So, I’ve been watching a lot of 90’s films lately as I’m trying to wrap up my Fisti Awards for the 90’s and so I decided to dedicate my Tuesday Top Ten to the decade in question. What is so great about the 90’s is that, with regards to Oscar, there were a lot of surprises. 1998 in particular gave us four Oscar acting wins that no one predicted. So this got me thinking, what were the biggest ‘F-You’s of the 90’s? This is more than a mere surprise, this is a giant WTF that took everyone by surprise or could be perceived, in hindsight, as a giant mistake. Now, these aren’t wins that I particularly disagree with or agree with (there is a solid mix of both actually), but this Top Ten is based more around what these particular wins (and snubs) meant for the losers in question. I also tried to think about F-You's that stung hardest in the 90's, which is why Roger Deakins didn't make the list. Yes, he was snubbed in the 90's, but this really didn't become such a huge F-You until those snubs continued to happen and the 00's took over and then this new decade came and brought more losses.
So, without further ado, the list:
|#1 ~ Ang Lee|
It’s weird to think that Ang Lee, who has TWO Directing Oscars was ever in contention for an Academy ‘F-You’, but back in 1995 the world made a collective gasp when he wasn’t nominated for Best Director. The film was nominated seven times and even won an Oscar, but despite getting two actors nominated, snagging a screenplay win and landing on the Best Picture ballot, he was snubbed in favor of both Tim Robbins and Mike Figgis, neither of which managed to get their films nominated for Best Picture. Now, I’m not one who ever feels that your BP and Directing lineups have to match. In fact, look at the Fistis and you’ll see that that rarely if ever happens. Still, Lee managed Directing nominations from Globes, BAFTA and the DGA and even won the NBR and when you consider the work he actually had to put into this film (working with animals is NOT easy) it seems a real shame that his tremendous work in the director’s chair went unrewarded.
|#9 ~ Ed Harris|
Like I mentioned, the 90’s gave us a slew of surprises, especially in the acting categories. That is because there seemed to be no consensus when the awards bodies were handing out their awards. In 1995, Supporting Actor was a true race between Pitt, Harris and Spacey and in 1998 the un-nominated Murray waltzed through critics’ prizes with Ed Harris speculated to take the Oscar, until James Coburn won in a complete shock for his work in ‘Affliction’. Poor Ed Harris. He’s been in this business for years and has come close to winning the actual Oscar a few times but is always passed over. I am more than fine with this statistic, since I’m usually NOT a fan of his work, but when you’ve been praised for so many years and come close so many times I’d think it would feel like a giant ‘F-You’ in your face, especially when the actual winner is somewhat out of the blue.
|#8 ~ Burt Reynolds|
Apparently it’s easier to take Robin Williams seriously than Jim Carey. Talk about a comedian who has been embraced wholly by Oscar, Williams was on his fourth Oscar nomination when he won for ‘Good Will Hunting’. Why, you may ask, is this even being contested then? Well, Burt Reynolds was also nominated, and all year he had been the favorite to actually win the Oscar. He won the Globe and raked in the critics’ awards, and despite losing the BAFTA and the SAG many thought that he was going to make good on his first Oscar nomination. Sorry buddy, but Oscar preferred to reward the comedian turned dramatic actor in the mundane bore of a film that ran away with all of Oscar’s love.
|#7 ~ Everyone Else Nominated for Best Actor in 1998|
How the fuck did this happen? Yes, he won the SAG and so it should have been at least remotely considered, but I don’t think ANYONE actually thought that Benigni was going to win the Oscar. Still, he stumbled over chairs and actor’s heads and bumbled like an idiot while he thanked the world for his success. Poor Edward Norton, Tom Hanks, Nick Nolte and Ian McKellen. Four tremendous performances all far more deserving than this dreck and yet none of them standing a chance. Where is Jim Carey when you need him?
|#6 ~ Jim Carey|
Yeah, this happened. I know that Jim Carey isn’t the actor you think of when you think ‘Oscar caliber’ and yet there are many actors who shift their comedic weight in the director of drama to secure the approval and accolades of their peers. Carey did that in 1998 to a rousing success and a slew of praise. In fact, he was the favored actor for the Oscar that year, snagging the Globe and being heavily predicted to win the Oscar…until he wasn’t even nominated! Some have blamed his seemingly arrogant Globe’s speech for this, but I just think Academy members had a hard time taking him seriously. This is sad, since he was a million times more deserving than the actual Oscar winner.
|#5 ~ Farewell My Concubine|
The foreign film category itself is a hotbed of ‘F-You’s mostly because the surprises never seem to stop and a consensus never seems to form, but this particular snub is incredibly annoying, not only because ‘Farewell My Concubine’ was one of the best films of the entire film year but because the consensus HAD been formed and the film won EVERYTHING except the Oscar.
|#4 ~ Madonna|
I love this particular ‘F-You’ because it is twofold. First, she wasn’t even nominated despite winning the Globe, but the biggest ‘F-You’ comes in the form of Frances MacDormand winning the Oscar because Madonna actually beat her at the Globes. “Nope, we’re not going to nominate you, but hell, we’ll give the Oscar to that actress who lost the Globe to you!” Going on to award the film for a song that Madonna didn’t even write was icing on this delicious cake of snobbery!
|#3 ~ Winona Ryder|
First, I just want to say that I agree with this particular F-You. Not that I don’t like Ryder’s performance, but I just happen to prefer Paquin’s. Still, this is a HUGE F-You to Ryder, and I’ll tell you why. Oscar loves awarding the princess. Look at wins for Jennifer Lawrence and Anne Hathaway last year. If you are a bankable starlet and you deliver in a lauded performance then Oscar usually hands you the golden man, even if you weren’t the best in the field. Oscar loves the pretty young thing who stretched her acting chops. Ryder received those kind of reviews and she had won the Globe and was ready and willing to be crowned by Oscar. Then they went with the kid. I don’t think ANYONE saw that coming, and it makes the snub even more shocking and hurtful. Maybe it was this very moment that pushed Ryder into her career decline and turn to robbery.
|#2 ~ Martin Scorsese|
‘Goodfellas’. Now this is a film that many today consider to be a masterpiece. Still, despite generating a love of love, support, buzz and racking up the Oscar nods, it only won ONE Oscar. It wasn’t for Martin Scorsese. Nope, despite winning the BAFTA and a slew of critics’ awards, Scorsese was snubbed at the Globes and lost the DGA and wound up watching his assumed Oscar get handed to Kevin Costner! While it probably should have been expected at the time, the general consensus is that this is a horrific snub. When you consider what Scorsese has done with his career, and what Costner has done with his, I would have to agree. BUT, what makes this an even BIGGER ‘F-You’ is that just ten years earlier Scorsese lost this very same award to another actor trying his hand at direction; Robert Redford. Guess what; the world considers that a giant snub too.
|#1 ~ Lauren Bacall|
You spend your whole career working your hardest to perfect your craft, star in a slew of respected films and watch your co-stars go on to win Oscars while you find yourself NEVER nominated. You become an icon, become considered one of the greatest actresses of her generation and you manage to remain relevant decades after your prime. Then, when all seems for nothing you find yourself finally being handed that Oscar nomination and it is in a field that is considered weak enough for you to waltz away with the Oscar. EVERYONE predicts you and you have come to expect it…and then Oscar finally decides to get it right and award the best in the field and that doesn’t happen to be you and now everyone remembers you, not only for you tremendous body of work but for this:
And this is why she’ll always be number one…on this list!!!