So yesterday the Academy decided to take back an Oscar nomination for original song “Alone Yet Not Alone” due to its composer (a Music Branch executive committee member) internally promoting the song. This was the first time a nomination was retroactively disqualified for alleged campaign malpractice, though we’re pretty sure this ain’t the first time there’s been such a thing (I mean, aren’t the Oscars one giant campaign malpractice?). Either way, the news got us thinking and wishing and bitching… About 10 nominations from the past we wish had been rescinded… Please feel free to post your own in the comments.
“Doctor Dolittle” for best picture
going way back here (please don’t ignorantly think I’m under the
impression the Eddie Murphy version got a best picture nomination), but
seriously, picture it: It’s 1967. A great year for film. And “The
Graduate,” “Bonnie and Clyde,” “In The Heat of the Night” and “Guess
Who’s Coming To Dinner” are all — to varying degrees (“Dinner” isn’t
the greatest, but compared to “Dolittle” its Citizen fucking Kane) —
reasonably among the Academy’s choices to represent it in the best
picture category. And then they nominated “Doctor Dolittle” alongside
it? A little Hollywood history: “Dolittle” was basically 20th Century
Fox trying to match the insane successes of their “Sound of Music.”
Except it went three times over its $6 million budget (a huge number
back then) and was released to bad reviews and bad box office. But Fox
decided to pour a shit ton of money into an Oscar campaign that included
huge, pricey dinners for Academy members. Talk about campaign malpractice (and if you find this interesting, read Mark Harris’ “Pictures at a Revolution” — seriously).
Meryl Streep for “The Iron Lady”
Knott: Obviously Meryl is an acting god. And there was something extraordinary about her rendition of Margaret Thatcher. But only in the same way that there was about the Amy Winehouse drag queen I saw in a club in Havana a few years back. Let’s be honest – this was not an immersive performance in any sense. The acting was impossible to miss, in the worst possible way. I was more impressed by Jim Broadbent’s baffling impersonation of a creepy children’s entertainer pretending to be Casper the friendly ghost. That same year, Viola Davis showed us all how to give a great performance in a bad film. And she was robbed.
Meryl Streep for “August: Osage County”
Knegt: I can’t believe we are back-to-back attacking Meryl! I love Meryl Streep. She is potentially my favorite person living. And I stand by the vast majority of her Oscar nominations (even “The Iron Lady”), and bow down to almost everything she’s done. But not “August: Osage County.” I mean, it was definitely a hoot to watch in a grand soap operatic kind of way, but in a year when Emma Thompson, Julie Delpy, Greta Gerwig, Adèle Exarchopoulos and Brie Larson were all in the running, did the Academy really need to give Meryl nomination number 18 for this over-the-top performance? No.
Renee Zellweger for everything
Knott: It feels like a bad dream, looking back on the previous decade and seeing that Ms Zellweger departed it an Academy Award winner and two-time Best Actress nominee. But it is almost beyond belief that such garlands were for “Bridget Jones’ Diary”, “Chicago” and “Cold Mountain”. Hell, where was the Special Achievement award for “Miss Potter”? I am all for the Academy rewarding non-dramatic roles more often – so I can stomach the first two nominations. But stumbling around on a hillside with a bad accent and a dodgy hat and beating Patricia Clarkson in the process is no fair way to get your hands on your very own golden boy.
Elizabeth Taylor for “BUtterfield 8”
Knegt: Elizabeth Taylor
somehow won her first Oscar for perhaps her worst performance: A super
campy take on a call girl in a film that even she OPENLY hated. In fact, she
only made “BUtterfield 8” because she had to. She was under contractual
obligation at MGM and to be allowed to depart to Fox to make
“Cleopatra,” she made the film under protest to fulfill her
obligation. Her now-famous response to the success of the film, even
after it finally gave her a golden boy: “I still say it stinks.” We
agree, as does the Academy’s bizarre decision to reward it (over Shirley
MacLaine in “The Apartment”!).
“Norbit” for Best Make Up
Knott: Though I suppose I should be praising the Academy for being able to recognize excellence in specific craft categories within the wider context of a truly abysmal film, I expect this wouldn’t have made the cut if it weren’t the work of industry legend Rick Baker. But really – I’ve actually watched that film, and the fact that there should ever be legitimate reason to utter the phrase “Academy Award nominee “Norbit”? Unforgivable.
“War Horse” for best picture
Knegt: “Crash” aside (and I’m
sure one of is going to go there sooner or later here), I sincerely feel
like Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse” is the worst film ever nominated
for best picture. The first year the Academy decided to go on its
“sliding scale” of nominees somehow saw enough #1 votes go to this total
mess. Horribly written, unabashedly sentimental and artistically
old school in a severely lazy kind of way, “War Horse” is only
enjoyable if you pretend that the war horse himself was intended to be read as homosexual. Which I suggest you rent the movie, smoke a joint and pretend to do RIGHT NOW.
That song nobody remembers from “Les Miserables”
Knott: Best Original Song is a category that offers endless potential for bitching. These are the people that took the song widely considered the low point of Stevie Wonder’s career – “I Just Called To Say I Love You” – and promptly handed it a gong. But I’m afraid “Suddenly” deserves it for the sheer laziness of its nomination. How many people remember what this song sounded like, or even who sung it? I’d bet not even half of the voters, who simply weren’t able to nominate anything more well-known from that film which had all that singing in it. Excellent choice guys.
That song nobody remembers from that movie version of “The Phantom of the Opera” that nobody remembers
Knegt: That “Les Mis” nomination reeks of this desperate thing that musical adaptations of the past two decades constantly get away with because the Academy’s music branch are — as we saw yesterday — clearly ready to do whatever the fuck people tell them to do. They take a Broadway musical, whether “Les Mis” or “Chicago” or “Dreamgirls” or whatever, and add one new song that is so ridiculously below the quality of the rest of them just so its technically original and thus they have another Oscar nomination to count on. Personally, the worst example of this is “Learn To Be Lonely” from Joel Schumacher’s take on “The Phantom of the Opera” (which frankly I’d be surprised if too many people remember exists). A horrible song from a horrible movie that somehow ended up the same amount of Oscar nominations — three, actually — as “Inside Llewyn Davis,” “Before Midnight,” “Blue is the Warmest Color,” “Frances Ha” and “Stories We Tell” combined.
“Crash” for Best Picture
Knott: I’ve been called a bitter, hate-filled homosexual a lot on the internet this week, but it’s not this film’s egregious victory over “Brokeback Mountain” that still has me reeling. It’s the very fact that “Crash” got any awards traction at all. From the category that didn’t bring you “Do the Right Thing” fifteen years earlier, we got this pompous, condescending and trite take on race relations in America. Oh Academy, I wish I knew how to quit you.
Oscar Bitchfest is a regular awards season feature between /bent boys Peter Knegt and Matthew Hammett Knott. Check out Knegt’s Oscar predictions over on Indiewire now.