This year’s Academy Awards are just around the corner (well, okay, they’re still a week and a half away, so it’s more like around the corner, down a little, second door on the left), and while we can’t help but get a little excited about Hollywood’s big night, we’re also being very careful to keep our expectations in check. We’ve already lamented the many worthwhile films and performances that were unduly snubbed by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at the nominations phase; when Sunday the 26th rolls around, you can bet the farm that the AMPAS will confound us again by making at least a couple of spectacularly bone-headed choices. There’s a long and storied history of the Oscar simply going to the wrong damn person or movie, countless cases where a peek back at the list of nominees and the eventual winner provokes confusion, rage, or at the very least, a bit of head-scratching. After the jump, we’ve gathered ten of the most egregious examples.
BEST ACTOR WINNER 1998: Roberto Benigni (Life Is Beautiful)
WON OVER: Edward Norton (American History X), Ian McKellen (Gods and Monsters), Nick Nolte (Affliction)
Good God in heaven, where do we even start with Life is Beautiful? It was bad enough that writer/director/star Roberto Benigni’s soppy attempt to make his own Day the Clown Cried rode the unstoppable Miramax Oscar-buying machine to statues for Best Foreign Film and Best Score; Benigni’s insufferable, mug-tastic performance winning Best Actor was a bridge too far. Going home empty-handed that evening were Edward Norton, whose fierce and unforgettable turn in American History X is one of his best; Sir Ian McKellen, who was subtle, understated, and unforgettable as closeted Hollywood director James Whale in Gods and Monsters; and Nick Nolte, burying his customary tics and affectations in the complex portrayal of a wounded son in Affliction.