The Oscars – 5 Best Picture winners that the Oscars got wrong

Posted on 3 March 2014
By Craig Kell
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The Best Picture Oscar is a hotly contended and the most coveted gong in the movie industry. We’re taking a look back on five previous Best Picture winners that the Academy should not have awarded.

1. How Green was my Valley over Citizen Kane (1942)

The Oscars were already in their teens when they produced their first surprising Best Picture winner, How Green was my Valley. While there is no denying that Glenn Ford’s sentimental family drama is a pleasant watch, its key win remains a poor one given that it beat Orson Welles’s acclaimed American classic Citizen Kane to the top prize. It’s even more ironic to think that the AFI ranked Kane as the greatest film of all time yet it still managed to lose the Oscar to a film set in Wales.

2. The Greatest Show on Earth over High Noon (1953)

During the 1950s, America was going through troubled times due to the Joseph McCarthy-era with some Hollywood filmmakers being black-listed around that time. But Fred Zinnerman managed to incorporate themes about American’s disillusion into his renowned Western masterpiece High Noon. That clearly put the Academy off rewarding it Best Picture as they opted to give it the accolade to Cecile B. Demille’s epic circus drama, The Greatest Show on Earth instead. Although that film features an incredible train crash, it is flawed by a smaltzy romantic plot.

3. Ordinary People over Raging Bull – Best Picture (1981)

Like How Green was my Valley before it, Ordinary People was another solid family drama that unfortunately suffered from the wrong winner curse. For actor/director Robert Redford, it was a dream scenario for him as his debut flick pulled off an unlikely win. But the fact that it defeated Martin Scorsese’s gritty boxing drama Raging Bull was not appreciated by film fans even to this day. What’s worse, Redford won Best Director ahead of Marty, who would have to wait a long 25 years before finally clinching the award.

4. Shakespeare in Love over Saving Private Ryan (1999)

Five years after his success with the stunning Schindler’s List, Steven Spielberg was looking certain to repeat the feat again with his marvellous WWII drama Saving Private Ryan. But despite the film’s emotionally powerful story and its realistic depiction of war, the Academy found themselves influenced by Harvey Weinstein’s financial power as his historical romance Shakespeare in Love took the coveted award. It was to be the first of many occasions that the producer would influence a Best Picture race.

5. Crash over Brokeback Mountain (2006)

This result shocked that many people that even presenter Jack Nicholson looked bemused after announcing LA-based drama Crash as the 2006 Best Picture winner. Prior to the ceremony, the gay cowboy drama Brokeback Mountain looked a dead cert to land the top honour especially after sweeping at the other awards guilds. But Crash’s unlikely win caused outrage amongst many with some Academy members being accused of homophobia. It just goes to show that even the best films don’t always receive the recognition they deserve.