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And The Oscar DOESN'T Go To...

 

I always love talking Oscars so I thought this week, I’d look back at the last few years. Almost every single year, a film wins the best picture Oscar to the distaste of film critics and film aficionados. The Academy tends to take a conservative line and follows the publicity but critics use their positions in newspaper columns to plead with members to vote for the film they truly believe in. So let’s start with 1995 and look at what won, but more importantly, what should have won (according to those in the know).

 

1995

Winner: Forrest Gump

Other Nominees: Four Weddings & A Funeral, Pulp Fiction, Quiz Show, The Shawshank Redemption

What Should Have Won: The Shawshank Redemption! In a vintage year, the weakest of the five nominees got up based on pure box-office. The Shawshank Redemption deserved to win except for the fact no one saw it. The film had such a small release that it only found its feet on video when it was much too late. A shame.

 

1996

Winner: Braveheart

Other Nominees: Apollo 13, Babe, Il Postino, Sense & Sensibility

What Should Have Won: Apollo 13! This was Ron Howard’s crowning achievement and despite winning the Directors’ Guild prize, Academy members didn’t favour him. There was a tradition at the time of actors-turned-directors (Kevin Costner – Dances With Wolves & Clint Eastwood – Unforgiven) to win the prize and yes, Mel Gibson won them over again with Braveheart.

 

1997

Winner: The English Patient

Other Nominees: Fargo, Jerry Maguire, Secrets & Lies, Shine

What Should Have Won: Fargo! Everyone tried hard to get this low budget $6m comedy from the Coen Brothers over the line. Sadly, the Oscar went to The English Patient thanks to a huge advertising campaign from Miramax.

 

1998

Winner: Titanic

Other Nominees: As Good As It Gets, The Full Monty, Good Will Hunting, L.A. Confidential

What Should Have Won: L.A. Confidential! Believe it or not, despite the $600m box-office gross and the record number of nominations, there were many who wanted to see Titanic fail. The clear quality release of the year was L.A. Confidential but it came out back in May that year (as opposed to Titanic’s December release date) and thanks to a poor campaign from Warner Bros, Titanic had no competition.

 

1998

Winner: Shakespeare In Love

Other Nominees: Elizabeth, Life Is Beautiful, Saving Private Ryan, The Thin Red Line

What Should Have Won: Saving Private Ryan! Everything went amiss here for Dreamworks and Saving Private Ryan. The marketing gurus at Miramax conjured up a superb campaign by transforming the contest into a two horse race between Love and Ryan. There were rumours the Love would sneak home but few would have believe it. Yet when Harrison Ford read out the winning name from the envelope, it was now part of history.

 

1999

Winner: Shakespeare In Love

Other Nominees: Elizabeth, Life Is Beautiful, Saving Private Ryan, The Thin Red Line

What Should Have Won: Saving Private Ryan! Everything went amiss here for Dreamworks and Saving Private Ryan. The marketing gurus at Miramax conjured up a superb campaign by transforming the contest into a two horse race between Love and Ryan. There were rumours the Love would sneak home but few would have believe it. Yet when Harrison Ford read out the winning name from the envelope, it was now part of history.

 

2000

Winner: American Beauty

Other Nominees: The Cider House Rules, The Green Mile, The Insider, The Sixth Sense

What Should Have Won: For once, the winner was the choice of all.

 

2001

Winner: Gladiator

Other Nominees: Chocolat, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Erin Brockovich, Traffic

What Should Have Won: Traffic! The Academy loves epics and as it had been a while since one was crowed, destiny favoured Gladiator. Unfortunately, the film of the year was Traffic and it won 4 Oscars of its own including best director for Steven Soderbergh. The only Oscar Traffic lost was the best picture prize and it’s a crying shame.

 

2002

Winner: A Beautiful Mind

Other Nominees: Gosford Park, In The Bedroom, The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring, Moulin Rouge!

What Should Have Won: The Fellowship Of The Ring! Academy has not once honoured a fantasy film with its best picture prize and many credit the omission to an ageing membership base who are out of touch with modern day filmmakers. Most were united that The Fellowship was the standout of a dull year but it couldn’t get over the line. The Academy preferred to praise director Ron Howard and A Beautiful Mind (perhaps since Howard should have won back in 1996 for Apollo 13).

 

2003

Winner: Chicago

Other Nominees: Gangs Of New York, The Hours, The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers, The Pianist

What Should Have Won: The Pianist! It won the Palm D’or at Cannes which says it all. It won the best actor Oscar. It won the best screenplay Oscar. It won the best director Oscar. But nope, it somehow didn’t win the big one. Academy members were gotten to by Miramax again who promoted the fact that a musical had not won in a long time and in the post September 11 era, comedies and musicals were the in thing.