In 2020 the 92nd Academy Awards happened. Over the past 92 Academy Awards ceremony, there have been upsets and surprises, both good and bad. Going through the major categories, I will give my take for the best and worst upsets in Oscar history.
Best Upset: Rocky (1977 Oscars)
The quintessential “underdog” movie got the perfect underdog story. A relatively unknown director with relatively unknown actors, and a completely unknown writer and star at the helm of this movie. One could argue this being close to a neo-realist film. At the 1977 Academy Awards, there were classics such as Network and All the President’s Men that led in nominations and wins, and you had Taxi Driver in the running as well. However, on Oscar night 1977, Sylvester Stallone was able to stand tall and scream to the masses, “YO AAADDRIIIAAANNNN”!
Worst Upset: Green Book (2019 Oscars)
There were many different ways I could have gone with this one. Crash over Brokeback Mountain, The King’s Speech over The Social Network, Shakespeare in Love over Saving Private Ryan, but there was something about Green Book’s win, over presumably Roma or BlacKkKlansman, that just has never sat right with me. I do not believe Green Book is the worst ever Best Picture winner, I don’t, but the 2019 Oscars were an overall mess from the start. You had films like Bohemian Rhapsody, which was absolutely riddled with controversy and wasn’t good enough to back it up, take home the most Oscars. When it comes to Green Book, you had much of the same. This is probably why people like Spike Lee and Jordan Peele visibly show their distaste for this win, with Spike Lee leaving as the winner was announced and Jordan Peele giving no ovation. It shouldn’t have seemed all that “out there” for Green Book to win, but the controversy plaguing the film just weeks before the Oscars, seemed to be a killer for the film. Before the Academy Awards, it was recognized that the Shirley family, for which the film is based on, completely denied the film. The only person to even reach out to the Shirley family was Mahershala Ali, who played Donald Shirley. Added in with the fact that some of the people behind the camera were very active in their own right on social media, this seemed to be falling apart. Then you have Roma and BlacKkKlansman, two films that were highly influential and received, get the short end of the stick. It was an interesting year overall, and one that might come up again in future Upset articles, but when you put everything into perspective, I think this is one of the worst upsets there ever was.
Thank you for reading along, and let me know what you think was the Best and Worst Oscar Upsets of all Time!
Jacob is a film critic and co-founder of the Music City Drive-In. He is a member of the Music City Film Critics’ Association and specializes in the awards season. You can find him on Twitter @Tberry57.