:

  • American Sniper
  • Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
  • Boyhood
  • Selma
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Imitation Game
  • The Theory of Everything
  • Whiplash
  • Best Picture Winner: Birdman – Directed by Alejandro G. Inarritu.

I was so upset when Boyhood didn’t win this year. Birdman is great, I’m not saying it isn’t. But Boyhood was a real achievement. Actually, though, Whiplash has probably become my favorite of all of the nominated films here. I think it gets better every time I watch it.

The Nomination Snub(s):

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Interstellar

They probably won’t ever nominate a Marvel Studios movie for Best Picture (even though it probably would be fair to honor the blockbusters). Interstellar is way better than the vocal minority make it out to be.

Result: The Academy is 12 for 25: The Academy Got It Wrong.


88th Academy Awards – February 2016 – Honoring Films From 2015

academy-got-it-right

Best Picture Nominations:

  • Bridge of Spies
  • Brooklyn
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Room
  • Spotlight
  • The Big Short
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant
  • Best Picture Winner: Spotlight – Directed by Tom McCarthy.

Mad Max or Spotlight – those were the right choice that evening. Thankfully, they made a solid choice here.

The Nomination Snub(s):

  • Ex_Machina
  • Inside Out
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I still think Inside Out was the best film of the year, and The Force Awakens was my second favorite film of the year. Ex_Machina rounded out my personal top three. Still, Spotlight was the right choice here, I think.

Result: The Academy is 13 for 26: The Academy Got It Right.


We’ve reached the final result, and I’m honestly a little bit shocked. It’s a tie. Didn’t think that was how it would turn out. Let’s take a closer look at the results.


13x-wrong

13 wrong choices. Over the last 26 ceremonies, the Academy got it wrong 13 times. The following ceremonies were problematic: 63rd; 68th; 69th; 70th; 71st; 74th; 75th; 78th; 81st; 82nd; 83rd; 84th; 87th.


13x-right

13 right choices. Over the last 26 ceremonies, the Academy got it right 13 times. The following ceremonies were solid: 64th; 65th; 66th; 67th; 72nd; 73rd; 76th; 77th; 79th; 80th; 85th; 86th; 88th.


But those are my thoughts. Feel free to sound off in the comments if you disagree with some of my verdicts here. If you want more of these opinion pieces, then please support this edition of Motion Picture Thoughts.

– I’m Jeffrey Rex

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2 comments

  1. Gotta disagree with Forrest Gump over Pulp Fiction. Like you, I’m a bit of an apologist for Gump, but especially with hindsight it’s clear that Pulp Fiction was a masterpiece.
    Totally agree with most of your picks, especially The Social Network which I think is Fincher’s best film.
    And I appreciate the love for Spider-Man 2.

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