Apologies for the slow-down at this blog while I'm distracted with work for our Envelope print section in the L.A. Times. Meantime, while I finish up, let's make more mischief with Gold Derby's infamous series of polls on Oscars Outrages!
Personally, I think that the worst Oscars choice for best picture in modern times was "Braveheart," an unwatchably awful movie full of lousy writing, amateur acting and three hours of flying severed body parts. The reasons it swept the Oscars were twofold: there was mayhem among the precursor awards and, let's be honest, voters suddenly went crazy, as they often do, over a movie helmed by a studly actor-turned-director: Mel Gibson. Kevin Costner's "Dances with Wolves" is another example of this outrageous, embarrassing phenom.
Early in the 1995 derby, it looked like the eventual best-pic winner might be "Sense and Sensibility" or "Apollo 13." "Sense and Sensibility" won National Board of Review, the Critics Choice Award, BAFTA and the Golden Globe for best drama picture. "Apollo 13" was the best-pic choice of the Producers Guild of America and it won the ensemble acting award at SAG. Unfortunately, "Apollo 13's" actor-turned-director Ron Howard wasn't studly and too many Hollywooders cruelly punished him for the crime of once having been America's Dimpled Everyboy, Opie Taylor, when he starred on "The Andy Griffith Show" TV series as a child. Howard won the DGA award in 1995, but wasn't even nominated for best director at the Oscars where "Apollo 13" was up for best picture. Nonetheless, "Apollo 13" was taken so seriously as a contender that lots of top media, including the L.A. Times, predicted it would win.
But something strange happened at the Golden Globes that derailed the whole derby, which was already askew when DGA didn't line up with the Oscar list for best director. Even though "Sense and Sensibility" won best drama picture and "Babe" took the prize for best comedy/musical movie, the director's Globe went to Mel Gibson for "Braveheart," which won no best-picture kudos from any other award groups. Suddenly, Gibson's win set off a juggernaut that quietly gathered momentum as Oscar day approached.
The awards from print critics were split that year: "Leaving Las Vegas" won best picture from the New York and L.A. journos and "Babe" won best picture from the National Society of Film Critics.
Below are the top five Oscar nominees. Which one was really the best?