ByJack Carr, writer at
You are the Princess Shireen of the House Baratheon, and you are my daughter.
Jack Carr

If you have any kind of social media account and/or you're a human being who left their cave today, you probably spent the hangover from the 2017 either crying hysterically or whooping triumphantly about the shock victory of over in Best Picture, and the premature false crowning of one film before the statuette was literally snatched away by the other.

It was both horrifying and brilliantly befitting of a ceremony which awards high drama, but it was far from being the only shock result in Oscars history. Was Moonlight's win a product of the political climatic under President Trump, or was it simply a reward for being a great movie? Will its achievement be overshadowed by the chaotic nature of what happened on that stage? Do we all have too many feelings right now?

More Oscars 2017:

Time will tell, but it might not heal the wounds, as these ten examples of previous shock Best Picture or Best Director wins ably demonstrate.

1. When 'Cabaret' Beat 'The Godfather' (Best Director, 1973)

If you asked any ten regular people on the street to name the best movie ever made, chances are at least one would go for The Godfather — and sure, Frances Ford Coppola's mafia epic won Best Picture in 1973, but the fact that it lost to Bob Fosse's musical Cabaret in Best Director remains a bit of an injustice.

2. When 'Rocky' Beat 'Taxi Driver' (Best Picture, 1977)

Choosing between these two beasts of '70s cinema is kind of impossible, and in any other year Rocky would be an overwhelming favorite, but in '77 there was a feeling that Taxi Driver had been robbed. In the battle of De Niro vs. Stallone in Best Actor, both men lost out to Peter Finch of Network. Tough year.

3. When 'Forrest Gump' Beat 'Pulp Fiction' (Best Picture, 1995)

"Yo, Forrest Gump, I'm really happy for you, I'ma let you finish, but Pulp Fiction was one of the best pictures of all time! One of the best pictures all time!"

— Me, 1995, aged 4.

4. When 'The English Patient' Beat 'Fargo' (Best Director & Picture, 1997)

Sometimes a shock win doesn't actually feel like a shock at the time — it's only looking back that the ridiculous nature of it reveals itself. The Coen Brothers' Fargo is still considered one of the best modern noirs and one of the funniest black comedies ever made. Does anybody even remember The English Patient, though?

5. When 'Shakespeare In Love' Beat 'Saving Private Ryan' (Best Picture, 1999)

These days, Shakespeare In Love is considered the textbook example of a movie sweeping the major categories at the expense of a better movie, in this case Saving Private Ryan. Spielberg got Best Director, but the 16th century fictional romance starring Gwyneth Paltrow nudged out the war epic in Best Picture, and people are still not over it.

6. When 'A Beautiful Mind' Beat 'Moulin Rouge!' (Best Picture, 2002)

Russell Crowe gives one of the best performances of his career in A Beautiful Mind (and lost out in Best Actor to Denzel Washington), but the film itself was victorious in Best Picture, at the expense of Baz Luhrmann's tragic, highly acclaimed musical Moulin Rouge! Despite losing out, Luhrmann's film is generally considered the bigger classic today. Nicole Kidman didn't win Best Actress, either. Basically, 2002 was a bad year to be a terminally ill cabaret star.

7. When 'Chicago' Beat 'Gangs of New York' (Best Picture, 2003)

2003, on the other hand, was a brilliant year to be a cabaret star, as proven by the dazzling musical Chicago's Best Picture win. Unfortunately, that robbed Gangs Of New York of a trophy, which was a bit of a shocker considering the Academy usually goes for the more serious movie.

To complicate matters, neither won for Best Director — that gong went to Roman Polanski instead, who was (and remains) a fugitive, unable to return to the US without being arrested. Harrison Ford accepted the Oscar on Polanski's behalf, and the director got a standing ovation in his absence, but many would argue passionately that it was Scorsese who deserved the Best Director statuette.

8. When 'Crash' Beat 'Brokeback Mountain' (Best Picture, 2006)

Crash is one of the most contentious Best Picture winners ever, having been variously described as a masterpiece, culturally and racially insensitive, and, by The Atlantic, as "the worst movie of the decade." It was a bold choice of winner in a year in which Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain (which won Best Director) was widely predicted to make a clean sweep, and Crash is not particularly well loved a decade on.

9. When 'Spotlight' Beat 'The Revenant' (Best Picture, 2016)

The Revenant went into last year's Oscars with a huge 12 nominations, and of course memorably gave Leonardo DiCaprio his first, long-overdue win. Pretty much nobody imagined that the low-key story of a team of journalists investigating sex abuse in the Catholic church had the mass appeal to beat Leo being mauled by a bear, but Spotlight came through and took home gold for Best Picture.

10. When 'Moonlight' Beat 'La La Land' (Best Picture, 2017)

And finally, this year's Best Picture chaos resulted in Moonlight going home with the ultimate prize, despite La La Land sweeping up elsewhere and winning Best Director. Unlike some shock wins, though, this one is guaranteed to become a pop culture staple and should result in Moonlight being considering a triumphant underdog rather than an undeserving Oscar-snatcher.

Which were your most and least deserved Best Picture upsets?


Latest from our Creators