A modest proposal re the Oscars.

Many a movie-lover can think of the Oscar selection that made them stop respecting the Academy. For me, it was when Shakespeare in Love won Best Picture over Saving Private Ryan. For older film buffs, or real students of the cinema, it probably happened a lot earlier. I’m no film critic or student of the cinematic craft, but watching Saving Private Ryan not win the Oscar left my jaw on the ground. I think Harrison Ford, who had the dubious (in this particular case) honor of announcing the winner, was a little shocked, too, and had trouble masking it.

I would like to see the Academy create a new Oscar category that would reward long-past cinematic efforts that, in retrospect and in the court of moviegoing public opinion, should have won Oscars. Each year, one of these retrospective Oscars would be given to a producer, director, actor, actress, etc., from a film at least 10 years old, who should have won an award. There’d be just one such award per year for fear of overdoing it, and there would be no requirement that the film, director, actors, actress, etc., was nominated for an Oscar the year it came out.

If nothing else, such a category would help me respect the Academy just a teensy bit more–which is the metric by which all should judge themselves. They can spend the first three years giving Oscars to Saving Private Ryan, The Shawkshank Redemption, and Pulp Fiction. Sorry, Forrest Gump just doesn’t hold up over time for me; it should’ve been a distant third that year.

10 comments

  1. You are aware they do the awards to make everyone feel good, right? Otherwise The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring would’ve won over A Beautiful Mind for the simple fact that (with exception to Best Picture) LOTR had 4 awards and Mind had 3, same thing happened this year: Inception 4 King’s Speech 3. According to some TV show these are the only two times since the ’50s that this has happened.

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  2. Let’s be serious Inception did not deserve the best picture by any means. It was fun to watch (thus the movie won 4 awards related to effects and sound), but lacked a story comparable to The Social Network or The King’s Speech. Honestly Inception might have been the weakest choice of all movies nominated especially if you take plot into consideration.

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  3. Hey there now, do not insult A Beautiful Mind, it is one of the best movies ever. And John Nash is like, my hero. I freakin love that man.

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  4. I was insulting Mind and The Kings Speech, nor saying LOTRs and Inception deserved it, all I was saying is the winner of best picture should also win the most awards (Not counting the Best Picture award). I do prefer King’s Speech to Inceoption (in fact most of the nomminees for best picture over Inception, but I did like Inception).

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  5. They already so this, albeit implicitly. Best example I can give is Al Pacino winning for Scent of a Woman. That Oscar was the Academy saying “this is for all of those roles in the ’70s that could have won you 3+ Best Actor Oscars”. I would love to see your suggestion implemented, but I think it would be seen as a knock against the actual winner, plus a tacit admission of error the first time around…don’t see that going over too well with a bunch of movie stars. But I will say my recommendation for the first ‘should have won’ Oscar would be 2008 Best Documentary: based on Franco’s hosting performance it should have gone to Pineapple Express.

    And this may be blasphemy, but I was actually rooting for Shakespeare in Love; SPR mainly struck me as over-wrought Oscar bait.

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  6. Re: “I think it would be seen as a knock against the actual winner, plus a tacit admission of error the first time around…”

    Perhaps. But an awful lot of Oscar recipients give acceptance speeches about how they don’t deserve this, and they wish they could share the award with all the nominees, etc. I say, take them at their word. I for one have absolute confidence that Hollywood stars would be mature and magnanimous enough to share the spotlight 10 or more years after the original ceremony.

    Saving Private Ryan may have been “over-wrought Oscar bait,” but riddle me this: did Shakespeare in Love feature Malcolm Reynolds as the wrong PFC Ryan? No. Check and mate.

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  7. Okay then, first: Johnny Depp wins best Actor in 2008
    2002: Give a three way Oscar to LOTR, Mind and Gosford Park for Best Picture, all three would of won Best picture 4 years our of 5.

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  8. Regarding your original post about Oscars being handed for a shoulda-won-before-but-didn’t role, there are some instances when Mr. Oscar will do just that. The best example I can think of was when Dame Judi Dench won Best Actress for her six-minute (and really, not that much of a part) portayal of Queen Elizabeth in “Shakespeare in Love” when really, that was Mr. Oscar’s way of saying that she should have won the Oscar for Best Actress the previous year, for her awesome portayal of Queen Victoria in “Mrs Brown”. Of note, John Madden directed both those movies.

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