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Worst Oscar choices


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I recently watched In the Name of the Father and checked to see how many Academy Awards it was nominated for, and whether or not it won any. I thought Pete Postlewaith was absolutely fabulous in this film, and was sorry to see that his performance was over-looked in favor of Tommy Lee Jones' for The Fugitive. Maybe Jones' performance has been tainted for me over the years, because he seems to have played the same character in every movie since, including the upcoming Man of the House.

Speaking of In the Name of the Father, apparently the British government made an official apology to the Guilford Four, the people who were wrongly jailed for several IRA bombings. Story here.

Edited by Baal_T'shuvah

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
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I recently watched In the Name of the Father and checked to see how many Academy Awards it was nominated for, and whether or not it won any.  I thought Pete Postlewaith was absolutely fabulous in this film, and was sorry to see that his performance was over-looked in favor of Tommy Lee Jones' for The Fugitive.  Maybe Jones' performance has been tainted for me over the years, because he seems to have played the same character in every movie since, including the upcoming Man of the House.

Speaking of In the Name of the Father, apparently the British government made an official apology to the Guilford Four, the people who were wrongly jailed for several IRA bombings.  Story here.

Thanks for that link, John - In the Name of the Father became one of my new favorite films when I saw it about six months ago. (I mentioned it a while back in the "What did we miss -Top 100" thread as a good contender for one of the most spiritual films.) I agree that Postlewaith was great. And Daniel Day-Lewis. And Emma Thompson. And Sheridan's direction and screenplay.

And yet it went home empty (or did it win a minor award or two?).

Tommy Lee Jones' win goes back to what Alan mentioned earlier in this thread about the Oscars' biggest weakness being sentimentality. The acting awards especially are so often consolation prizes for earlier snubs, or longevity awards for veteran actors. Jones' performance in The Fugitive was fine, but pretty standard IMO. He most likely got it because he didn't win two years earlier for JFK (when the supporting actor award went to .... Jack Palance, for City Slickers. eek.gif )

"The most important thing is that people love in the same way. Whether they are monarchists, republicans, or communists, they feel pain in the same way, as well as hatred, jealousy, fear, and fear of death. Whether you are a deeply religious man or an atheist, if you have a toothache, it hurts just the same." - Krzysztof Kieslowski

"...it seems to me that most people I encounter aren't all that interested in the arts. Most of the people who are my age ... appear to be interested in golf, fertilizer, and early retirement schemes.... I will stop caring passionately about music, books, and films on the day that I die, and I'm hoping for Top 100 album polls in the afterlife." - Andy Whitman

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Way too obvious: How Green Was My Valley takes the award for best picture over Citizen Kane. Did it win a best director statue, too? Have to admit that I've never seen HGWMV, but c'mon, seriously??

Of course, we know that Hearst had a lot to do with all of that. dry.gif

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Denzel Washington winning Best Actor is wonderful.

But winning it in 2002 for Training Day is, I believe, such lunacy as to irrevocably taint the very fibres of all that exists upon God's green earth.

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What are you talking about? He was GREAT in that role -- and it was such a change of pace for him, just as Dianne Wiest's Oscar-winning role in Bullets over Broadway was a major change of pace from her typically more simpering roles. Change-of-pace roles are often how actors prove that they know how to, y'know, ACT, and that they aren't just BEING THEMSELVES all the time.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Nope, I disagree. He was no "greater" than any other cop-gone-bad-chewing-the-scenery leading man I've seen in the last ten years. I found absolutely nothing remarkable about him OR the film except for the gargantuan suspension of disbelief it requested of its audience.

Change-of-pace roles are often how actors prove that they know how to, y'know, ACT, and that they aren't just BEING THEMSELVES all the time.

Thanks for the tip. I'll try to remember it when I go back and look at the other twenty-five roles that he 'changed pace' for previous to the gratuitous garbage they finally gave it to him for.

I put the adjective 'wonderful' in reference in him winning an Oscar for a reason: he deserved one a long time ago. But that movie? You would give it to him for that over allllll those other roles he played...welp, not me. Beg to differ.

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I put the adjective 'wonderful' in reference in him winning an Oscar for a reason: he deserved one a long time ago. But that movie? You would give it to him for that over allllll those other roles he played...welp, not me. Beg to differ.

Didn't he win for Glory? Or are you merely saying he deserved to win a Best Actor a long time ago?

Yup, that's what I'm saying. And yup, he won Best Supporting Actor for Glory.

He was nominated for Best Actor for Malcolm X and The Hurricane; Al Pacino won for Scent of a Woman and Kevin Spacey for American Beauty those years, respectively.

As far as his performances go, he's turned in quite a few pieces of work that outshine Training Day, for multifaceted character dynamics and emotional catharses alike--even if only in brief scenes. For me, Alonzo Harris was more caricature than character, a resounding gong that started at one level (intense) and ended at that level (intense) save for a few eddies in the degree of intensity thrown between--a two hour version of 'The Shield.'

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Jason Bortz wrote:

: I put the adjective 'wonderful' in reference in him winning an Oscar for a reason:

: he deserved one a long time ago. But that movie? You would give it to him for that

: over allllll those other roles he played...welp, not me. Beg to differ.

No, if I had to say which of his performances was the best, I probably would not go with Training Day, any more than I would say Scent of a Woman was Al Pacino's best role, or Gladiator was Russell Crowe's best role. But, I'd rather he win it for THAT than not at all.

kenmorefield wrote:

: Hamlet for best adapted screenplay. (I mean Branagh made such a big deal out of

: not changing a single word...)(Nomination, I don't think he won)

He didn't change any of the DIALOGUE, true. But there is more to a screenplay than that.

: Tom Hanks over Liam Neesom. Listen, I like Hanks, but can't we just be honest and

: say that this was a PC award intended to honor AIDS victims rather than honor

: Tom Hanks in a year when all the ink was going to Schindler's List?

I don't think giving an award to a Holocaust movie is particularly less PC than giving an award to an AIDS movie. In this case, Hanks had the added benefit of playing someone with an illness or ailment -- an approach that also worked for My Left Foot's Daniel Day-Lewis, etc.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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kenmorefield wrote:

: Tom Hanks over Liam Neesom. Listen, I like Hanks, but can't we just be honest and

: say that this was a PC award intended to honor AIDS victims rather than honor

: Tom Hanks in a year when all the ink was going to Schindler's List?

I don't think giving an award to a Holocaust movie is particularly less PC than giving an award to an AIDS movie.  In this case, Hanks had the added benefit of playing someone with an illness or ailment -- an approach that also worked for My Left Foot's Daniel Day-Lewis, etc.

Speaking of overlooked Denzel Washington roles, I'd argue that Denzel gave the better performance of the 2 leads in Philadelphia, and yet he wasn't even nominated for his role. I'd also say that he was better than Liam Neeson. But if I were to have make a choice of the five nominees from 1993, then I'd again go back to In the Name of the Father and give it to Daniel Day-Lewis.

It's interesting to note that both of Hanks' awards are for characters that had illnesses or ailments.

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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For those of you, like myself, who aren't able to remember names or films once the night is over...

A Helpful Searchable database of Past Winners & Nominees

I, for one, love LA Confidential. Kim Basinger was excellent in it too, about the only other person that was nominated alongside her that year that even contended was Julianne Moore for Boogie Nights which was, admittedly, an amazing performance of a very difficult character.

One thing I think people forget about that film is that it is a story about LA. Perhaps this isn't focussed on as much as people recently have with Gangs of New York because it is a more contemporary setting. As opposed to GoNY it manages to weave a complex plot into the history of the city and is a wonderful elegy to the stories of the people that disappear beneath the city's powderpuff veneer of glamour. Anyone read the novel? I always highly recomend James Ellroy's work and this is no exception. However, having said all that I have no qualms with Titanic getting best director although didn't deserve best picture.

And as for

The year that disappointed me most is not one that is considered particularly controversial. That was the year that “The Silence of the Lambs” swept the major categories. The better choice for director and picture, I thought then and still think today, was Oliver Stone’s “JFK.” I think “Lambs” is a good film, better the second time I saw it, but not as good the third time around. “JFK” continues to transfix me, although it does seem a bit overblown, in typical Stone fashion. Still, there are worse sins.

I could let you get away with Anthony Hopkins not getting the best actor award but JFK?! Ok, it's a personal pet peev (well... Stone is generally) but it's a big old mish mash of absolute codswallop and all it does is big up Stone's already overinflated ego. Kevin Costner was good though, and I loved Donald Sutherland as deep throat - his performance was nicely ambigious so you're left unsettled but not quite sure if he's just delusional. I wrote an essay on this. As I said: Pet Peev. Not only that though - Silence of the Lambs is an incredible piece of movie making and generically revolutionary. It's so richly layered, and one of the few *big* films that achieves more than just continuity and economic story telling through it's cinematography. I think this film is a vastly different viewing experience for men and women though. But anyway...

My nominations - anything where Scorsese didn't win!

Dances with Wolves (over Goodfellas!)

and lest we forget... Ordinary People (over Raging Bull!)

Can't comment on Rainman over Last Temptation cos I ain't seen the latter yet.

Best Picture: Chicago?! (over Gangs of New York - well, truth be told the Pianist should have won this, and GoNY should have got direction)

Others (best picture category):

Kramer vs Kramer over Apocakypse Now

Forest Gump over Pulp Fiction (or Quiz Show, which I have a lot of respect for)

Braveheart - any of the other nominations are substantially better films.

Shakespeare in Love. Ugh ugh ugh. Elizabeth was rudely overlooked.

American Beauty over The Insider

And I have to say... I'm not sure about Schindler's List either. Personally I think The Piano was a far more interesting bit of film making.

Not even going to start with actors...

"There is, it would seem, in the dimensional scale of the world a kind of delicate meeting place between imagination and knowledge, a point, arrived at by diminishing large things and enlarging small ones, that is intrinsically artistic" - Vladimir Nabokov

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Tom Hanks over Liam Neesom.  Listen, I like Hanks, but can't we just be honest and say that this was a PC award  intended to honor AIDS victims rather than honor Tom Hanks in a year when all the ink was going to Schindler's List? 

IMO, the worse snub was the following year, when Hanks won for Forrest Gump over Morgan Freeman for Shawshank Redemption.

Oh, I also thought that Timothy Hutton's award for Best Supporting Actor was a terrible decision.... because is there any meaningful way shape or form that anyone can claim with a straight face that Sutherland was the lead actor in that film and Hutton the supporting role? The Academy should have slapped down the studio for submitting in those categories.

This is one of the most annoying things about the Oscars, like Jamie Foxx's supporting nomination for Collateral this year when he actually plays the lead character; or two years ago, when Nicole Kidman won best actress for The Hours but had less screen time than supporting actress nominee Julianne Moore. Shouldn't the Academy decide who gets nominated in which category, rather than letting the studio's submissions dictate?

As far as his performances go, he's turned in quite a few pieces of work that outshine Training Day, for multifaceted character dynamics and emotional catharses alike--even if only in brief scenes. For me, Alonzo Harris was more caricature than character, a resounding gong that started at one level (intense) and ended at that level (intense) save for a few eddies in the degree of intensity thrown between--a two hour version of 'The Shield.'

I agree that Training Day was pretty standard, but I thought Denzel managed to make the character multi-dimensional. He was able to almost convince me in several scenes that he was just a good cop using some unconventional methods to get the baddies; with a lesser actor in the lead role it would have been impossible to believe Ethan Hawke's good guy could have been seduced by Alonzo, but I was sitting there thinking, "just do what he says, Ethan!" Such is the moral force behind Denzel's eyes.

Now, the supporting nomination for Ethan Hawke, OTOH, was kind of silly.

But if I were to have make a choice of the five nominees from 1993, then I'd again go back to In the Name of the Father and give it to Daniel Day-Lewis.

Ditto.

I, for one, love LA Confidential.  Kim Basinger was excellent in it too, about the only other person that was nominated alongside her that year that even contended was Julianne Moore for Boogie Nights which was, admittedly, an amazing performance of a very difficult character.

Two-thirds of a ditto. I also thought LA Confidential was great; and Julianne Moore was amazing and complex in Boogie Nights. But Basinger's role could have been filled by any blonde bombshell who happens to look like Veronica Lake. tongue.gif

Silence of the Lambs is an incredible piece of movie making and generically revolutionary.  It's so richly layered, and one of the few *big* films that achieves more than just continuity and economic story telling through it's cinematography.  I think this film is a vastly different viewing experience for men and women though.  But anyway...

Huh? I also thought Silence of the Lambs was terrific movie-making, tarnished only by all the copycat "dark" serial killer flicks that followed. But whaddya mean by a vastly different experience for men and women?

(And just for clarity's sake, since screen names can be deceiving ... you are a woman, right?) unsure.gif

Are you talking about thematic elements, because of the sexism Clarice encounters? Silence doesn't at all strike me as a movie that sparks a lot of debate between the sexes.

FWIW, my biggest beef with the film version was the way it surgically removed some fairly overt references to faith and spirituality that were part of Thomas Harris's novel. E.g, when Clarice's boss in the film tells her, "Your father would be proud of you"; in the book, a subplot has Crawford struggling with his wife's slow death from cancer, facing his own beliefs about life, death and afterlife; when he congratulates Clarice at the end, he says something like "Your father sees you, and he's proud."

"The most important thing is that people love in the same way. Whether they are monarchists, republicans, or communists, they feel pain in the same way, as well as hatred, jealousy, fear, and fear of death. Whether you are a deeply religious man or an atheist, if you have a toothache, it hurts just the same." - Krzysztof Kieslowski

"...it seems to me that most people I encounter aren't all that interested in the arts. Most of the people who are my age ... appear to be interested in golf, fertilizer, and early retirement schemes.... I will stop caring passionately about music, books, and films on the day that I die, and I'm hoping for Top 100 album polls in the afterlife." - Andy Whitman

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whaddya mean by a vastly different experience for men and women... talking about thematic elements, because of the sexism Clarice encounters

spoilers1.gif

To a degree - but it's much more complicated than that. Now I don't want to label anyone as sexist, and I'm not an ardent feminist, I only know how liberating it was for me to watch that film. I've seen it at various stages of my life, and it has consistently fascinated me in a way that I can't say is necesarily true of any other film. You see, when you say "because of the sexism Clarice encounters" I think this is an understatement, and perhaps misinterpretation too. It's not just sexism, it's bigger than that, it understands how it feels to be a woman. This absolutely permeates the film and is reflected exceedingly well in the cinematography. The opening shot is a perfect example - Clarice running in the woods and the camera running alongside her. There's an element of fear there, of stalking, which is emphasised by our prior knowledge of the film's subject matter. Later, in a lift surrounded by men, we gauge her vulnerability - and this is a day to day situation. At the funeral parlour - the shot that cuts to all the men around her watching - those glances are accusatory, demanding an explanation for her presence and crucially they are isolating. These moments are everywhere in the film, the cinematography is largely designed around her point of view and it changes the entire feel of the film. I say it's not just sexism because it isn't something so overt or straightforward as "she's a woman therefore let's make her life difficult," it's much more subtle and not as deliberate. Crucially, it somehow manages to link this everyday subtlety into the horrific crimes commited by Bufalo Bill. I don't know how, it's tied into the plot so intricately that you don't even see it's there, but he's a distorted version of what she encounters every day. The night goggles through which he watches his victims - how he picks them, how he "covets" them (we covet that closest to ourselves), and reduces them to hide - and later watches Clarice is a more sophisticated calculated (and psychopathic) way of doing as all other men have done throughout the film. There are so many details in this film... after his shooting there are suggestions that he was in Vietnam - the helmet and flag on the windowsill, the butterfly decoration twirling round, the night goggles designed to hunt and kill.

I think also a substantial amount is owed to Jodie Foster who made Clarice absolutely 100% real. Which is why any sequel without her will fail. I always find it amusing that people focus on Anthony Hopkins. Sure, Lecter was memorable as he played him, but he's also a more extreme character and easier to imitate. Foster's Starling was absolutely irreplacable. Without her, any Lecter film becomes operatic violence.

Sorry. This reply is a little haphazard. I can't really explain it. More than anything, it boils down to how it FEELS to watch this film as a woman. I'm not sure I am actually capable of analysing that by referring simply to plot points or camera positions. It works on a much more visceral emotive level and I have to say that it rarely rarely happens: recognising one's own experience of being a woman on film.

"There is, it would seem, in the dimensional scale of the world a kind of delicate meeting place between imagination and knowledge, a point, arrived at by diminishing large things and enlarging small ones, that is intrinsically artistic" - Vladimir Nabokov

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Have you read Yvonne Tasker's BFI series entry on Silence of the Lambs, gigi? I think you've absolutley right: Lambs operates differently as both as a men's film and a women's film

Lambs was one of those times when the Academy surprised everyone and managed to predict (or, perhaps, dictate) movie making for the next decade. You can see fingerprints of that film all through the nineties, both in the movies and on TV. To my mind, possibly the *best* Oscar choices the Academy ever made.

Phil.

"We live as if the world were as it should be, to show it what it can be." - Angel

"We don't do perms!" - Trevor and Simon

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Yes I have had a brief peek at it. Although, I have to say that I have a general problem with that series because I find it difficult to appreciate other people's close readings. She does make some very salient points though. Perhaps I should have another look at it.

I'm interested by what you said about how it operates as a man's film. I think I may have narrow mindedly (just because I'm seeing it from my perspective) claimed it a little too much for the realm of women.

"There is, it would seem, in the dimensional scale of the world a kind of delicate meeting place between imagination and knowledge, a point, arrived at by diminishing large things and enlarging small ones, that is intrinsically artistic" - Vladimir Nabokov

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Excellent insights, gigi! I agree that Foster's Clarice is the essential character. (and the inspiration for my favorite female TV character of all time, The X-Files' Dana Scully) Thanks for giving me a whole new way of viewing this movie.

"The most important thing is that people love in the same way. Whether they are monarchists, republicans, or communists, they feel pain in the same way, as well as hatred, jealousy, fear, and fear of death. Whether you are a deeply religious man or an atheist, if you have a toothache, it hurts just the same." - Krzysztof Kieslowski

"...it seems to me that most people I encounter aren't all that interested in the arts. Most of the people who are my age ... appear to be interested in golf, fertilizer, and early retirement schemes.... I will stop caring passionately about music, books, and films on the day that I die, and I'm hoping for Top 100 album polls in the afterlife." - Andy Whitman

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After watching You Can't Take It with You again the other night, I find it hard to believe it won Best Picture, even in 1938. Fine group of actors, but the rewrite of Kaufman/Hart's stage play, although it starts promisingly by upping the stakes, degenerates into belabored dead-horse beating in the third act. Frank Capra is at his least restrained and appears to have lost track of the story about halfway through.

eek.gif

In my opinion, that is one of the best melodramas I have ever seen, bar none. Heartfelt, amusing, original . . . and I disagree that the ending is weak. The last scene in most every melodrama is corny, that's to be expected, and in my opinion, embraced.

I saw the stageplay performed, and I think the increase in scope and scale does the story wonders. The ending of the stage version is far more "in-your-face" than the film version, imho . . .

*has that movie listed in his profile* just thought I'd speak up. smile.gif

That's just how eye roll.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Getting back to this thread... After watching Sunday's award show, it occurred to me that 3 out of the 5 times Martin Scorsese has been nominated for Best Director, he has been competeing with actors who have taken the directors chair. Scorsese lost to Robert Redford for the 1980 Best Director award... lost to Kevin Costner in 1990... and lost this past Sunday to Clint Eastwood. But at least Eastwood has a comparable number of directing credits, and wasn't a first-timer like Redford and Costner.

Curiously, after researching the Academy database, Robert Redford appears to be the first career actor to have been nominated for a directing award (not counting Woody Allen, who casts himself in his own films), and has started a trend that, for better or worse, seems to honor actors turned director. Since his nomination for 1980's Ordinary People, there have been 11 actors nominated for Best Director... and they have won in 7 out of those 11 nominations.

Edited by Baal_T'shuvah

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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  • 1 month later...

In the past couple years, there've been a few Oscar choices that I've resented. Lemme see...

1- The Pianist didn't get its due during the 2002 awards. It got Best Director and Best Actor, but was robbed of Best Picture, which it deserved.

2- Ken Watanabe really deserved to win Best Supporting Actor in 2003. He got jipped big time.

3- Johnny Depp ought to have won Best Actor for his portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow. I know Pirates was an imperfect movie, but it would've been very exciting if the Academy had recognized his performance despite.

4- The fact that Titanic won anything more than technical awards still floors me. dry.gif

-"I... drink... your... milkshake! I drink it up!"

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Tom Hanks is so bad in Philadelphia that it reminds me of pauline Kael's comment that some performances are just so awful that they have to get an Oscar. (She was referrring to John Mills' dire pantomime display in Ryans Daughter). The opera scene reduces me to hysterical laugher to this day. Pacino, one of my favourite actors, comes across as an extraordinary ham in Scent Of A Woman. I don't think either American Beauty or the very similar Good Will Hunting should have got anything. And it's amazing that back in 1956 The Searchers didn't even get a nomination. Lost In Translation is way superior to Return Of The King but epics do well at Oscar time I suppose. Goodfellas should have won best picture Oscar. I agree with the opinion that Denzel Washington was just formula maverick cop in Training Day, I kept waiting for the depth which never came.

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  • 1 month later...

I'm probably going to have tomatoes thrown at me for saying this, but I really didn't think Black Hawk Down was well-edited at all, much less that it deserved an Oscar for film editing. I spent most of the movie wondering who was who and who got shot and whether the good guys were winning or not. To this day I don't remember anyone other than Josh Hartnett and Ewan McGregor actually being in the movie. Maybe the editors were actually going for a "fog-of-war" type effect, but it really hindered my enjoyment of the film.

~Mark

"We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of the dreams." - Willy Wonka

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  • 4 weeks later...

"But winning it in 2002 for Training Day is, I believe, such lunacy as to irrevocably taint the very fibres of all that exists upon God's green earth."

How very true, I usually like Denzel but he did not deserve an Oscar for Training Day or for Glory(Morgan Freeman did). His performance in Philadelphia allowed it to be simply a bad film, rather than an after school special.

I found everything about the Sixth Sense far superior to American Beauty, the same for Traffic over Gladiator and LA Conf. over Titanic and Fargo over English Patient.

Bardem in before Night Falls, way over Crowe in Gladiator.

I'm not a Kevin Costner hater at all, but .....Dances with Wolves?

I'm a huge Adrien Brody fan, but I didn't find his understated role in the Pianist to be demanding at all. He is much better in the deeply flawed Harrison's Flowers.

Jamie Foxx is great, but Don Cheadle carried Hotel Rwanda the way Foxx carried Collateral. With all the admoniton Hopkins gets for Lamb, I though Nolte in Prince of Tides was better(if one can block out Barabara Streisand's direction).

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  • 2 years later...

EW.com has a list of their choices for top 100 Oscar snubs, nominations that never (but should have) happened.

Their top 10 picks are as follows...

10. Dennis Hopper - Blue Velvet

9. Marilyn Monroe - Some Like It Hot

8. Judy Garland - The Wizard of Oz*

7. John Cazale - The Godfather Part II

6. Susan Sarandon - Bull Durham

5. Samuel L. Jackson - Jungle Fever

4. Ingrid Bergman - Casablanca

3. Cary Grant - The Philadelphia Story

2. Anthony Perkins - Psycho

1. Jimmy Stewart - Vertigo

*Garland was given a statuette for outstanding performance as a screen juvenile for her work in "Oz", and other films.

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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