Let the Best Man (or Woman) Win
John Wayne was an icon of Hollywood's Golden Age, but that doesn't mean he merited an Academy Award for "True Grit"—especially when you consider the competition. Click through for 20 examples of Oscars that went to the wrong contender.
Best Actor, 1970
THE WINNER: John Wayne, "True Grit." After 170-plus John Wayne movies, the Academy felt they could finally justify giving him an Oscar when he played the crusty bounty hunter "Rooster" Cogburn. It was the eye patch that did it—even Wayne said so.
THE OSCAR SHOULD HAVE GONE TO:Dustin Hoffman, "Midnight Cowboy." As homeless con man "Ratso" Rizzo, Hoffman gave one of the cinema's best character performances. No eye patch necessary.
Best Actress, 1988
THE WINNER: Cher, "Moonstruck." Cher was delightful in this romantic comedy. But Best Actress? Academy members, snap out of it!
THE OSCAR SHOULD HAVE GONE TO: Glenn Close, "Fatal Attraction." Close says that men still come up to her to say, "You scared the crap out of me." And they aren't just referring to her frizzy hair. On-screen crazy never felt so real.
Best Actor, 1953
THE WINNER: William Holden, "Stalag 17." Holden's cynical detachment provided the right tone for a dramedy set in a Nazi POW camp. But many said he got the Oscar to make up for his "Sunset Boulevard" loss.
THE OSCAR SHOULD HAVE GONE TO:Montgomery Clift, "From Here to Eternity." Frank Sinatra won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for this World War II drama, but it was Monty, as the brooding loner Private Prewitt, who gave the film its emotional center.
Best Actress, 1968
THE WINNER: Katharine Hepburn, "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner." Guess who's coming home with an Oscar? Not the other four nominees, though every one of them was more deserving.
THE OSCAR SHOULD HAVE GONE TO:Anne Bancroft, "The Graduate." Here's to you, Mrs. Robinson. Need we say more?
Best Actor, 1983
THE WINNER: Ben Kingsley, "Gandhi." Sir Ben gave a solid performance as the non-violent leader of the Indian independence movement in British-ruled India. A prestigious English actor in a loincloth—now that spells Oscar.
THE OSCAR SHOULD HAVE GONE TO:Dustin Hoffman, "Tootsie." Hoffman put on a wig, dress and heels to play unglamorous soap opera star Dorothy Michaels. The result was anything but a drag.
Best Actress, 1930
THE WINNER:Mary Pickford, "Coquette." The silent-era star's shrill performance as a Southern belle in her second talkie is one of the worst Oscar-winning performances ever. Pickford had lobbied hard, inviting judges to tea. After her win, voting rules changed.
THE OSCAR SHOULD HAVE GONE TO:Bessie Love, "The Broadway Melody." Winner of the Best Picture Oscar, this backstage look at show biz dealt with infidelity, betrayal and lesbianism, Love's emotionally unfettered performance shines.
Best Actor, 1951
THE WINNER: Humphrey Bogart, "The African Queen." It's a great performance by Bogie, but not his best. That's still "Casablanca."
THE OSCAR SHOULD HAVE GONE TO:Marlon Brando, "A Streetcar Named Desire." Brando owns the role of Stanley Kowalski. So why didn't he get the Oscar? Let's just say actors can never depend on the kindness of Academy voters.
Best Actress, 1955
THE WINNER: Grace Kelly, "The Country Girl." The role of an unglamorous, long-suffering wife of an alcoholic was such a departure from Kelly's image that it wowed the Academy. Groucho Marx called this the greatest robbery since the Brinks.
THE OSCAR SHOULD HAVE GONE TO:Judy Garland, "A Star Is Born." Garland gave her greatest performance in George Cukor's masterpiece and was considered a shoo-in for the Oscar. Kind of like Hillary in the last election.
Best Actor, 1940
THE WINNER: Robert Donat, "Goodbye, Mr. Chips." Donat merited an A for his role as a school teacher who, thanks to the makeup department, ages some 60 years in the course of the film. But three other nominees deserved an A+.
THE OSCAR SHOULD HAVE GONE TO:James Stewart, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." His gangly, humble presence worked perfectly in the role of an idealistic young senator. The filibuster scene is the highlight of Stewart's career.
Best Actress, 1961
THE WINNER: Elizabeth Taylor, "Butterfield 8." Even Liz said this movie stinks. She got the award because she'd just been hospitalized with a near-fatal illness. On Oscar night, Taylor, her tracheotomy scar visible above her Dior gown, whispered her thanks to the Academy.
THE OSCAR SHOULD HAVE GONE TO:Melina Mercouri, "Never on Sunday." Despite Mercouri's searing performance as a free-spiritied prostitute, she went home empty-handed. Sympathy trumps talent.
Best Actor, 1955
THE WINNER: Ernest Borgnine, "Marty." As an Italian-American butcher who lives with his mother in the Bronx, Borgnine gave a poignant performance. Oscar worthy? Yes, but it wasn't 1955's prime cut.
THE OSCAR SHOULD HAVE GONE TO:James Dean, "East of Eden." In this adaptation of John Steinbeck's novel, Dean was brilliant as young man desperate for his father's love. Apparently acting out his own turbulent relationship with his father, he improvised the most emotional scenes.
Best Actress, 1974
THE WINNER: Glenda Jackson, "A Touch of Class." Jackson won for playing a divorcee who has an affair with a married man in this forgettable romcom. The Academy showed little class by giving her the Oscar. Was it the British accent?
THE OSCAR SHOULD HAVE GONE TO:Barbra Streisand, "The Way We Were" Streisand was born to play a fiery activist who falls in love with a carefree WASP. The unlikely chemistry between her and Robert Redford made this a Hollywood classic.
Best Actress, 1950
THE WINNER: Judy Holliday, "Born Yesterday." Holliday was more than a great comedian, she could touch your heart. But look at the competition: This was the most difficult Best Actress Oscar race ever.
THE OSCAR SHOULD HAVE GONE TO:Bette Davis, "All About Eve." As the aging stage diva Margo Channing, Davis created an iconic character. Then again, how can you overlook Gloria Swanson in "Sunset Boulevard"? Oh, hell, this race should've been a five-way tie.
Best Actor, 1965
THE WINNER: Lee Marvin, "Cat Ballou." Marvin is a hoot in the role of Kid Shelleen, a drunken, over-the-hill gunfighter. But Best Actor? Them's fightin' words.
THE OSCAR SHOULD HAVE GONE TO:Rod Steiger, "The Pawnbroker." In this grim black-and-white film, he plays a Jewish Holocaust survivor who runs a pawn shop in East Harlem. Steiger's intense performance is stunning.
Best Actress, 1999
THE WINNER: Gwyneth Paltrow, "Shakespeare in Love." Back then everybody was in love with Gwyneth. So much so, Hollywood gave her an Oscar for being Gwyneth Paltrow.
THE OSCAR SHOULD HAVE GONE TO:Fernanda Montenegro, "Central Station." The Brazilian actress won awards from the New York Film Critics, the Los Angeles Film Critics and the National Board of Review. Only the Academy failed to honor her. Methinks she got burned.
Best Actress, 1935
THE WINNER: Claudette Colbert, "It Happened One Night." She was delightful in this Frank Capra comedy. But it's a role that Jean Arthur or Carol Lombard could have played equally well.
THE OSCAR SHOULD HAVE GONE TO: Bette Davis, "Of Human Bondage." Her portrayal of a slatternly waitress in this Somerset Maugham drama was electric. Yet the young Davis wasn't even nominated. The Academy made it up to her the nest year with an Oscar for "Dangerous."
Best Actor, 1960
THE WINNER: Charlton Heston, "Ben Hur." Although he easily carried the weight of this three-and-a-half-hour epic, Heston's performance was physically rather than emotionally impressive. Still, the winner of the chariot race won the Oscar race as well.
THE OSCAR SHOULD HAVE GONE TO:Jack Lemon, "Some Like It Hot." Lemon was hilarious as Daphne, a sax player in a 1920s all-girl band. When he was on screen, you couldn't take your eyes off him—even in scenes with Marilyn Monroe!
Best Actress, 1965
THE WINNER: Julie Andrews, "Mary Poppins." "I know you Americans are famous for your hospitality, but this is ridiculous," Andrews said, accepting the Oscar for this cartoonish musical. She had a point.
THE OSCAR SHOULD HAVE GONE TO:Sophia Loren, "Marriage, Italian Style." Loren gave the most passionate performance of her career. Had she won, it would have been (how do you say it in Italian?) supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
Best Actor, 1959
THE WINNER: David Niven, "Separate Tables." In this hotel drama, he played a retired colonel who once pleaded guilty to charges of sexual harassment. Niven should have pleaded guilty of stealing the Oscar—he was on screen only 15 minutes.
THE OSCAR SHOULD HAVE GONE TO:Paul Newman, "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." As an alcoholic, repressed homosexual married to Elizabeth Taylor, Newman gives a performance that's as hot and steamy as the Mississippi summer.
Best Actress, 1938
THE WINNER:Luise Rainer, "The Good Earth." Rainer was the first back-to-back winner, having won an Oscar the previous year for "The Great Ziegfeld," and her portrayal of the Chinese slave O-Lan is certainly moving. But she doesn't look very Asian. Maybe because she was German.
THE OSCAR SHOULD HAVE GONE TO:Greta Garbo, "Camille." As the the dying French courtesan, Garbo gave her finest performance. She never won an Oscar, despite three nominations.
Best Actress, 1982
THE WINNER: Katharine Hepburn, "On Golden Pond." This was Hepburn's fourth and final Oscar, though by then she could only play herself. Hepburn's part should have gone to Barbara Stanwyck, who would have finally won a long overdue Oscar.
THE OSCAR SHOULD HAVE GONE TO:Susan Sarandon, "Atlantic City." While Diane Keaton and Meryl Streep won other prizes, Sarandon was left out of the awards-season love fest. But as a disillusioned casino croupier, she was pitch-perfect.
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