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Five Oscar misses

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In the annals of Oscar history, few will claim that last year’s “12 Years a Slave” was an undeserving Best Picture winner. The same can’t be said of these Academy missteps. 

1948

Did win: “Hamlet”

Should have won: “The Red Shoes”

There are surely worse Best Picture winners than Laurence Olivier’s “Hamlet,” as the acting legend’s take on Shakespeare’s tragedy is cinema’s finest. But when measured against Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s masterpiece “The Red Shoes,” a hypnotic account of art’s consumption of the artist, there’s no comparison. Dozens of subsequent flicks, including “Black Swan,” are indebted to this technicolor triumph.

1956

Did win: “Around the World in 80 Days”

Should have won: “The Ten Commandments” 

In a year of strong period epics, which also included nominees “Giant” and “The King and I,” “Around the World in 80 Days” was the weakest contender, presumably soaring to victory for its light-hearted accessibility. A better pick would have been Cecil B. DeMille’s biblical spectacle, which, historically, is trumped only by “Ben-Hur” in its genre.

1976

Did win: “Rocky”

Should have won: “Network”

Sorry, Philly, but as inspiring an underdog story as “Rocky” is, Sidney Lumet’s prescient TV-land saga knocks it out cold, standing close to “Citizen Kane” as one of the greatest of all journalism flicks. (In the running that year, as well, were “Taxi Driver” and “All the President’s Men,” which, truth be told, are also better than “Rocky.”)

1994

Did win: “Forrest Gump”

Should have won: “Pulp Fiction”

Sure, we’re still quoting Tom Hanks’s simple-minded, mid-20th-century tour guide, but cinema has been aping Quentin Tarantino’s magnum opus with much more frequency. The original narrative-twisting, pop-culture-loving, modern crime masterwork, “Pulp Fiction” is the most inimitable film to be constantly Xeroxed.

2005

Did win: “Crash”

Should have won: “Brokeback Mountain”

“Brokeback” isn’t quite as good a film as its fans proclaim, nor is “Crash” as bad a film as its haters insist. But rarely has there been a wider divide between what won the big prize and what deserved it. Was it still too soon for the Academy to reward a gay romance? You bet your boots.

Contact the South Philly Review at editor@southphillyreview.com.

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