January 5, 2016 at 9:03 pm #206470
It seems so common now but let’s make a list of early incidents. (Timothy Hutton, Tatum O’Neal obviously, but they were kids and that was the reason.)
What other ones do you remember and why do you think it happened?January 5, 2016 at 9:39 pm #206472
Hutton was 20 years old when he won the Oscar, wouldn’t call that being a “kid’.January 5, 2016 at 10:02 pm #206473
Well in comparison to other nominnees he was a kid and he was playing a high school kid.January 5, 2016 at 10:32 pm #206474
Pacino was by far away the lead in The Godfather and Brando was supporting. But Brando got put in lead because he was the titular “Godfather” and he was a bigger name, while Pacino was virtually unknownJanuary 5, 2016 at 11:01 pm #206475
There are many debatable incidents of category fraud prior to 2000. One that always puzzled me is the nomination of Lilia Skala as Best Supporting Actress in Lilies of the Field.
Was Skala demoted to supporting because she was an unknown in her film debut? As the Mother Superior, she is in virtually every scene. She is only one of the five nuns aided by Homer Smith who can speak English so she has all the dialogue. Skala, an immigrant from Austria who fled the country during WWII because of her Jewish heritage, gives a memorable performance. Yet, when the nominations were announced, Skala was working a minimum wage position in a New York City lost and found.
Did the studio fear retribution in the heights of the Civil Rights era if they promoted a white woman, even one playing a nun, as the co-star of a black man? Most writings of the 1963 Oscar race credit Sidney Poitier’s win as a triumph of the itinerant handyman’s good moral character as demonstrated by helping the immigrant nuns build a church. The other leading Best Actor contenders Paul Newman in Hud and Albert FInney in Tom Jones were considered less desirable by the Academy voters, because their characters were decidely immoral. Yet, is seems to difficult to accept that race was not a significant factor in Poitier’s win.
The puzzle becomes more intriguing, because the winner of Best Actress Patricia Neal played what was clearly a supporting role as housekeeper Alma in Hud. Sympathy for her lengthy list of personal strife played into her victory, much like Elizabeth Taylor’s near death illness during the voting for the 1961 Oscars and her subsequent victory as a hooker in the unimpressive BUtterfield 8.
On the surface, I suspect that celebrity played a major factor in category determination then. Big stars primarily appear in the top categories while lesser known players were relegated to the supporting line ups.January 6, 2016 at 6:55 am #206476
Pacino was reportedly very unhappy with his supporting placement. And it’s very telling that Mike Nichols was disappointed that Dustin Hoffman took ‘supporting role’ in “The Midnight Cowboy” after he has ‘made him a leading star’ in “The Graduate”, yet Hoffman was nominated alongside his co-star Jon Voight for Best Actor Oscar. Today he would be clearly put in supporting, just like Anne Baxter for “All About Eve”, Katharine Hepburn for “Suddenly, Last Summer” (if she would allow it), Peter Finch for “Network”, Anne Bancroft for “The Turning Point”, Tom Courtenay for “The Dresser”, Tom Hulce for “Amadeus” and maybe even Geena Davis for “Thelma & Louise” as more passive character of the 2 or Michael Caine for “Sleuth”.January 6, 2016 at 7:51 am #206477
One that still irks me is Albert Brooks in the supporting category for Broadcast News. That movie, to me, was a real “three-hander,” but I suppose there was a feeling that “someone had to go supporting.”
That was the same year that Denzel Washington was nominated in the supporting category for the two-hander Cry Freedom, after the Globes placed him in the lead category, but Washington was relatively new to movies and the leading category was already stacked with veterans.
Speaking of veterans, I’d also add George Burns winning in the supporting category for The Sunshine Boys as blatant fraud. Matthau and Burns were coleads and Globe winner Benjamin, the most recent supporting actor Globe winner not to be Oscar-nominated, likely got squeezed out of a nomination to give Burns a career achievement win in a much weaker category.
And there are so many female leading nominations that were really supporting roles, particularly in the 70s when there just weren’t enough leading roles to fill out the category: Jane Alexander in The Great White Hope, Valerie Perrine in Lenny, Ann-Margret in Tommy, Louise Fletcher in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, and Talia Shire in Rocky.January 6, 2016 at 8:22 am #206478
Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs. His performance is under 20 minutes, and yet he won LEAD actor.January 6, 2016 at 9:18 am #206479
Well, it’s less problematic when borderline or even clear supporting cast member goes leading for some reason than obvious leading star going supporting for clear advantage of screentime.
Hopkins was so charismatic that there’s no way you don’t think about him after watching the film, even though his screentime is limited. Jodie Foster had to work really hard to hold her own in their scenes. He is the one who made the film work. The placing was justified. Similar situations with Geraldine Page for “Interiors” and winning Nicole Kidman for “The Hours” – even though they are not on the screen as often as their co-nominees, their films are so clearly about them that you feel their presence even though they’re not around. That’s why it irks me when anyone considers Diane Keaton supporting in “Annie Hall”, despite the fact that she plays the title character. No, it’s not Vanessa Redgrave situation, I can realize that Woody Allen’s Alvy is the main character of the film but the story is all about Annie who dominates his life. It’s a little bit different situation than, let’s say, Jessica Lange for “Tootsie” who would be acceptable as leading contender but there’s no way her character was as important to the story as Dustin Hoffman’s Michael. She doesn’t dominate as much as Annie Hall, is secondary to the story when it centers on other aspects of Michael’s life, for example Teri Garr subplot or various possibilities of romance for Dorothy.
I had bigger problems with Martin Landau, who was clearly co-leading “Crimes and Misdemeanors” along with Woody Allen – both were main characters of their arcs that were resolved in the finale.
NateDoggg is right – the slate of Lead Actress in 1970s is problematic which is especially bad given the greatness of this period for cinema. I guess back then, when stars of the Golden Age were still pretty much around, Best Actress nomination did mean more than Best Supporting Actress win. Today Valerie Perrine would be easily placed supporting for “Lenny” and nobody would think twice about it. In 1974 she would be a winner over Ingrid Bergman. 1980s Best Actress nominees Debra Winger (for “An Officer…”) and Mary Tyler Moore can be added to that group.
I think “The English Patient” is interesting case whether Kirstin Scott Thomas and Juliette Binoche were in the right categories. I’d guess the former wouldn’t agree.January 6, 2016 at 10:13 am #206480
The issue goes back to the inception of the category. Luise Rainer won her first Oscar for a clearly supporting part because she was Luise Rainer. While the same year, Stuart Erwin, the star of PIGSKIN PARADE, was nominated for supporting becase he was Stuart Erwin.January 6, 2016 at 10:56 am #206481
The issue goes back to the inception of the category. Luise Rainer won her first Oscar for a clearly supporting part because she was Luise Rainer. While the same year, Stuart Erwin, the star of PIGSKIN PARADE, was nominated for supporting becase he was Stuart Erwin.
Don’t forget Spencer Tracy for San Francisco!January 6, 2016 at 3:06 pm #206482
I just wrote a 500 word rant about the history of category fraud and the egregious state we are in today. Right at the very end I pressed some wrong button and the whole thing fucked of!!!
Why can’t Julia Roberts be more like Rosalind Russell.January 6, 2016 at 3:11 pm #206483
^ I feel ya, gurl. It happens to me all the time and I’m like !@#$%^&*()January 6, 2016 at 3:13 pm #206484
But it only seems to happen on this site. Why is that???