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: Robert Benton – Kramer vs. Kramer (1980 Oscars)
Maybe it wasn’t so much of an upset at the time as it may seem in retrospect, this film did win Best Picture the same year, but this small story about divorce and the struggle to house a child in the middle of it was enough to top the Vietnam War Epic that was Apocalypse Now. Just one year removed from giving The Deer Hunter everything it wanted, and more, at the Oscars, Apocalypse Now was Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam War Epic to round out the best decade of his career. Coppola managed to rack up 12 personal nominations total in this decade while winning 5 times, all of the wins of his career. There was a year where he had 2 Best Picture Noms, 2 Writing Noms, and a Directing Nomination all in the same year. In this decade Coppola released both Godfather movies and sparked the conversation of “Greatest of All Time”. However to round out the decade, and usher in the 80s, Robert Benton was able to take down the giant more than once, and claim this win for a sincere and honest look at the struggles of divorce.
Worst Upset: Tom Hooper – The King’s Speech (2011 Oscars)
I will be the first to say, I don’t hate Tom Hooper. I think he is a very fine director, and I am in the minority when I say I love what he did with Les Miserables. However, this win, and this film doing as well as it did, is an outright joke quite frankly. David Fincher, still without a win, made one of the most resounding biographical films of the 21st century. A movie that is regarded as one of the greatest. Not to mention that Danny Boyle wasn’t even nominated this year for 127 Hours, a film that if everything didn’t work would have been a disaster. I mentioned this in my Best Picture Upsets and will mention it again in my Best Actor Upsets because this film truly just got love and praise out of nowhere. I do not hate the film, I think it is a very finely made and acted film, but the wins it got baffles me to this day.
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.