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What Oscar years had the most surprise acting winners?

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  • RobertPius
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    Some I’m thinking about:

    1973

    I think Jack Lemmon and Glenda Jackson were both big surprises. Not sure if Tatum was expected or not.

    1988

    Geena Davis and Kevin Kline were shocks and Jodie Foster was sort of a minor surprise. Some were predicting her but not everyone.

    Any others? It seems like most years at least three of the winners were as predicted and then maybe one surprise.

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    Anonymous
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    I think you would have to include 1962.

    Gregory Peck won the Best Actor prize as Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird in a close race with Best Picture lead actor Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia.

    The expected Bette Davis comeback win for Who’s Afraid of Baby Jane? was undermined by Joan Crawford and her cronies, leaving a Best Actress prize in the hands of Anne Bancroft in The Miracle Worker.

    Newcomer Omar Sharif of Lawrence of Arabia was widely regarded as the front runner for Best Supporting Actor but lost to Ed Begley of Sweet Bird of Youth on his first and only nomination.

    Of course, Angela Lansbury surprisingly lost Best Supporting Actress for her performance as the evil, conniving mother in The Manchurian Candidate to 16 year old Patty Duke recreating her Broadway triumph as Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker.

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    Anonymous
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    Some I’m thinking about:

    1973

    I think Jack Lemmon and Glenda Jackson were both big surprises. Not sure if Tatum was expected or not.

    I don’t think Jack Lemmon was a surprise at all. The Best Actor award has been declined two in the past three years by George C. Scott and Marlon Brando. The Academy was anxious to insure that whoever won the Award would accept the honor and be grateful. During the voting period, Lemmon was vocal about his desire to win.

    He subsequently confirmed that feeling in his acceptance speech stating, “I just want to say one more thing. In recent years especially there has been a great deal of criticism about this award. And probably a great deal of that criticism is very justified. I would just like to say that whether it’s justified or not, I think it is one hell of an honor and I am thrilled. And I thank you all very, very much.”

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    Leo Grant Logan
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    1998
    Roberto Benigni, Gwyneth Paltrow, James Coburn and Judi Dench

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    Eddy Q
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    1998
    Roberto Benigni, Gwyneth Paltrow, James Coburn and Judi Dench

    Both Benigni and Paltrow had both won SAG (and Paltrow the Globe) so they had to be expected. It’s easy to assume that because these wins are unpopular now they were upsets at the time, but I don’t think they were.

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    Andrew Carden
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    None of Art Carney, Ellen Burstyn or Ingrid Bergman were favored to win in ’74 (over soft front-runners Jack Nicholson, Gena Rowlands and Valentina Cortese).

    For the finest in film reviews and awards analysis, please visit me at The Awards Connection!

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    BenitoDelicias
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    1998
    Roberto Benigni, Gwyneth Paltrow, James Coburn and Judi Dench

    Both Benigni and Paltrow had both won SAG (and Paltrow the Globe) so they had to be expected. It’s easy to assume that because these wins are unpopular now they were upsets at the time, but I don’t think they were.

    This could work as our last year with a lot of surprises. The sentiment back then was that Benigni could win, but not a lock. I think a lot of people were still surprised. People believed in the Globes a lot too back then and neither winner was nominated. Ian McKellen was everybody’s choice, but Life is Beautiful hit at the right time.

    Dench wasn’t a lock either. The length of her performance kept people from predicting her that much. She was definitely surprised herself. Lynn Redgrave was still the expected winner. Kathy Bates was some people’s choice.

    Coburn was a surprise. That category was all over the place. Ed Harris and even Billy Bob Thornton were expected to win. Then you have Robert Duvall who lost for The Apostle the year before. People thought he should’ve won but was never going to beat Nicholson, so this year without a favorite, people also thought he could get it. He was also the SAG winner.

    Gwyneth Paltrow is one of the least surprising wins in history. But 3 not so sure wins is fine for what we have now when we can predict the 4 winners months in advance. This year truly is weird and special.

    It makes sense this is the last year. The internet showed up hard in later years and the surprise was gone for the most part.

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    Andrew Carden
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    Bates may well have prevailed if Primary Colors didn’t garner a March release date – by Oscar season, it was largely forgotten.

    For the finest in film reviews and awards analysis, please visit me at The Awards Connection!

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    Anonymous
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    Gwyneth Paltrow was so fucking expected to win that year. It was only Blanchett stans who believed she was going to win. She wasn’t. The moment Harvey started his disgusting campaign to get her an Oscar it was clear she was going to win. SAG win sealed it for her.
    If they wanted to award the it girl that year they had a brilliant option with my girl. She’s got raves, MONEY!!! (no other lady had such a massive box office hit that year) and she was basically everywhere. She was at the top of the world. I blame FOX for not campaigning enough for her.
    Benigni was kinda expected too, he was basically 90s Dujardin. Coburn was expected. Overdue veteran vs. newbie? Come on! As for Dench, any of the women nominated that year could win.

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    vinny
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    I’m pretty young and was not around for this one by a long shot but my grandfather would complain like crazy about the Oscars of 1963. Always said Sidney P. was the only deserving winner that year

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    Andrew Carden
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    Coburn wasn’t expected at all. He didn’t even win the ISA!

    For the finest in film reviews and awards analysis, please visit me at The Awards Connection!

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    Anonymous
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    Umm I remember that year pretty well. He was the sole oscarless veteran, of course he was going to win.

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    M
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    Bates may well have prevailed if Primary Colors didn’t garner a March release date – by Oscar season, it was largely forgotten.

    For the finest in film reviews and awards analysis, please visit me at The Awards Connection!

    Her loss was due to being a previous winner. Dench being seen as overdue. And votes going elsewhere to the likes of Redgrave.

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    Eddy Q
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    Dench’s win was in part an apology for not awarding her for Mrs. Brown I expect; Helen Hunt had even singled her out in her speech the previous year. Dench’s Elizabeth, in her magnificent peacock costume, was also a formidable enough presence in Shakespeare in Love to tower over her fellow nominees (in terms of perception, not necessarily level of performance).

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    Honey
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    2002 – nobody swept the pre-cursors

    Nicole Kidman lost SAG/CC to Renee Zellwegger/Julianne Moore

    Adrien Brody lost every pre-cursor to Nicholson/DDL

    Chris Cooper lost BAFTA/SAG to Christopher Walken

    Catherine Zeta Jones lost GG but she was in the wrong category lol but Streep I guess was possible? Still didn’t sweep lol

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