Do you think Polanski really prevailed just because the academy wanted to use the occasion to formally forgive him for his 1977 sex scandal? If they were so inclined to do so, the timing was perfect. Just as final ballots were mailed to academy members, Polanski's rape victim appeared on TV shows to announce she'd forgiven him and she gave Oscar voters permission to cast their ballots for him.
Writing in the L.A. Times, Samantha Geimer said, "I believe that Mr. Polanski and his film should be honored according to the quality of the work. What he does for a living and how good he is at it have nothing to do with me or what he did to me. I don't think it would be fair to take past events into consideration."
Often Oscar voters dole out awards as hugs rather than as honest declarations of movie greatness. Katharine Hepburn didn't deserve to win best lead actress of 1967 for "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" — in which she had an unremarkable supporting role — but academy members wanted to console Spencer Tracy's de facto widow soon after his death. Elizabeth Taylor got a golden statuette for best tracheotomy of 1960 and because Hollywood finally forgave her for swiping Eddie Fisher from Debbie Reynolds. Taylor won her statuette for "Butterfield 8," which she hated so much that she denounced it with profanity that can't be published here.
Nicole Kidman didn't deserve to win an Oscar for one big hambone scene in a plastic nose in "The Hours," a film so awful that it was blasted (correctly) as the worst of 2002 by Time, New York Daily News and Newsday. But she won best actress for a terrible supporting role because Hollywood wanted to give a comforting embrace to the recently cast-off wife of the town's box-office king.
Also vote in our poll: What do you think is Roman Polanski's greatest film?
Photo: Francesca Ruggieri / European Pressphoto Agency