The ‘Best Picture’ Oscar Winners That Stunned Everyone
These films didn't deserve their Academy Awards — will this year's winner be in the same boat?
Over the years many a film has walked away with the top honor and left the Hollywood community stunned.
When “Rocky” won Best Picture in 1977, for example, it was at the expense of Robert DeNiro’s “Taxi Driver.”
In 1995 “Forrest Gump” took the top prize, leaving not just “Pulp Fiction” empty-handed but “The Shawshank Redemption,” too.
And in 1999 “Shakespeare in Love” beat out “Saving Private Ryan,” for heaven’s sake!
Now, these upsets didn’t benefit films that were undeserving, for lack of a better word — but in many cases the Best Picture Oscar was handed to a film many thought it should not have been. Here are five that fall into this category.
“The Artist,” 2012. Easily the biggest head-scratcher on this list, this homage to old Hollywood — even older Hollywood than this year’s nominee “La La Land,” and with considerably less panache — the “silent French comedy drama” was shot entirely in black and white and nudged Scorsese from a win again (“Hugo”).
The film’s star, Jean Dujardin, later told The Wrap: “I have not yet decided to aim for a career there — I am for the time being in France, I shoot in France, and I do like to shoot in France. If there were a huge opportunity in the States, then I would put in an effort to do it.”
What does that tell you?
“Shakespeare in Love,” 1999. An absurdist yet clever glorified rom-com, Gwyneth Paltrow’s moment in the sun cast a shadow over Steven Spielberg’s star-laden, brutal “Saving Private Ryan,” a film that simply screams “give me an award.”
“Shakespeare” was like an episode of “Three’s Company” on acid.
“Braveheart,” 1996. When “Braveheart” won the Best Picture award, it was for a popular actor vanity piece. Mel Gibson’s epic tale of … well, bravery … bested Ron Howard’s “Apollo 13” — and to this day many are still wondering how and why.
“Dances With Wolves,” 1991. One need not look further than this Kevin Costner opus — and the fact that it bested “Goodfellas” — to get the point here. The Scorsese mob favorite was a shoo-in to win, as was his “Raging Bull” some 10 years before — except that that movie didn’t take the top prize either. (Robert Redford’s “Ordinary People” did.)
Scorcese would later tell The Independent of the experience: “I didn’t really know what I was doing. I just knew what I wanted to do.”
“Driving Miss Daisy,” 1990. This was a sweet, lovable lug of a movie, to be sure. And it is difficult to look back and not see the absurdity of this film beating out “Born on the Fourth of July,” “My Left Foot,” “Dead Poets Society,” AND “Field of Dreams.”
Morgan Freeman’s star was on the rise, and the depiction of the way he tooled a feisty Jessica Tandy around town was … well, adorable. But winning the top honor was enough of a stunner, never mind what it bested to do so.