Stolen Oscars? Pt. 2


The second part of ‘Stolen Oscars?’ commences with 1981. In part one I looked at 10 Oscar-winning movies that, in my opinion, were unworthy. Here are eight more:

Chariots of Fire Blu-ray Review | High Def Digest

1981    Chariots of Fire

Chariots of Fire was not a bad movie, but it was a long way from a great one. Every now and then a little, nondescript picture cleans up. This one looks at a couple of British runners at the 1924 Paris Olympics. Historically, it gets a lot of things wrong, as I discuss in my book Movies Based on True Stories (2015), but it is reasonably good entertainment.

WATCH: Indiana Jones vs The Swordsman in “Raiders of the Lost Ark ...

My choice?      Raiders of the Lost Ark

‘Raiders’ also has its fair share of errors, but what a ride it is! When I first saw it back in ’81 in England, I was astonished by the non-stop action. Thrill stacked upon thrill. No other movie to that time had done this. It was entertainment plus and it is still worth watching.

Gandhi (film) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1982    Gandhi

I suppose it had to happen, (what with the Indian Government refusing to endorse the picture unless the script met with their approval), that this biography would present Gandhi as ‘squeaky-clean’. The result, however, is a sanitized, lop-sided version of history. Kingsley is brilliant but the picture isn’t.

MOVIES, MUSIC, FAMOUS SOULS! on Pinterest | Dermot Mulroney, Blue ...

My choice?      ET –The Extra –terrestrial

When  director Richard Attenborough headed for the podium to collect his Best Picture Oscar for Gandhi he paused to whisper to Spielberg that he should have won for ET, and he was right. This movie was ahead of its time and deserving of more recognition than it received.

Movie Review: Rain Man

1988    Rain Man

The Best Picture Oscar for this picture was more about Dustin Hoffman’s performance than it was for the picture itself, because the picture itself is pretty ordinary. Tom Cruise is good (he usually is), but no-one noticed. It was all about Hoffman.

Hal Ashby - Homepage

My choice?      Mississippi Burning

What a movie! Everybody, and I do mean everybody, in it is terrific. One of the all-time great Hollywood movies so, of course, the Academy members failed to acknowledge it. As usual, they were mesmerized by one of their peers tackling an affliction, so Rain Man kicked a goal. Unforgiven (Snap Case): Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman ...

1992    Unforgiven

Hollywood’s love affair with director Clint Eastwood had to be rewarded, so this OK (but not great) film got the nod. How this western could be named Best Picture while, 36 years earlier, The Searchers could not even scramble a nomination, is something of a mystery.

Show Bitz on Pinterest | Brad Pitt, Val Kilmer and The Godfather

My choice?      A Few Good Men

I cannot think of a single dull moment in this tremendous murder/courtroom drama. It has Jack Nicholson, Kevin Bacon, Kiefer Sutherland and Kevin Pollak, all in great form. Even Demi Moore is good. It also has a top notch performance from Tom Cruise, one totally ignored by the Academy and the critics. Wacky religion/politics aside, the guy is a seriously accomplished actor. About time they cut him some slack.

Octobersky: Movie Moments:

1994    Forrest Gump

Once again the Academy voters confused movie and performance. Hanks was extraordinary so the picture had to be extraordinary as well. It isn’t.

Pulp Fiction Reviews - Metacritic

My choice?      Pulp Fiction

For sheer surprises this film is unique. When I first saw it I kept making predictions about what was going to happen next, yet it was as if the writers anticipated this and went in a different direction every time. Nothing is formulaeic in this fabulous picture.


1995    Braveheart

An action flick, nothing more. Historically, it is as far from the truth as it is possible to get (see Movies Based on True Stories), and after a while the historian in me gives up the ghost. Added to this is the presence of one of Hollywood’s least interesting actors in the lead.

Apollo 13- Soundtrack details -

My choice?      Apollo 13

Ronnie Howard achieves the impossible here. He makes a genuine thriller about an incident in history that we know has a happy ending, and that takes a very special talent to pull off. Needless to say all the performances are terrific. Movie-making at its finest.


1996    The English Patient

Throughout this tedious affair I found myself asking, ‘why did they make it in slow motion?’ I am still at a loss to understand how this boring, snail-paced story could possibly snag the Best Picture Oscar, especially when there was an all-time classic screaming out for recognition in the nominations.

Coen Brothers Developing 'Fargo' TV Series for FX | XFINITY TV ...

My choice?      Fargo

Selecting The English Patient over Fargo is tantamount to selecting an Andy Warhol monstrosity over a Da Vinci. The Coen brothers are never dull or predictable. When they make a movie you remember it. Fargo is one of those pieces that gets better every time you see it.

WATCH: 'Titanic' a must-sea in 3D | New York Post

1997    Titanic

The special effects are astounding. We get to see the Titanic sailing along in the middle of the day with people walking about its decks. We see it go down the plughole in breathtaking detail, just as if we were in a lifeboat watching the tragedy unfold in all its awesome horror. Unfortunately, we are also compelled to watch a ditzy romantic melodrama unfold. And as for having a young first class ‘lady’ of 1912 indulging in a hawking and spitting competition off the first-class deck in broad daylight, well…give me break please. Then, of course, we have the ludicrous situation whereby the lovebirds wallow about in ice-cold water for 45 minutes by my watch before the ship even sinks! Evidently, ice-cold water is only ice-cold outside the ship but not when it is inside.

Hollywood Souvenirs Celebrity Pictures, Prints & Movie Stills ...

My choice?      L.A. Confidential

Everything gels in this excellent murder/mystery based on factual incidents. Whereas Jack’s and Rose’s relationship was utterly unbelievable in Titanic, the characters in L.A. Confidential all seem very real indeed. One of the best tests of the quality of a movie lies in how much we care about the protagonists. In Titanic, by comparison, when faced with the iceberg and Jack and Rose, I found myself unconsciously barracking for the iceberg.

Slumdog Millionaire [DVD]: Dev Patel, Freida Pinto ...

2008    Slumdog Millionaire

Why did this nothing movie win Best Picture? Did someone owe someone money? Mind you, 2008 was a pretty lousy year for movies, but I found two films that were more than passable. One was The Duchess, starring Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes. The other was my choice for Best Picture, although I doubt if anyone other than western aficionados or Viggo Mortensen fans will agree with me.

Worth Watching - Aug 6: Ed Harris' Appaloosa Trailer ...

My choice?      Appaloosa

I admit I am partial to westerns, good westerns anyway, graced by fine actors. Viggo Mortensen and Ed Harris beautifully underplay here. The movie also has Jeremy Irons as an interesting villain and Lance Henriksen in a kind of cameo. The picture is worth watching just to see the interaction between the two stars. Both Mortensen and Harris are perfect as professional lawmen whose loyalty to one another is unshakeable yet unspoken. Superb characterizations.


In part three of ‘Stolen Oscars’ I shall look at individual Oscar-winners I think should not have won.


  1. Just found your website and love it!

    Ok, my thoughts on your Alternative Osars.

    1. Definitely Raiders of the Lost Ark over Chariots of Fire. No question. BIG screw up there.

    2.We part ways with your replacement choice over Ghandi. I could never see what the big fuss was with E.T. didn’t like it then, didn’t like it when I took my son in a re-release. He wasn’t wowed either! LOL…BUT I do agree Ghandi wouldn’t have been my choice. Though not a huge Dustin Hoffman fan, I must say my ALTERNATIVE OSCAR choice, TOOTSIE is a classic. I’ve seen it so many times and think it’s one of the best comedies ever made.

    3.Totally agree RAIN MAN should not have won. Don’t think I would have gone with Mississippi Burning though. That being said, it’s probably more a matter of personal taste than it not being a quality movie. I’m just not a fan of the stars in the movie nor the subject matter. More to my liking would have been:

    Bull Durham or Who Framed Roger Rabbit or Dangerous Liaisons or Working Girl. Anyone of them I’ve seen multiple times. Rabbit was cutting edge technology for its day and manages to entertain both kids AND adults equally which is so hard to do. But if forced to choose, I’d probably go with Dangerous Liaisons, cuz well..I can be snobby about the Oscars just like the next guy! LOL

    4. Totally onboard about giving Unforgiven (though not a bad movie) the heave-ho! But no, I would not replace it with A Few Good Men which DOES have that classic Jack Nicholson moment.You’re more forgiving than I regarding Tom Cruise who I just can’t stand and find a very limited actor…but..that being said, I’d definitely give the Oscar to HOWARD’S END.

    5. I’m not even going to suggest an Alternative to your replacement for Forrest Gump a movie I can’t stand. Saw it three times and each time I was more convinced than ever that it needed to be HEAVILY edited. They just threw WAY too much into the story. A shorter movie would have made it much tighter and more effective. Your choice instead, PULP FICTION, while not perhaps one of my favorite movies of all time, still definitely has enough punch (so to speak) and certainly is NOT like most movies out there. I’ll let your suggestion stand!

    6. Replace Braveheart with Apollo 13? DEFINITELY! Couldn’t agree with you more!

    7. FARGO instead of English Patient? Welllllll….I have to say…I had heard how slow the movie was..Sienfeld famously made fun of it. So when I saw it for myself in the theater I was mentally prepared FOR a slow movie, and because of THAT, I must say I loved the movie. So I’m thinking at times, (not always though) expectations and one’s own mood, can influence reaction to a movie. THAT being said, FARGO is an American classic. Totally agree with you!

    8. L.A. Confidential over Titanic? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I hope not, cuz I couldn’t STAND Titanic! What a god awful movie! I didn’t even research other possible alternatives for this year, because I DID see L.A. Confidential and it was stylish, well produced and thoroughly entertaining!

    Lovin your site!

    • Great comments, Christopher. We seem to agree on a few of my choices but not all, of course. The world would be a dull place if everyone had the same taste. Oddly enough, I don’t like ET either, but it was ahead of its time, I thought. ‘Dangerous Liaisons’ is a good choice. I’ve seen it several times. ‘Howard’s End’ I found deathly dull, but I do like ‘The English Patient’, mainly because I am a big fan of Kristen Scott-Thomas. I LOVE ‘L.A. Confidential’, everything about it. The CGI in ‘Titanic’ was amazing, but the storyline…sheesh! Thankyou for your kind comments.

      • Hey Alan, how cool is it that you responded so quickly! Anyway, still enjoying your site and will probably leave more comments. And I understand not every contributor can have a reply back from you, so no worries on that front – Christopher

  2. Cruise was the one I was watching in “Rainman”. I think it took special skill to play his character the way he did.
    Years ago, saw “Mississippi Burning” and hated it. Knowing FBI wanted
    nothing to do w/ death of 3 civil rights workers down South,the movie
    seemed to glorify the organization. I watched it again, w/out same
    emotion. Hackman, of course is so good, along w/ McDormand. Many scenes are well done; in particular barbershop w/ Hackman and actor,
    playing deputy; the look of absolute terror on his face, swinging
    around in the chair. “Fargo”, “L.A. Confidential”, yes, yes!
    Was impressed w/ “Unforgiven”. Am an Eastwood fan. I never saw “The
    Searchers”, so can’t compare.

    • You and I seem to have similar tastes, Sheila. The guy swinging round in the barbershop chair was Brad Dourif. He made his name in ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’. Good actor. I agree with you when you say that Cruise’s task was specially difficult and he did it really well. Similarly, I have always admired Cary Grant’s acting because he perfected the difficult art of playing romantic comedy and making it look effortless. A rare talent that the Academy regularly overlooked. In about a week’s time I shall be posting a list of all the Oscar winners who played characters with diseases, afflictions or handicaps. There are LOTS of them.

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