Not every Academy Awards winner is met with praise and cinematic glory. Some past winners have come as surprises and even major disappointments to the audience, and among these, a handful will go down in history as outright injustices.
Though a surprise victory on Oscar night can be thrilling, it can also deeply upset the viewers at home who’ve picked their favorites. As we gear up for the 2012 Oscars, here’s a look back at some of the most controversial wins in Academy Awards history.
“How Green Was My Valley” Upsets “Citizen Kane” (Best Picture)
Even though “Citizen Kane” has been touted as the greatest American movie of all time by the American Film Institute, back in 1942, it couldn’t even win the Academy Award as the year’s Best Picture. John Ford’s tale of a family struggling to make ends meet in a Welsh mining town beat Orson Welles’ masterpiece to take the honors and become the foremost example of Oscar injustice.
“Ordinary People” Upsets “Raging Bull” (Best Picture)
It upsets people when the film they feel is the best of year doesn’t win the top prize on Oscar night, but when the supposed film of the decade doesn’t win in its respective year, that’s a thing of controversy. Martin Scorsese’s gem about troubled boxer Jake LaMotta earned Robert De Niro an Academy Award for Best Actor in 1981, but Robert Redford’s family drama took the top honor. “Ordinary People” has since gone down in history as the film that stole the Oscar from the best movie of the 1980s.
Marisa Tomei Wins for “My Cousin Vinny” (Best Supporting Actress)
One of the most famous Oscar controversies in recent years came at the 1993 ceremony, when Jack Palance presented the award for Best Supporting Actress to Marisa Tomei. Many theorized Palance had misread the card, mistakenly giving the Oscar to Tomei. In the years since, the actress has gone on to earn two additional Academy Awards nominations.
“Shakespeare in Love” Upsets “Saving Private Ryan” (Best Picture)
The film that ushered in the era of Miramax domination in the awards scene, “Shakespeare in Love,” stole away Oscar glory from the one pegged as the odds-on favorite. Steven Spielberg’s sprawling World War II epic was heavily favored heading into the 1999 Academy Awards, and even though Spielberg took home the award for directing, many still hold onto the disappointment from the top category.
“Crash” Upsets “Brokeback Mountain” (Best Picture)
One of the best examples of the power of Best Picture backlash, the 2006 Academy Awards saw the tides turn away from Ang Lee’s tragic love story “Brokeback Mountain” and toward Paul Haggis’ “Crash” in the weeks leading up to the ceremony. If you need to better understand the shock that occurred, go back and watch Jack Nicholson announce “Crash” as the winner, throw his hands up and say, “Wow.”
The MTV Movies team has the 2012 Oscars covered! Stick with us for everything you need to know leading up to the awards show, and on Sunday, February 26, tune into MTV.com at 5 p.m. ET for our two-and-a-half-hour red-carpet live stream and updates on the night’s big winners. To join the live conversation, tweet @MTVNews with the hashtag #Oscars.