AS 2021 is finally here, not a moment too soon, it’s usually time for movie award shows to start showing up starting with the Golden Globes, Critics Choice, SAG, BAFTA all leading up to the Super Bowl of award shows The Academy Awards giving out the most coveted award The Oscar. All the glitz and glamor, all the celebrities and movie stars, all the dresses and tuxes, and all the jewelry and accessories on all the hardest working men and women across the world. If there was a year to skip all the pomp and circumstance that come with Hollywood patting each other on the back this would be the one. But as the saying goes the show must go on and the argument can definitely be made for a little escapism this year as well.
Already this year is going to be different because the Academy has pushed back the date of the show two months to April 25th, 2021 hopefully trying to outrun the current state of the pandemic. Normally the award show is in mid to late February. Although the Academy is hoping for a normal academy award show, there are lots of things still up in the air. How many guests will be allowed inside the 3400-seat Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles? Will the nominees show up? Will your favorite actress be wearing a mask? What about all the talk of new strains of this virus? Will this give the government time to get the Vaccine in to everyone? Will the Vaccine be effective? All these questions are still up in the air and science couldn’t care less about the Academy Awards.
With all of those issues as the back drop for this award season the point of this blog is actually to take a look back at previous awards seasons and pick out our biggest snub made by previous Academy Award shows. Oh Brother will select what we believe is the biggest mistake the Academy has made. Because we want to keep this readable we will pick only one snub in the categories actor/actress, best movie, best director. We’d love to cover every category, but we don’t want this blog to be as long as most Academy Awards shows.
The following snubs are the opinions of us at “Oh Brother” and you may or may not agree with our pick. We’d love to hear your opinions for biggest snub, so please send us an email and let us know.
The Best Actor/Actress for the year 1989 should have gone to:
The Envelop please: The winner and biggest snub in Academy Awards history the Oscar should have gone to Tom Cruise in Rain Man
We have argued about this Oscar snub since it happened back in 1989 and with so many snubs over the years before and after this one still stands at the top of our list. As of 2020 Tom Cruise has not won an academy award, but not for lack of effort. Cruise has a lot of detractors, many of those reasons have to do with how he lives his life, but as long as he is not hurting anyone or breaking any laws we are concentrating on his work and nothing else. Of all the actor/actress/movie/director snubs you may be surprised by our pick. In 1989 the actors nominated for best actor included Max Von Sydow in Pelle the Conqueror, Gene Hackman in Mississippi Burning, Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, Edward James Olmos in Stand and Deliver, and Tom Hanks in Big.
Those were your nominees for best actor in 1989. Great actors, fine performances, but the best actor in 1989 was not Dustin Hoffman. We believe Dustin Hoffman is one of the best American actors of all time, but this was not the year for him to win. The other three acting winners in very tough competitions in 1989 were Jodie Foster in The Accused, Geena Davis in Accidental Tourist, and Kevin Kline in A Fish Called Wanda. We agree with two out of these three and we’ll leave it to you to decide which one we would not have voted for, but a hint we do not disagree with the women winners.
Tom Cruise has been nominated for three Academy Awards for his performances in Born on the Fourth of July, Jerry Maguire, and Magnolia (supporting actor). We could make solid arguments for a win in all of these movies, but since we are talking about Rain Man lets start here. First, we want to point out not only was Cruise not nominated for Best Actor he was not even nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the Oscar winning Best Picture Rain Man. In a past podcast we covered the 3 films to win all 5 major awards and Rain Man almost became the 4th taking 4 out of 5. Only Valeria Golino, who was not nominated for best actress, missed out on giving Rain Man the sweep. She did a wonderful job, but as you can see from the winners in 1989 the competition was extremely tough in both Women’s categories and Rain Man was a story of two brothers over everything else.
Our biggest argument has always been the arc of Tom Cruise’s performance. In the start of the movie he was a cynical car dealing hustler named Charlie Babbit selling high end vehicles to only the richest of clients. When Charlie, on route to a vacation with his girlfriend, gets a call on his car phone (this was 1989) and someone lets him know his father had just passed away he registers a zero on the sorrow monitor. Charlie apologizes to his girlfriend about the weekend and turns the car around to attend the reading of his fathers will. He probably would have skipped that, but his dad’s estate was worth 3 million dollars and Charlie was in need of some cash.
Charlie’s girlfriend notices his lack of emotion when hearing about his fathers death and asks about the estranged relationship. Charlie tells her about the time, as a teenager, he used his father’s 1949 Buick convertible without permission and as a result, he went to jail for two days on account of his father reported it stolen. That incident put an end to the relationship between the two forever.
During the reading of the will Charlie learns his estranged father left him only a bed of roses and the 1949 Buick which destroyed their relationship. Charlie, in disbelief, can only chuckle at the irony of the old man getting the best of him from the grave one last time. He demands to know what will happen to the remainder of the 3 million dollar estate since he is the only heir, but is only told the money is put in a trust to be administered by a doctor at local mental institution in Cincinnati. Charlie, not satisfied with the answer, makes his way to the institution in search of answers. This is when Charlie finds out, must to his shock, he has a bigger brother Raymond who is institutionalization there with autism. After learning this Charlie decides to check Raymond out of the facility basically taking him hostage till he gets his 3 million dollar inheritance.
During a cross country trip to Charlie’s home in Los Angeles he learns more about Raymond and his condition as an autistic savant that will change his life forever. Charlie’s first lesson is about Raymonds inability to fly because planes can crash. When he tries to force Raymond to fly he finds out how a break in Raymonds routine causes him to go into an uncontrollable fit. The same thing happens when he misses his favorite tv shows Wheel of Fortune and the Peoples Court with Judge Wapner. While traveling via their late fathers Buick, Charlie suddenly finds out that Raymond along with his inabilities has other incredible abilities like mathematics. Charlie only motivated by money decides a side trip to Las Vegas might just solve his financial problems.
Rain Man is an exceptional movie that provides viewers with a little of everything. It’s funny, it’s heartbreaking, heartwarming, and has a ton of stunning visuals. No question it was a deserving best picture Oscar as well as for best director award for Barry Levinson for some of his iconic shots like the two brothers, after buying matching suits, riding down an elevator together. And another shot of the two in the window of a luxury suite on the Las Vegas strip with Charlie teaching Raymond how to dance for a date Raymond believes he has later in the evening.
There is also no doubt the movie was worthy of an Oscar for best actor in a motion picture, but it should have gone to Tom Cruise not Dustin Hoffman. Hoffman does a fine job portraying someone who suffers with autism. In fact there have been many specials covering the real life person Hoffman based his performance on Kim Peek. The real issue is in the performance growth of each character. Hoffmans portrayal of an autistic savant is a one note performance. The ending scene shows the character of Raymond is the exact same as he was in his first scene. Because of his condition he has an inability to grow. Begs the question our we laughing at Raymond or with him?
On the other hand Cruise as Charlie Babbit goes through a dramatic change in character form a cold hearted cynic at the beginning of the story to a man who finds compassion for his bigger brother and by the end of the movie his only disappointment is how he never got the opportunity to know his bigger brother. Maybe in time they could have had some form of relationship. Much like Raymond has with the staff at the institution in Cincinnati. No it would have never been a “normal” relationship, but it would have been nice for someone to let him know he had a big brother. Cruise really grew as an actor in this movie. He had other serious roles before this like Taps or Color of Money. But for the most part up until Rain Man a lot of characters Cruise portrayed were similar in tone whether it be Risky Business, All the Right Moves or Top Gun.
Cruise followed up Rain Man with performances in Born of Fourth of July, A Few Good Men, The Firm, Jerry Maguire, Magnolia, and Eyes Wide Shut. All fantastic performances with more than one deserving of at least a nomination, if not, an outright win. Now with a focus on action with films like Mission Impossible and Jack Reacher that make bags of money its not sure if Cruise will get another shot at an academy award? Will he have to settle for the academy’s special award for his body of work? He’s still young, so we hope not.
So, that’s our pick for biggest snub of all time for an Oscar from the Academy Awards. What is yours? Do you agree with us? Maybe you thing Citizen Kane losing to How Green Was My Valley in 1942? Or is it Hitchcock not winning an Oscar for Vertigo, The Birds, or Psycho? How about multiple nominations for Glen Close with many expecting her to take home the Oscar in 2019 for The Wife only to lose to Olivia Colman in The Favourite. There is only one Oscar for each category, but sometimes the voting just seems to go the wrong way. Saving Private Ryan losing to Shakespeare in Love is another hotly debated Oscar night.
After last years announcement of certain diversity guidelines to be followed before a movie can even be nominated for an Oscar is the biggest snub yet to come? Stay tuned to Oh Brother for future winners and our opinion, but we would also love to hear from you! What movie or person is on the top of your list for biggest snub at your favorite awards show?