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Bloopers reel: Oscars' greatest raspberries and surprises

As hopeful contenders finalise their outfits for the 92nd Academy Awards, Chris Wasser looks back on some of the biggest upsets to beset the night


Forrest Gump beat Pulp Fiction

Forrest Gump beat Pulp Fiction

Glenn Close has seven nominations without a win

Glenn Close has seven nominations without a win

Sacheen Littlefeather picked up the Oscar for Marlon Brando

Sacheen Littlefeather picked up the Oscar for Marlon Brando

Hitchcock never won

Hitchcock never won

Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny

Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny

Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder


Forrest Gump beat Pulp Fiction

This is it. After months of build-up, buzz and baffling snubs, the 92nd Academy Awards ceremony is almost upon us, finally drawing a line under another noisy and eventful awards season. Weeks from now, we'll have already forgotten who won Best Supporting Actor, but hey, it sure is fun to get caught up in cinema's most glamorous circus.

On Sunday evening, more than 500 feet of red carpet will be rolled out at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California, welcoming the world's most beautiful people to the awards ceremony to end all awards ceremonies. Surprises should be few and far between, but anything can happen on the night. This is, after all, an awards show that has a long tradition of breaking hearts and, indeed, records. Yep, some very strange things have happened at the Oscars over the years. And here's just a few...

The worst Best Pictures

Sometimes, the wrong film takes the gold. We saw it happen last year when Peter Farrelly's overly sentimental, racism-on-the-road drama, Green Book, somehow managed to topple Roma and BlackKklansman for the top prize. Paul Haggis's Crash, Rob Marshall's Chicago and Bruce Beresford's Driving Miss Daisy are just some of the dodgy flicks that have conquered in the Best Picture category.

But the most bonkers win of all is the Robert Zemeckis film Forrest Gump. Do you know which other films were nominated the year Forrest took home the top prize? The Shawshank Redemption and - wait for it - Pulp Fiction. That's one hell of a howler.

What, they've never won an Oscar?

Some of the greatest living actors of all time - think Jake Gyllenhaal, Woody Harrelson, Annette Bening - have yet to win an Oscar. Legends have come and gone without ever getting their hands on cinema's most prestigious prize (Marilyn Monroe was never nominated; Richard Burton acquired zero wins from seven nominations; Alfred Hitchcock was constantly deprived of a Best Director trophy - the list goes on).

The inimitable Amy Adams has been nominated so many times (six) without a win, that there are entire sections of Twitter devoted to Adams' perennial misfortune at awards ceremonies. Perhaps one day, justice will be served.

The king and queen of Oscar bad luck

Sticking with unlucky performers, the record for most nominations without a win in the acting categories belongs to Glenn Close (seven nominations) and the late, great Peter O'Toole (eight nominations).

In 2002, O'Toole received an Honorary Oscar for his achievement in filmmaking - a lifetime award of sorts - to make up for half a century's worth of bad decision-making on the Academy's part. No such luck, as yet, for Ms Close.

The Marisa Tomei Oscar win was real

We might, one day, forget all about the bloke who started the rumour that Jack Palance had read out the wrong name when awarding Marisa Tomei with the 1993 Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her breakout role in My Cousin Vinny.

The foolish man we refer to is US film critic Rex Reed, who kick-started the Oscars' most upsetting myth after Tomei seemingly came out of nowhere - with minimum success in other awards ceremonies - to claim her Oscar.

Plus, Palance's presenting behaviour that night was, erm, a tad odd. Still, the Academy was forced to issue a statement (if Palance had read the wrong name, they'd have swooped in and saved the day) and Tomei later admitted that the entire controversy was rather hurtful.

As for the La La Land / Moonlight fiasco of 2017, well, that's exactly what happens when presenters are, in fact, handed the wrong card. You already know how that one played out.

Marlon Brando declined his Oscar

In 1973, Marlon Brando won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his startling, career-defining role as Vito Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather. The thing is, Brando decided not to show up on the night and, instead, asked Sacheen Littlefeather, an apache actress and activist for Native American rights, to represent him and to read a statement, live on stage, explaining his absence.

It was in protest of Hollywood's portrayal of Native Americans and though Brando's move didn't go down well with everyone, it did make world headlines and was considered a huge step forward for the American Indian Movement. Can you imagine anyone declining an Oscar in 2020? Of course not.

The worst Original Songs

The Best Original Song category is littered with criminal clangers, from Joe Brooks' You Light Up My Life (as featured in the romantic drama of the same name) to Barbra Streisand's The Way We Were (likewise).

But our, erm, personal favourite has to be Stevie Wonder's I Just Called to Say I Love You. Wonder's bestselling single is, arguably, his worst (it was written for the 1984 romantic comedy, The Woman In Red, with Kelly LeBrock), and yet it still managed to beat Kenny Loggins' Footloose and Ray Parker Jr's Ghostbusters theme to win Best Original Song. What a world.

Saoirse Ronan holds a record of her own

One of Ireland's greatest actresses, Saoirse Ronan, has, thus far, picked up four Oscar nominations, receiving her first at the tender age of 13 for her sensational breakthrough in Joe Wright's Atonement. That makes her the seventh youngest Best Supporting Actress nominee in history.

Who is the youngest ever recipient of an Academy Award? That would be Tatum O'Neal, who was just 10 years old when she won Best Supporting Actress in 1974 for her debut turn in Paper Moon. The oldest Oscar winner in history is James Ivory, the acclaimed screenwriter, whose marvellous work on 2017's Call Me By Your Name won him an Oscar at the ripe old age of 89.

Titanic and La La Land are the Academy's favourite films Well, sort of. Alongside All About Eve, Titanic and La La Land share the record for most nominations received by a single film (14). Meanwhile, just three films have won 11 Oscars (still the record number to beat): Ben-Hur, Titanic and The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King (the latter won every Oscar it was nominated for).

The Oscars can last forever…

Well, again, sort of. But the longest Oscars ceremony in history did, at one point, threaten to stretch over two days, with the 74th ceremony in 2002, hosted by Whoopi Goldberg, clocking in at an arse-numbing four hours and 23 minutes. The shortest ceremony in Oscars history (though it wasn't televised) was the very first bash, at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, on May 16, 1929. All 15 Oscars on the night were handed out in just 15 minutes. Now that's how you do it.

Just one woman has won Best Director

Five female directors have been nominated over the years: Lina Wertmüller (1977) for Seven Beauties; Jane Campion (1994) for The Piano; Sofia Coppola (2004) for Lost In Translation; Kathryn Bigelow (2010) for The Hurt Locker and Greta Gerwig (2018) for Lady Bird. But yes, Bigelow remains the only female director to win an Oscar. Madness.

Irish Independent