The Oscars is an annual thing where we take movies that no one would watch otherwise because they’re either too cringe-worthy or remind us too much of normal life, and then we give them awards to make it seem like they’re artistically much better than they really are. The only Oscar sweeping movie I’ve actually had people admit they liked was Return of the King. I think that pretty much sums up the relevance of Oscars in today’s modern society.
Anyhoo, sometimes the Oscars goes beyond the regular “we want to promote this movie so it has to win” formula and you get some surprises in there. It’s no secret at this point that the Academy (they’re the ones that determine who wins an Oscar, hence the capitalized letter) has its favorites and its fairly easy to determine the winners for most categories months before the Oscars are even aired. It’s pretty standard: drama movies are good, movies about something happening in the world today are good, eco-friendly movies are good, white actors are good, Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson are good.
Let’s take a look at some Oscar movies that won an Oscar because the Academy got tired of being very predictable every year.
Cuba Gooding Jr. Wins Best Supporting Actor Over Edward Norton
The reason why this was a surprise is because Cuba Gooding Jr. couldn’t act his way out of a parking ticket while Edward Norton is the genius that was the lead in Fight Club. He was also the least bad Hulk before Hulk was good.
Anthony Hopkins Wins Best Actor
Yes, Anthony Hopkins was amazing in Silence of the Lambs. Yes, he stole every scene he was in. Did he deserve the Oscar, though? If you’re saying “yes”, remember he only had 15 minutes of screen time in that movie.
How Green Was My Valley Beats Citizen Kane As Best Picture
If you were born after the 70s, odds are you’ve never seen both of these films. If you were born and you’re old enough to read this, you’ve probably heard of Citizen Kane, however. It’s universally considered to be one of the best movies of all time, yet it lost the Oscar for Best Picture to How Green Was My Valley.
Babe Beats Apollo 13 For Best Visual Effects
Nothing says “CGI” like “talking pig”, am I right?
Rocky Wins Best Picture
While Rocky was a great movie, it’s hardly a typical Oscar winner. Fun fact: this movie beat Taxi Driver, a movie by Scorsese starring Robert De Niro. Four years later, both of them made Raging Bull, a movie about a boxer. Raging Bull did not win Best Picture (despite being nominated for it), but De Niro did win Best Actor for his role in it.
Beatrice Straight Wins Best Supporting Actress
Remember how Anthony Hopkins was a great actor but didn’t really deserve the award because of his 15 minute screen time? If you don’t, it was literally 4 points above this and you might need to get your brain’s memory center MRI’ed. Anyway, Beatrice Straight won the award for Supporting Actress after a whopping 5 minutes and 40 seconds on screen! That’s not even a full Dream Theater song.
Crash Beats Brokeback Mountain
Talking about Academy favorites: Brokeback Mountain. A movie about gay cowboys trying to make their relationship work. It was supposed to win everything it was nominated for. Yet somehow, Crash won. Well, it was a good movie. In 2015 the Academy revoted on the awards, and they removed their spines and voted for Brokeback Mountain instead.
Anna Paquin Wins Best Supporting Actress At 11 Years Old
This subtitle didn’t even need to add her age to it, the fact that at one point in time Anna Paquin was a good enough actress to win an award (that accent in True Blood gave me more nightmares than vampires do) is already a huge shocker.
Shakespeare in Love Beats Saving Private Ryan
If the reason why this is a shocker needs any explanation, I’m not sure you’re really all that into movies. Harrison Ford was tasked to announce the Best Movie at the time, and even his marvelous Han Solo-face couldn’t hide the surprise when he saw that Shakespeare in Love had won.
Forrest Gump Beating Pulp Fiction in Best Picture
Now, don’t get me wrong: I love both of these movies in ways that are probably illegal. That said, Pulp Fiction – at the time – was something that we hadn’t seen before. Forrest Gump was just the same stuff we’d seen a thousand times before finally done right. In that sense, Pulp Fiction made more of an impact on the art of movie-making than Forrest Gump ever did.