Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

 
News
Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA

Few are begrudging Kate Winslet winning her first Oscar in six nominations for “The Reader.” As the common refrain in Hollywood went last week: “It’s time.”


Yet few argue that her portrayal of former Nazi concentration camp guard Hanna Schmitz is her strongest work. Her performances in last year’s “Revolutionary Road” and 2006’s “Little Children” were more complex and searing, and she transfixed even in her 1994 debut, “Heavenly Creatures.”


So Winslet has joined a long, honorable tradition of accomplished artists who won Academy Awards for the “wrong” movie. Here are 10 more (which are not necessarily intended as commentaries on who actually won in those years):


Martin Scorsese
Won: best director for “The Departed” (2006)


Should have won: best director for “GoodFellas” (1990), “Raging Bull” (1980) or “Taxi Driver” (1976) Scorsese’s work in “The Departed” was expert but far from the groundbreaking status of those earlier classics.


Reese Witherspoon
Won: best actress for “Walk the Line” (2005)


Should have won: best actress for “Election” (1999) She was fine in the borderline-supporting role of June Carter, but her primly ambitious high-schooler Tracy Flick from “Election” is a timelessly hilarious, horrifying creation.


Renee Zellweger
Won: best supporting actress for “Cold Mountain” (2003)


Should have won: best actress for “Nurse Betty” (2000) or best supporting actress for “Jerry Maguire” (1996) Her indelible work in the two earlier movies wasn’t even nominated, yet she won for a performance that seemed right out of “Mama’s Family.”


Randy Newman
Won: best song for “If I Didn’t Have You” from “Monsters, Inc.” (2001)


Should have won: best song for “When She Loved Me” from “Toy Story 2” (1999) or “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from “Toy Story” (1995) Newman was on his 16th nomination when he finally got his statuette, but could you hum a few bars of “If I Didn’t Have You”? Those “Toy Story” songs are essential to the movies.


Russell Crowe
Won: best actor for “Gladiator” (2000)


Should have won: best actor for “The Insider” (1999) or best supporting actor for “L.A. Confidential” (1997) Crowe was the charismatic hero in “Gladiator” but had more going on in “The Insider” and “L.A. Confidential,” as well as “A Beautiful Mind” in 2001.


Al Pacino
Won: best actor for “Scent of a Woman” (1992)


Should have won: best actor for “Dog Day Afternoon” (1975), “The Godfather Part II” (1974) or “The Godfather” (1972). HOO-ahh! This is the classic career-achievement award for a hambone performance. He was better in “Glengarry Glen Ross” the same year.


Paul Newman
Won: best actor for “The Color of Money” (1986)


Should have won: best actor for “The Verdict” (1982), “Hud” (1963) or “The Hustler” (1961) The Academy finally gave Newman a competitive Oscar the year after awarding him an honorary one, but his second go-round as Fast Eddie Felson wasn’t an improvement over the original “Hustler.”


Sydney Pollack
Won: best director for “Out of Africa” (1985)


Should have won: best director for “Tootsie” (1982) “Out of Africa” sure looked nice, but with “Tootsie,” Pollack took an infamously troubled project and made an all-time great comedy.


Sidney Poitier
Won: best actor for “Lilies of the Field” (1963)


Should have won: best actor for “In the Heat of the Night” (1967) or “The Defiant Ones” (1958) When looking at Poitier’s landmark career, does anyone consider “Lilies of the Field” to be the high point?


Charles Chaplin
Won: best original dramatic score for “Limelight” (1972)


Should have won: best director and/or actor for “Modern Times” (1936) or “City Lights” (1931). Talk about catching up late to a guy: Thanks to a quirk in Academy rules, “Limelight” was honored 20 years after it was made. Chaplin’s two most revered films received no nominations.

Tagged as: academy awards | oscars
Comments
Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements

© 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.